The winter holiday season in the Netherlands means atmospheric traditional markets, rousing carol concerts, and festive illuminations dancing over calm canal waters. From bustling Amsterdam to peaceful Dordrecht, here are a few of the best Christmas markets to check out while celebrating the holidays in Holland.
In the run-up to the holiday season, Amsterdam comes to life with traditional food stalls in Leidseplein and Koningsplein, where hungry locals rub shoulders with curious tourists keen to experience a Dutch Christmas. Elsewhere, the market on Museumplein sells arts and crafts as kids whizz around the ice-skating rink, and last-minute shoppers can pick up gifts at the stalls in Westergasfabriek. And if you’re visiting the Dutch capital at the end of the year, don’t miss the Amsterdam Light Festival, which sees the Amstel River festively illuminated through December and into January.
The city of Dordrecht boasts a lovely medieval city center as well as worthy attractions including the Brabantine Gothic Grote Kerk (Church of Our Lady), built in the 13th century. The Christmas market here is a highlight too, and it draws over 200 traders selling seasonal gifts, art, and antiques. Stalls are spread throughout Dordrecht, so visitors can see the market while admiring the local landmarks.
Taking pride of place on Vrijthof square, the Maastricht Christmas market hosts around 70 traders selling everything from Dutch speciality treats to handmade arts and crafts. There’s a Ferris wheel and an ice rink to enjoy—and with such a central location, the welcoming bars, restaurants, and shops of Maastricht are all close by.
The Valkenburg Christmas markets bring plenty of seasonal activities to the small town. Visitors can take food tours, visit Santa, and catch weekly festive parades—but it’s the underground markets that really draw the crowds. They’re set within the subterranean caverns of the Cauberg, a local hill, and with all the festive decorations up, the atmosphere is truly wonderful.