10 top Christmas markets in the Netherlands
All across the Netherlands, December is the time for cities to put up decorations, illuminate their most historical and cosy hotspots with twinkling lights and organise a Christmas market.
Depending on your preferences, you can opt for a more intimate market, choose one with a more unique setting or check out which one isn’t too far from your home.
Not sure which Christmas market would suit you best? Have a look at our pick of the 10 best ones:
Dates: December 11 - 13
In Dordrecht you'll find one of the biggest Christmas markets in the Netherlands. This is quite a feat, especially since Dordrecht is a small and charming city with just over 100.000 people.
Over 200 stalls and pagoda tents offer, among other things, a hobbyists' square, winter themed gifts, art and antiques.
The whole inner city participates in the event, so that the stalls are well-dispersed and not too busy. Different areas have different themes, and strolling along them gives you a great view of the beautiful Dordrecht streets!
Dates: November 13 - January 3
For a whopping month and a half Valkenburg, a small city in the hilly south, hosts multiple grand Christmas activities.
The multiple underground Christmas markets in the gorgeous caves of the Cauberg are without a doubt the main attraction of the Christmas City. The merchandise is not the most diverse, but their setting is unique in the Netherlands.
The most popular ones are the Municipal and Velvet Cave. The newest addition to the Christmas market caves is Mergelrijk, where you can find brittle marlstone all around you.
Other activities include Santa’s Village, which is the main market above ground, the Christmas Parade, the delicious Route d’Amuse and Magic Sand, a collection of breath-taking sand sculptures.
Dates: December 19 - 20
The yearly Dickens Festival is a massive Victorian era re-enactment in the heart of Deventer featuring over 950 characters from Charles Dickens' most famous novels.
The Christmas market around the Lebuïnuskerk is substantial, and the groups of Christmas carollers and musicians playing pleasant tunes in period style garb are sure to delight.
The Dickens Festival is annually visited by 150.000 visitors. Be warned that due to its popularity the waiting time at the entrance queue can run up to 1,5 hours. On the plus side, entry is free!
Dates: November 29 - December 29
Every winter, the city of Maastricht gets a bit more magical to kick-off the holiday season. Taking up the entirety of the central Vrijthof square, the event features over 75 stalls, a Ferris wheel and a beautiful 800 m2 ice skating rink.
The market is on for a month, so be sure to come in the earlier days when the local Christmas cheer is still going strong!
Dates: December 12 - 13
Haarlem hosts one of the most popular Christmas markets in the country. Hundreds of stalls stand among choirs that sing Christmas songs, stirring up those warm and fuzzy Yuletide feelings like none other.
Haarlem is particularly well suited to host a market thanks to its compact size and pedestrian-friendly streets. The quality of the items being sold is quite high, with lots of handmade crafts and artisanal foods.
Dates: December 18 - 20
For a good fair in the northern parts of the Netherlands, head out to the WinterWelvaart in Groningen! This three-day event welcomes everyone to a combination of Christmas shopping and maritime history.
Several beautiful charter ships, as well as the Maritime Museum (free access), will take on the role of stages where a festive programme full of music, theatre, tastings and other special activities will take place.
Of course there will also be many small wooden tables that sell everything from handbags to small furniture pieces.
Dates: December 11 - 20
In Leiden you’ll find the only floating Christmas market in the Netherlands! Making use of the beautiful canals that run through the city centre, stalls will be placed on temporary scaffolding over the waters of the Nieuwe Rijn.
Besides over 70 chalets full of merchandise, interesting activities include a floating ice rink, multiple performances and a winter boat tour.
Dates: December 4 - 13
The beautiful Keukenhof area will be the perfect backdrop for stalls full of new and unique Christmas presents.
Entry to the Christmas Fair at Keukenhof Castle will be free of charge. Also, due to last year’s popularity the 2015 edition will take up not one, but two weekends.
Each weekend will have its own theme. December 4 to 6 will be all about the "festival of light", and December 11 to 13 will have a Dickensian theme.
Dates: December 17 - 23
The first Royal Christmas Fair in The Hague was met with great approval in 2014. Aiming for an international audience, the stately Lange Voorhout will once again transform into a fair with a great atmosphere.
You will find glühwein, winter pelts, flammkuchen, mood lights, wood carvings, candles and all kinds of Christmas wares, and of course there will be a great entertainment programme including various performances by children’s choirs, theatre companies, ensembles and storytellers.
Dates: December 18 - 27
Ice* Amsterdam is a collective of ice-themed activities in the centre of Amsterdam. This year, they will add the magical and tasty Christmas Village on Ice*!
Taking place on the Museumplein, next to the ice rink, the Christmas Village will take the form of several warm winter chalets in which you can find all kinds of items. There will also be live entertainment, and entry is free!
Which Christmas fairs will you be visiting this year? Let us know in the comments below!