Travel to the dutch & german christmas markets

dutch cristmas
Go dutch this christmas for early festive cheer

The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and the supermarkets are full of mince pies: there's no denying that Christmas is approaching fast!

Feast of Saint Nicolas - Sinterklaas!

Festivities start early in the Netherlands with the celebration of the feast of Saint Nicolas, or Sinterklaas, in a tradition dating back to the 4th century. The arrival of the white-bearded saint will be recreated on 16 November this year, with Sinterklaas sailing up the Amstel River into the heart of Amsterdam with 600 of his chimney sweep assistants, known as 'Zwarte Piet' (Black Peter) and sacks stuffed with gifts in a lively, kilometre-long parade. 


On 5 December, local children lay out their shoes before bedtime, hoping they'll contain a gift come morning - well-behaved kids receive chocolate letters and marzipan while the naughty ones get a lump of coal from Black Peter.

utrecht christmas market
Utrecht Christmas Fair

The Netherlands is also home to magical Christmas markets, such as the Utrecht Christmas Fair (27-30 November). Held in the grounds of the medieval De Haar castle, just one hour's drive from the Hook of Holland, the Utrecht market welcomes 200 stalls selling everything from organic delicacies to handmade toys.

christmas stalls
Valkenburg christmas markets

The medieval town of Valkenburg (two hours' drive from Hook of Holland) becomes a veritable Christmas town, with markets both on its picturesque streets and in the atmospheric Velvet Caves below it (14 November - 23 December).

German christmas markets

With German cities such as Cologne and Düsseldorf only 3 hours' drive from the Hook of Holland, there's no need to limit yourself to festivities in the Netherlands.

Christmas in Düsseldorf

In Düsseldorf, the Königsallee (King's Alley) is lined with "gingerbread house" stalls, which spill out onto nearby squares and courtyards, lit by thousands of fairy lights. There's free ice-skating on the large outdoor rink on Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz and countless sausage, Stollen and Glühwein stalls to sustain you as you shop.

Cologne Chrismas markets

Cologne hosts no fewer than seven markets (24 November - 24 December), including the famous Christkindlmarkt at the foot of Cologne Cathedral and the Alter Markt in the Old Town, whose bustling stalls are laden with wooden toys, nutcrackers and nativity figures and carpenters, glassblowers and blacksmiths give live demonstrations.

The Netherlands
Discover Holland

Read more about all the best dutch highlights for your next trip to The Netherlands.



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