Living the Dutch life - December

Light up the dark Winter days

Amsterdam Light Festival

Amsterdam Light Festival offers the opportunity to view exclusive creations made by international top artists up until 21 January 2018. When dusk falls brightly coloured projections and dynamic light installations light up the canals, historical buildings and city parks. The exhibition can be seen on foot and by boat across the entire city centre. The festival also hosts several artist talks and performances and offers the chance to warm up with food or mulled wine at the Marineterrein. Every year a selection is made of the best concepts submitted by many talented artists, architects and designers to create innovative and unique works of art.

Sinterklaas Celebration

On 5 December the long awaited present evening is celebrated in most Dutch homes. Children will sing songs to Sinterklaas until they hear a knock on their door and find a bag filled with gifts. Adults throughout the Netherlands dress up as Sinterklaas or Piet, often to the confusion of the children. Sinterklaas carries with him a big book with the name of every person in it telling him who deserves a present.

Older children and adults also celebrate 5 December by making poems and so called surprises for family or friends. Before the holiday, lots with the participants names are drawn on them and gifts are bought secretly. The gifts are usually accompanied by funny poems containing puns and personal things about the receiver. The poem is often used to mock somebody in front of the whole family and the gifts are traditionally hidden in a handcrafted package telling something about the receiver. Some people get creative and competitive making this package using strange materials and clues to make it difficult for the receiver to find the hidden gift. 

Candle Night Gouda

Experience this magical Christmas event in the city of Gouda marked by countless lit candles on 15 December. Gouda by Candle Light is a festive day full of musical, theatre and culture. From noon there will be all kinds of activities outside and in several museums and churches. At sunset the electrical lights will be turned off and the windows will be illuminated by candles for the ceremony at the Market square, the highlight of the day. A huge Christmas tree in the middle of the square will be enlightened by the Mayor when he gives his speech and thousands of people will sing Christmas carols.

Besides the cheese and stroopwafels the city is famous for, Gouda is also known for its candles. The candles are made from a natural wax that burns steadily for hours and they can be purchased as souvenir in and around the city.

National Fireworks Rotterdam

During New Year’s Eve the biggest and most spectacular fireworks show of the Netherlands takes place in Rotterdam. The evening starts with a musical countdown on the quay playing the greatest hits of 2017 while free oliebollen are offered. At midnight beautiful fireworks will burst from the Erasmus Bridge, the icon of Rotterdam. It is 800 metres long and has a 139 metre high pylon in the shape of a swan. For children there is a special children’s fireworks show at 7 pm. The countdown and fireworks are broadcast live on national television in case you can not be there.

New Year’s Dive Scheveningen

Celebrate the 1st of January the traditional Dutch way by plunging into the ice cold North Sea water along the coast of Scheveningen. Although only for the brave hearted, each year the number of participants increases. There are more than 80 locations throughout the country organising a New Year’s Dive, but the largest dive is held at the beach of Scheveningen. After a festive New Year’s Eve with oliebollen, apple flapjacks and champagne it is definitely a way to start the new year off fresh! To stay warm all participants are offered an original Unox cap and split pea soup. To get an impression of the New Year’s Dive in Scheveningen one of the after movies can be watched here.

Winter Activities

The month of December is the most magical time of the year as the cities are decorated with twinkling lights for the holidays and fun and cosy winter activities are organised. In most big cities all kinds of outdoor or indoor Christmas markets are organised. Some with unique settings in Dickens Style and choirs singing Christmas carols or underground markets in gorgeous caves. And often you can also find great temporary ice-skating rinks in many Dutch cities. Please find below some of our recommendations:

* includes ice-skating rink!

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