Top Christmas markets in the Netherlands, 2017
December is the time for cities around the Netherlands 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? Take a look at our pick of the 10 best ones:
Christmas City Valkenburg, November 17-January 7
Christmas City Valkenburg is an annual collaboration between seven grand and unique Christmas attractions that will last a month and a half, and take place in Valkenburg.
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 are the Municipal and the Velvet Cave. The newest addition to the Christmas market caves is Mergelrijk, where you can find brittle marlstone all around you. Other attractions include Santa’s Village, which is the main market above ground, the Christmas Parade and the delicious Route d’Amuse.
Maastricht Christmas Market, December 1 - January 1
The Market is a great combination of innovation and tradition, with an indoor ice rink, a Ferris wheel, all kinds of other activities and nostalgic Christmas chalets fitted with red roofs and gorgeous garlands.
Castle Christmas Fair, December 7-10
One of the most magical Christmas fairs in North Holland is the Castle Christmas Fair, taking place at the age-old Assumburg Castle in Heemskerk.
At the castle grounds, around 20.000 visitors will enter into a winter wonderland featuring a Christmas bazaar with a wide range of seasonal wares and an exclusive programme with winter fashion, performances and culinary treats.
Dordrecht Christmas Market, December 15-17
The historic inner city of Dordrecht is home to the largest Christmas market in the Netherlands, with hundreds of market stands and multiple stages to the backdrop of the city’s iconic inner ports.
Dordrecht is a small and charming city with just over 100.000 people. The whole inner city participates in the Dordrecht Christmas Market, so that the stalls are well-dispersed and not too busy. Different areas have different themes, and strolling through them gives you a great view of the beautiful streets of Dordrecht!
Haarlem Christmas Market, December 9-10
At the Haarlem Christmas Market, more than 300 stalls are laid out like ribbons through the inner city, coming together to form one of the most celebrated Christmas events in the Netherlands.
The wares stand among choirs that sing Christmas songs, stirring up those warm and fuzzy Yuletide feelings like no other. Haarlem is a particularly good place to host a market thanks to its compact size and pedestrian-friendly streets. The quality of the items being sold is rather high, with lots of handmade crafts and artisan foods.
Archeon Midwinter Fair, 9-10 December
For those who’d like to do something special this winter, which doesn't necessarily follow the classic Christmas aesthetic, there is the Midwinter Fair, a charming fantasy event at Archeon.
The indoor market is filled with interesting stalls, and the outdoor terrain contains all kinds of tents with traditional tradesmen selling their unique items. Warm yourself by one of the fires, check out one of the interesting bands and grab a bite after shopping. There will also be various fun shows to admire, as well as trade demonstrations and medieval fights.
Knüss Winterfest Utrecht, December 11-13
The Knüss Winterfest embraces winter. The inner city of Utrecht transforms into a seasonal paradise that will warm the heart of any visitor. Various Christmas markets combine to create one big festival that also includes an ice rink, all kinds of music, and servings of spiced glühwein and warm chocolate milk.
Royal Christmas Fair The Hague, December 15-24
Aiming for an international audience, the stately Lange Voorhout in The Hague will once again transform into the Royal Christmas Fair. The fair is set to be even more fun and colourful than previous years, with more than 80 Christmas chalets, a Children’s market, thousands of lights and a diverse cultural programme.
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.
Floating Christmas Market Leiden, December 15-27
Floating Christmas Market Leiden was named the best Christmas market in Europe last year by kerstmarkten.nl and Verkeersbureaus. This year is the seventh edition of the scaffolded spectacle on the canals of the historic inner city of Leiden. In 2016, 150.000 visitors entered the winter village. This year will see 75 wooden chalets full of merchandise, and interesting attractions include a floating ice rink, multiple performances and a winter boat tour.
Dickens Festival, December 16-17
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. Aromas of roast chestnuts, the towering Christmas trees and beautifully restored buildings form the stage of this city-wide performance.
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 can run up to 1,5 hours. On the plus side, entry is free!