Living the Dutch life - December 2019

Excellent Winter Treats for Expats!

Light Festival

Enjoy this Light Festival in Amsterdam, with exclusive creations made by international top artists. On until 19 January 2020, when dusk falls brightly coloured projections and dynamic light installations illuminate the city’s waterways and streets. The light art sculptures can be seen on foot, by bike and by boat across the entire city centre. Each year talented artists, architects and designers submit their ideas to a committee who selects the best designs for the festival. The festival also hosts several activities in museums, theatres and restaurants. 

Sinterklaas Celebration

On 5 December the long-awaited evening of present-giving is celebrated in most Dutch homes. Children will sing songs to Sinterklaas whilst awaiting a knock at the door where they usually find a bag filled with gifts. Adults dress up as Sinterklaas or Piet and organise surprises for family and friends. A 'secret santa' is organised beforehand where names are picked out of a hat. The gifts are traditionally hidden in a handcrafted package and 
include a funny personalised message about the receiver. This is a great opportunity to get creative and make it hard for the receiver to find the hidden gift.


Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival

Visit one of the top-5 winter events in the Netherlands - The Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival! On until 1 March 2020 in Zwolle, the festival is a fun experience for the whole family. In a large icehall (1,500 m2) you will find enchanting ice sculptures following the theme of 'Journey Through Time', such as a Mammoth with huge tusks, a steam locomotive and Rembrandt’s famous painting, The Night Watch. During the Christmas Break there will also be an ice slide and a special Winter Wonderland playground for children. On the catering terrace you can enjoy a hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm up, but make sure to dress warm as well!


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 2019 while free oliebollen are offered. At midnight, beautiful fireworks burst from the Erasmus Bridge, the icon of Rotterdam. For children there is a special children’s fireworks show at 7 pm. The countdown and fireworks are broadcasted live on national television in case you cannot make it.


New Year’s Dive

Celebrate the 1st of January the traditional Dutch way by plunging into the ice-cold North Sea at more than 80 locations throughout the country, however the largest by far is at the beach of Scheveningen. After a festive New Year’s Eve with oliebollen, apple flapjacks and champagne, it is definitely a fresh way to start the new year! To help stay warm, participants at Scheveningen are offered an original Unox cap and split pea soup.


Winter Activities

The month of December is the most magical time of year as the cities are decorated with lights and fun cosy winter activities are organised. In most big cities you will find all sorts of outdoor and indoor Christmas markets of varying themes. You can also find great ice-skating rinks in many Dutch cities. Please find below some of our recommendations:

Christmas City Valkenburg
– 15 November to 5 January

Winter Fair Rotterdam – 5 to 8 December

Christmas market Haarlem – 7 to 8 December

Ice Amsterdam – 13 to 26 December *

Dickens Festival Deventer – 14 to 15 December

Magical Maastricht – 29 to 31 December *


* includes ice-skating rink!


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