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Christmas / New year in Amsterdam

Christmas and New Year are the favorite holidays for most of the people in the world. This time is full of magic and peace. All of the world is united by the same idea and the same feeling of joy! The Netherlands is the country with longstanding Christmas traditions. Christmas and New Year are celebrated big here. 

The interesting fact is that the world known Santa Claus comes from the Dutch word Sinterklaas. So, the main Christmas guest in the Netherlands is called Sinterklaas. Dutch people start to prepare for Christmas and the New year’s eve two months before. December and the beginning of January are full of celebrations but the most important day is St. Nicholas’ Eve on December 5th. On this day Sinterklass visits homes and delivers presents to children around the country. Christmas Day is known as Eerste Kerstdag (First Christmas Day) and the day after, is known as Tweede Kerstdag. Both of these days are national holidays and are typically spent with family or friends at gatherings where more special foods are prepared and eaten, or leftovers are enjoyed! 

If you are planning to do something great for Christmas holidays, Amsterdam would become a great destination to have a vacation at this magical time of the year. Amsterdam is shining and the celebrations are going on almost every day and every place. Christmas trees, decorations and colorful lights combined with the beautiful canals turn the city into a fairytale. There are plenty of things you can do here whether you are travelling with your family, friends or beloved ones. 

Here are some things you can enjoy in Amsterdam on Christmas holidays:

Amsterdam main Christmas Tree

Dam Square is  the historic and cultural center of Amsterdam and the attraction itself hosts a 65feet christmas tree with nearly two and a half miles of LED string lights. With the Royal Palace and 15th-century Nieuwe Kerk church as backdrops, visitors go to the square all season long to get a look at this majestic view. As the city center of the country’s capital, it’s the most important Christmas tree in the Netherlands. 


Christmas markets

Christmas markets are a holiday staple of Northern Europe, and the Netherlands is no exception. More than that, markets are the old Dutch tradition and part of all Dutch national holidays. Christmas markets rise almost on every street during the winter. Sunday Market is one of the most popular, located in the reformed historic gas building, Westergas. In December, this monthly event becomes the “Funky Xmas Market.” Get lost in the labyrinth of over 300 stalls that overrun the city center, each one selling some type of traditional Dutch trinket. A great choice to warm up with glühwein and oliebollen, find the perfect gifts for friends and family, and spend time with those you love.

Rembrandtplein Winter Wonderland

As the temperatures drop, Amsterdam’s Rembrandtplein transforms into a picturesque scene adorned with snow cannons and a grand skating rink. The winter plaza invites skaters to revel in the joy of gliding on ice while relishing mulled wine and Dutch delicacies amidst a dazzling evening ambiance. Just in front of our hotel!

Local food

The holidays cannot be experienced without some tasty food. Since Amsterdam is full of Christmas Markets, you should definitely taste the Dutch hapjes (snacks), such as the olieballen and appelbeignets. They are both traditional Dutch sweets deep fried in hot oil. Olieballen and appelbeignets are part of the Christmas menu for the local people and easily found at this time of the year in the Xmas stands spread across Amsterdam. Other Christmas delicacies you should look out for include chocolate letters , Kerststol and Kerstkrans. As for food, many Amsterdam restaurants and cafés are open. Often offering special Christmas menus, usually at a set price. It is a good idea to make reservations, as some may close their doors early or serve a limited number on that night. 


If you are a ballet lover, Amsterdam has a perfect Christmas gift for you. See a Show at the Dutch National Ballet. “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” quickly turned into one of the most successful Dutch theater productions of all time, already promised a return for the winter season of 2020. This adaptation of the famous ballet changes the setting from Christmas Eve in Germany to a night during the Dutch feast of Sinterklaas in early 19th century Amsterdam. If you are curious about the behind-the-scenes workings of the National Ballet, sign up for a guided tour. See for yourself how stage sets, costumes, and props are all designed and crafted in the theater. 


Dutch people really admire fireworks. On the New Year night it’s hard to say if it’s night or day as the sky is full of fireworks. The whole city becomes a wonderland as the Dutch sky is covered by amazing fireworks — a spectacle definitely not to miss! You can celebrate the New Year in every corner of the city. You can also dance until the late hours.

Christmas Markets:

Amsterdam Winter Paradise at RAI

Kicking off the festive fervor, the RAI blossoms into a mesmerizing winter wonderland. Both indoor and outdoor ice-skating rinks adorn the venue while seasonal parties, culinary delights, and a towering Ferris wheel offer breathtaking views of the city. The thrill of tubing across real snow or engaging in snowball fights creates a magical ambiance for all.

Funky Xmas Market at Westergasfabriek

A touch of creativity infuses the air at the Funky Xmas Market in mid-December. Showcasing the works of local artists and fashion designers, the Westergasfabriek invites visitors to immerse themselves in an artsy atmosphere while exploring handmade art and accessories.

Pure Markt Wintermarkt at Park Frankendael

The Pure Markt Winter edition graces Park Frankendael, offering a cozy farmers market experience. Enthusiastic participants from across the country bring forth handcrafted goods, gourmet delicacies, and a fusion of music and bites, ensuring a delightful shopping and culinary adventure.

The Sustainable Christmas Market at De Ceuvel

For eco-conscious celebrants, De Ceuvel hosts a pop-up market featuring sustainable Christmas gifts. From ethically-sourced coffee to handmade soaps, the dazzling stalls amidst twinkling lights create a serene atmosphere. Live music, glühwein by the fire, and homemade Dutch pea soup enhance the experience.

Winter Village Stadshart Amstelveen

Just south of Amsterdam, the Winter Village in Amstelveen enchants visitors with its ice skating rink and over 60 market stalls. Handcrafted gifts and spaces for cherished moments with family and friends adorn the city center, offering a memorable holiday experience.

Haarlem Christmas Market at Grote Markt

Haarlem hosts one of the Netherlands’ largest Christmas markets. The city center transforms into a vibrant hub with hundreds of stalls offering Christmas carols, delectable treats, and an irresistible ambiance, making it difficult to bid adieu to the festive charm.

IceVillage Amsterdam at Museumplein

The Museumplein becomes a charming Christmas village, albeit without the ice skating rink this year. Live entertainment, market stalls, and an array of festive food and drinks await visitors, promising ample winter fun and surprises.

Castle Christmas Fair at Buitenplaats Beeckestijn

Embark on a magical winter adventure at the Castle Christmas Fair, a mere 30-minute drive from Amsterdam. Workshops, market stalls brimming with handmade goods, and even a pack of alpacas add an enchanting touch to the celebrations.

New Year’s Revelry: A Spectacular Commemoration

Fireworks Spectacles and Light Shows

As the countdown to New Year’s commences, Amsterdam lights up with a spectacular display. Museumplein becomes the focal point with a dazzling light show and multiple fireworks displays. The event caters to all, with a children’s show preceding the main celebration, offering a magical experience for the young ones.

Evolution of Tradition: A Centralized Celebration

Amsterdam’s decision to ban consumer fireworks finds overwhelming support among residents. A new tradition emerges, urging locals to converge at a centralized New Year’s celebration. The city’s aim to reduce the issues caused by fireworks resonates with a majority, emphasizing community gatherings over individual fireworks displays.

Jaap Eden Ice Rink in Amsterdam Oost

For ice skating enthusiasts, the Jaap Eden Ice Rink in Amsterdam Oost offers an expansive space for amateurs and professionals alike. With a 400-meter track and additional amenities, it becomes a hub for ice-related activities including speed skating and hockey matches.

Winterparadijs at RAI Amsterdam

The Winterparadijs at RAI Amsterdam promises a myriad of winter activities, from skating on extensive rinks to cross-country skiing and more. Amidst the vibrant energy, an après-ski village offers cozy moments by the fire pit and culinary delights for those seeking a relaxed festive experience.