Even though no snowflakes have fallen yet, you might have felt the cold air and you have probably noticed that the days are shorter. Winter is here and Christmas is right around the corner. Some might prefer sunnier seasons, but Winter can be a lot of fun as well. Think about presents, Christmas merchandise and typical Winter foods/beverages for instance. Therefore I would like to inform you about some fun winter markets in the Netherlands for 2019. Especially for the International students among us who are not going back during the holidays. Even as a Dutchie you might not have heard of these markets, or you may have never been there. All in all, something for everyone to potentially enjoy during the last few weeks of the year.
The first on the list is the underground winter market in Valkenburg. Yes, you read that correctly. This market is hosted underground in the municipal caves of Valkenburg. The holiday spirit is not only present in this underground facility though, because the city above grounds is just as alive and vibrant. They even call themselves the ”Christmas city” and they claim to be the best Christmas destination of Europe. There are hundreds of stands and even more lights, miniature villages and sand sculptures to see here. As well as tons of activities such as ice-skating, going down the toboggan run, goin on a food tour and a Christmas parade. Obviously a winter market wouldn’t be complete without lots of Christmas merchandise, and of course there is more than you would wish for. Keep in mind that there are a lot of different activities which require you to buy tickets. The prices for these tickets are just a few euros with exception to the casino dinner show. You can experience all this from the 15th of November 2019 until the 5th of January 2020. During the week 10:00 – 20:00 and in the weekend 10:00 – 21:00.
Second on the list is a real highlight, Maastricht. In my opinion one of the most beautiful winter markets of the Netherlands due to the lights, decorations and the rides like the Ferris wheel. As any other winter market you can go on an all out shopping spree when walking through the ”Magic Christmas World” or ”Dickens Village” (those are really the names they chose for it, not even kidding). When you are saturated from all the ”Glühwein” and the variety of different Christmas snacks available, it is time to put up a Christmas bauble for charity. After that you can go ice-skating or take a selfie with the mega Christmas bauble. If you are cold or when it might be raining (you never know, it is still the Netherlands), no worries. The ice rink is fully covered so you can take shelter there. This market is available from November 29th until the 31th of December. During the week they are open from 11:00 – 24:00. In the weekend they start at 10:00 until 01:00. The entrance is free, unlike the caves of Valkenburg.
Unlike some other winter markets, this one will only stay a very limited amount of time, namely not more than three days. So if you plan on visiting Dordrecht, I recommend you go on the 13th or 14th of December from 10:00 – 21:00. This is the time when it feels the most alive, because Sunday the 15th of December it will only be open from 11:00 – 18:00. But what is there to do you say? First of all Dordrecht is already a beautiful city on itself, but during the winter market they go all out. There are so many stands here that it might as well be the largest (read longest) winter market of the Netherlands. Around 250 stalls will be standing there including shopping-, food-, drinking-, music- and even theater stalls. The rumour goes that Santa himself will be there as well. For more information visit the website, because the program differs everyday. Website in English: https://kerstmarktdordrecht.nl/home/praktische-informatie/english/
Den Haag (The Hague)
The Hague is the place where the ”Royal Christmas Fair” will be yet again. From the 12th of December until the 23th from 12:00 to 21:00 the “‘Lange Voorhout” will be transformed into a spectacle of light and Christmas. Stalls with food and beverages together with some happy activities will be the main happening. Interesting and delicious food will be available for sale here like: bratwurst, flammkuchen, Dutch mini pancakes and apple fritters. Merchandise includes items such as winter pelts, Christmas lights, candles, woodwork and gifts. If the shopping is not your cup of tea, then you can sing along with the Christmas carols and get drunk on some more glühwein. Furthermore, there will be shows with actors and lots of different cultural activities (whatever that may mean).
Leiden – De nieuwe Rijn
From all the other winter market this one is the most special, because this one is floating on water! From the 13th to the 24th of December 12:00 – 21:00 Leiden, de nieuwe Rijn will be transformed into a floating platform with 84 chalets. Here you can buy Christmas merchandise, snacks and beverages. Several performances will be done here as well within the context of Christmas like the appearance of Santa. However, what really is interesting to do here is the little cruise on the river. This will set you back 10 euro, but is well worth the ride. The boat will take you on a tour through the canals of Leiden while you enjoy some hot chocolate milk and/or some glühwein that is included with the ticket. The final destination will be the floating winter market. The boat leaves every hour from 12:00 – 21:00. No need to make reservations for the cruise. The boat departs from the ”Aalmarkt 4”. Entrance to the floating market is completely free by the way.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. My advice is go check out (some of) these winter markets if you are able to and in the right mood. It will get you started for the holiday spirit and it takes your mind off more serious matters. For now, good luck with the upcoming days before the winter break and don’t forget to enjoy. We will be back next week with another article.