The RAI will transform into a winter wonderland in December with both indoor and outdoor ice-skating rinks, seasonal parties, dining galore and a giant Ferris wheel that looks out over the city of Amsterdam. You can tube across real snow, cross-country ski between Christmas trees or goof off with a classic snowball fight.
Funky Xmas Market
The monthly Sunday market, which highlights the work of local artists, fashion designers and creatives, gets a little bit groovy with the special Funky Xmas Market in early December. Head to the Westergas to browse through a heap of handmade art and accessories, or simply sit back and enjoy the artsy atmosphere.
Sunday Market // sundaymarket.nl (in Dutch) // Westergasfabriek // Speciale Sinterklaas Market, 1 December 2019 // Funky Xmas Market, 15 December 2019
Amsterdam Christmas Market is taking place at Westergas this year. The new location is ushering in fresh look for the popular market, with an ice rink, live music, food trucks and winter bars, children's activities, a rotating roster of cultural events and a big party every night.
Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt // fb.com/DeAmsterdamscheKerstmarkt (in Dutch) // 20-23 December
Each year, Amsterdam’s Museumplein transforms into a charming Christmas village, complete with an ice rink, live entertainment, market stalls and plenty of festive food and drink to keep you warm. Take a spin on the ice – or play some human bowling – in one of the most breath-taking (and not just because of the cold!) Christmas markets in Amsterdam.
ICE Village // icevillage.nl (in Dutch) // Museumplein // 13-26 December 2019
Winter Village Stadshart Amstelveen
Be like the birds and head south for the winter – for a day, at least! In Amstelveen, just south of Amsterdam, is a Christmas market worth travelling for. The city centre of Amstelveen transforms into the Winter Village, where children play on the ice, parents browse more 60 market stalls for handcrafted gifts, and family and friends gather.
Winter Village // wintervillageamstelveen.nl (in Dutch) // Winkelcentrum Stadshart, Amstelveen // check back for 2019 dates
In between Amsterdam and Utrecht lies Vreeland, a little town that packs tons of culture – and though small, the town knows how to throw a good Christmas market. Be sure to check out the stalls from local Vreeland artists, including handmade clothing, jewellery, cosmetics and kitchen textiles.
Kerstmarkt Vreeland // kerstmarktvreeland.nl (in Dutch) // Vreeland // 7 December 2019
Castle Christmas Fair
There is nothing so magical as Christmas – well, perhaps a Christmas market in a castle! At the Castle Christmas Fair in Heemskerk, just a 30-minute drive northwest of Amsterdam, you can take your family and friends on a real winter wonderland adventure, complete with fun workshops, market stalls hawking handmade goods, and, this year, a pack of alpacas.
Castle Christmas Fair // castlechristmasfair.nl (in Dutch) // Slot Assumburg, Heemskerk // 28 November-1 December 2019
Haarlem Christmas Market
One of the largest Christmas markets in the whole of the Netherlands, the Haarlem Christmas market is a must-see, must-do experience. As you wander through the hundreds of market stalls weaving throughout the city centre, the sounds of Christmas carols and the scent of holiday treats fill the air, making it hard to ever head home.
Haarlem Christmast Market // visithaarlem.com/christmasmarket // Grote Markt, Haarlem // 7-8 December 2019
The Royal Christmas Fair
If you want to feel like the kings and queens of Christmas for the day, head to The Hague to get that royal treatment at the Royal Christmas Fair. The Hague’s city centre – an hour’s ride from Amsterdam – becomes the centre of the Christmas action, with over 100 stalls and cheery décor to get your fill of holiday jollies.
The Royal Christmas Carnival // denhaag.com/en/christmas // The Hague // 27-30 December 2019
Country & Christmas Fair
The extravagant De Haar Castle becomes more alluring than ever when it sparkles with fairy lights during the annual Country and Christmas Fair. As the 20th edition of the fair, 2018 promises to jingle all the way with more than 240 stalls selling handmade treats and treasures, carol singing and general merriment.
Country & Christmas Fair// countrychristmasfair.nl (in Dutch) // Kasteel de Haar, Utrecht // 19-24 November 2019
In Edam, the locals celebrate lichtjesavond or ‘light night,’ a lovely holiday evening when the shops stay open until 21:00 and the town square is strewn with twinkling lights. Warm up with a mug of hot chocolate or spiced wine while you browse for last-minute Christmas gifts.
Light Night Edam // edam.nl/lichtjesavond.html (in Dutch) // Edam // 13 December 2019
In charming Alkmaar, this Christmas market takes over the Waagplein – right in the center of the city. This cosy market features more than 60 wooden Christmas houses and market stalls, all offering great gifts and festive food and drink, including Christmas jumpers, cakes and gluhwein. You can also enjoy performances from a singing Santa, a Christmas choir booming out all your favourite carols, and even Scrooge. Kids will also get the chance to decorate their own baubles, or whizz down a mountain at the market’s own ski simulator.
Kerstmarkt Alkmaar // fb.com/alkmaarkerstmarkt // Alkmaar // 14-15 December 2019
Floating Christmas Market
The only Christmas market of its kind in the Netherlands, this large floating festival during Leiden’s winter wonder week is the perfect spot to get into the Christmas spirit, with almost 100 cosy winter chalets hosting shopping, snacks and drinks. It is well worth the 35-minute drive from Amsterdam to enjoy the waterfront atmosphere while you sip on mulled wine or hot chocolate. Whether you board a canal cruise, ice skate, or just relax and listen to the live music, it is sure to be a jolly good holiday outing.
Kerstmarkt Leiden // visitleiden.nl/winter-wonder-weken (in Dutch) // 13-24 December 2019
Looking for more Christmas festivities? Add a little extra twinkle and a dash of cinnamon to the season with this guide to the holidays in Amsterdam.