Cheese Market Alkmaar

Cheese Market Alkmaar

Mar 29, 2024Sep 27, 2024
Fridays at 10am - 1pm

When you think about Dutch food, cheese is likely one of the first things to come to mind. One of the most famous spots in the Netherlands for buying cheese is the traditional Dutch cheese market in Alkmaar. You can catch a glimpse of it every Friday morning and some evenings in the summer

World-famous Cheese Market

The Alkmaar Cheese Market is a world-famous tourist attraction that has been around since at least 1593. Every year the cheese market takes place from the last Friday in March to the last Friday in September. This market, filled with neatly stacked wheels of cheese, cheese-hauling carriers, scales and traditional work clothes is a rare sight to behold.

The Dutch Cheese Museum

Inside the monumental Weighing House (Waaghuis), in the centre of Alkmaar, you’ll find the Dutch Cheese Museum. The history of Dutch cheese-making, trading and farming culture can be explored in this special location. Amongst the things on display, you can find historical artefacts, utensils and paintings from as early as the 16th century.

Photo: courtesy of Alkmaar Marketing Cheese Market Alkmaar Netherlands

A day at the Alkmaar Cheese Market

Are you curious about what a day at the Alkmaar Cheese Market might look like? Here’s a short summary:

Setting up the cheeses

At 7am, the kaaszetters unload, inspect and set up the cheeses. They are tested for taste, fat, moisture and number of holes. They then report to the Weighing House, where the "cheese father" (the head of the forwarding companies) inspects them.

Opening the market

At 9.15am a bell is rung by an important guest and the market is officially opened at 10am. Samplers and cheese traders get to work examining the wares. The price per kilo is bargained for by symbolically clapping hands and shouting prices.

Weighing the cheese

Once a deal is made, the cheese carriers take the sold cheese to the Waag where it is weighed by the tasman (bag man) and the waagmeester (weighing master). After the weighing, the cheese carriers bring the cheese to the buyers’ lorries on wooden barrows.

Carillon performance

At 11am and 12pm, there's a special performance using the carillon bells in the main square.

Verbal presentation of the cheese

At 11.20am and 12.20pm, there's a spoken presentation for the visitors, given in Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish.

Emptying the square

Unsold cheeses are loaded into carts to be returned to the haulier. The entire square is emptied by 1pm.

Photo: courtesy of Alkmaar Marketing Dutch Cheese Market Alkmaar Netherlands

Visit Alkmaar Cheese Market

The cheese market starts on Friday, March 29 and ends on Friday, September 27 and lasts from 10am to 1pm. In addition, in July and August there is also a cheese market on Tuesday evenings from 7pm to 9pm. Visit Alkmaar Cheese Market and witness a 500-year-old tradition rolling out before your very eyes! 

If you like famous cheese markets, it’s also worth checking out the Edam Cheese Market and the Gouda Cheese Market.

Thumb photo: courtesy of Alkmaar Marketing