To help you plan your Christmas trip to Haarlem, here are experiences that are guaranteed to leave you with a smile bigger than Santa’s belly:

Visit Haarlem’s Christmas Market

Haarlem Christmas market

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the market features everything you would want for Christmas and more, with around 300 stalls offering all manner of goods, including artisan foods, handcrafted gifts, artwork and decorations. This traditional market offers something for children and adults alike and is a great place to stock up on handmade goodies while shopping to the soundtrack of a live choir under the fairy lights.

Go Christmas shopping

Haarlem shopping street Cris Toala Olivares

Haarlem has been voted as the best shopping city in the Netherlands, so if you’re looking to find someone the perfect Christmas present, you’re likely to find it here. Your first stop should be the city’s ‘Gouden Straatjes’ (streets of gold), where you’ll find everything from cool concept stores to independent boutiques and big brands. Head for Grote Houtstraat, the Barteljorisstraat and the Zijlstraat. After that take some time to head off the beaten path and explore smaller streets such as the Schagchelstraat, Kleine Houtstraat, Warmoesstraat and Gierstraat: all of which feature a selection of fashion, homeware and gift stores.

Kerstsamenzang Haarlem

Christmas singing in Haarlem

Enjoy a cosy Christmas singalong on Christmas Eve together with beautiful music and a group of welcoming strangers. After a silent disco and a festive broadcast, the singalong begins, with a live band accompanying a mix of classic and Dutch carols and songs.

24 December // Grote Markt, Haarlem

See a concert at the Grote Kerk in Haarlem

The 16th century Gothic Grote Kerk dominates the Grote Markt in the centre of Haarlem, a treasure trove city brimming with historical and cultural gems. And there’s no better way to spend a winters day than by settling into a seat underneath the church’s magnificent interior to take in a concert. Some events even feature the church’s gigantic organ, constructed in 1738 and once played by a young Mozart.

Various dates // Haarlem 

Try some Dutch delicacies

Oliebollen CC BY 20 Franklin Heijnen via Flickr

As well as the picturesque sights that you see as you wander around Haarlem during the festive period, you’ll likely also be amazed at the glorious smells that linger in the air. That’s because food vendors and stalls pop-up all around during Christmas time, offering Dutch treats at every turn. Make sure to try oliebollen, little spheres of pure pleasure - fried dough, often with currants, raisins or sultanas inside - all dipped in powdered sugar. And save some room for pepernoten and speculaas, crispy cinnamon-infused biscuits that go well with a steaming cup of hot Chocomel (chocolate milk).