It’s winter, it’s December, so do you know what that means? It’s almost Christmas!! This is the second time I have spent winter in the Netherlands, but it’s the first time I’m actually spending Christmas in Amsterdam and I’m so excited.
If you read my Halloween in Amsterdam post, you would have seen that Halloween isn’t really celebrated here. However, Christmas is a HUGE celebration! As soon as it’s November, the lights go up and the ice skating rink is set up.
This is my favourite celebration of the year so read on to find out why!!!
The Dutch version of Saint Nicholas, or Santa Claus, is Sinterklaas. He arrives every year by boat on the canal in mid-November with a big parade. He rides a beautiful horse called Amerigo through the city of Amsterdam passing sweets and gifts to children.
The 5th December is when Sinterklaas and Piet leaves bags of presents outside of children’s doors and on the 6th December, the feast of St Nicholas is celebrated!
Like Santa, Sinterklaas has a helper called “Zwarte Piet”, which is translated to Black Pete. However, in recent years this has had a major backlash, with people calling it racist. You can read more about why here, but changes are being implemented in recent years.
Alongside an ice skating rink (more about that later!) on the museumplein, the Ice Village is set up. From mid to late December this market is open and it’s so much fun to browse around.
However, there are waayyyy more Christmas markets then just this one. The Museum Market is open for a day on the museumplein, as is the Pure Markt which is a travelling market and changes every week. The Sunday Market has a ‘Wintergas’ to celebrate winter time.
And don’t forget Het Amsterdamse Winterparadijs! Based in the RAI, from mid December to early January, the winter paradise opens. With ice skating rinks, ferris wheels and a helter skelter, this is the perfect place to spend the day. Inside there are lots of activities for children too.
Ice Skating on the Museumplein is one of my favourite parts of Christmas in Amsterdam! It opens in mid-November and lasts until mid-January and it’s right in front of the Rijksmuseum. The prices in 2021 were €6 for 2 hours skating and €12.5 for 2 hours and ice skate hires.
Also previously mentioned is the ice skating at the Winter Paradise in the RAI which is open from mid – December.
Be sure to check out the Christmas tree in Dam Square which stands at 65ft tall! It’s decorated beautifully and there is a whole tree lighting ceremony.
Every year, a wonderful ballet performance is put on during the month of December. It’s based in the Nationale Opera and Ballet building in Amstel. In 2021 they are doing a performance of the Nutcracker which is an awesome Christmas classic.
You can’t forget to check out the light festival! From the beginning of December to the end of January, the light festival takes place along the canals! You can experience this via a cruise, or it’s a 6.5km walk starting at Centraal Station.
De Bijenkorf is probably the most popular place to go Christmas shopping. Not only is it a huge department store, but the festive atmosphere when you’re inside is electric.
If you’re into fashion then PC Hooftstraat is the place to go with designer stores and Christmas lights. And for the unique type of gifts then I’ve heard that Jordaan is the area to go.
Dutch food is certainly interesting, and at Christmas time, a whole host of food stands appear selling their delicacies. I’m going to leave a list of all the Dutch food with links so you can read about what they are (otherwise this will be the longest blog post ever).
And that is how we celebrate Christmas in Amsterdam!