Living the Dutch life - December

The most magical time of the year

Light Festival

Enjoy this beautiful Light Festival in Amsterdam until 20 January 2019, with exclusive creations made by top international artists. When the dusk falls at the end of the day, 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. Every year a selection is made of the best ideas submitted by many talented artists, architects and designers to create innovative and unique works of art. The festival also hosts several activities in museums, theatres and restaurants. 

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. Older children and adults celebrate 5 December by making poems and surprises for family or friends. The surprises are gifts made personal to the receiver, accompanied by funny poems and jokes. The gifts are traditionally hidden in a handcrafted package and some people get really creative and competitive making this, using all kinds of strange materials and clues to 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. In Zwolle until 3 March 2019 enjoy this fun and unique experience for the whole family. In a large icehall you will find enchanting worlds with beautiful ice sculptures, following the World Famous Stories theme, so expect Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin. 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 2018 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 TV, in case you can not be there.

New Year’s Dive

Celebrate the 1st of January the traditional Dutch way by plunging into the ice cold North Sea! The number of participants each year increases and there are more than 80 locations throughout the country organizing a New Year’s Dive! The largest dive, however, 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 fresh! To stay warm all participants are offered an original Unox cap and split pea soup...

Winter Activities

The month of December is the most magical time of the year as the cities come alive and people enjoy the wonderful variety of fun and cosy winter activities. In most big cities, their outdoor or indoor Christmas markets are definitely worth a visit! From unique settings in Dickens Style, choirs singing Christmas carols to underground markets in spellbinding caves, we recommend you get out and explore what there is to offer in your city. Please find below some of our recommendations:

Christmas City Valkenburg – from 16 November till 6 January

Magical Maastricht – 1 until 31 December *

Winter Fair Rotterdam – from 5 until 9 December

Christmas market Haarlem – from 8 until 9 December

Ice Amsterdam – from 14 until 26 December *

Dickens Festival Deventer – from 15 until 16 December

* includes ice-skating rink!


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