Experience Dutch Christmas Traditions and Celebrate the Festive Season in the Netherlands of 2023

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During the festive season, this northwestern European country magically transforms into a brightly illuminated arena with a multitude of adorned Christmas trees in the Netherlands and many other opportunities for visitors to enjoy and have a fun-filled experience. The festive season in this area commences in the month of November and the celebrations carry on until the conclusion of January. The celebrations of Christmas in the Netherlands present a variety of thrilling choices for activities to engage in across different locations.

Climate During Christmas In Netherlands

Weather During Christmas In Netherlands

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The festive season in the Netherlands is commonly the period when peak winters hit this European region. In the Netherlands, December is the most precipitation-filled month of the year, and January is the chilliest.

The weather during Christmas in the Netherlands is quite frigid. The winters in the Netherlands are so cold that even the water in the canals and lakes of the region freeze. The cold weather may be accompanied by forceful and vigorous winds. Individuals planning a trip to the Netherlands during the festive season must be prepared to handle extremely low temperatures. Adequate warm clothing must be packed if one wishes to spend their Christmas in the Netherlands.

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Activities During Christmas In The Netherlands

Events During Christmas

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Sinterklaas is a prominent figure in the Netherlands, whose arrival in the country signifies the commencement of the Netherlands festive season. The arrival of Sinterklaas is a highly significant and important Christmas tradition in the Netherlands.

Sinterklaas arrives in Amsterdam on 13th November each year. People from every corner of the country gather along the river Amstel to catch a glimpse of the arrival of this joyful figure. Sinterklaas arrives on an exquisitely decorated speedboat that is certain to capture the attention of every visitor. He then gets on a white horse that joins the parade and marches through the main streets of Amsterdam. Sinterklaas stays in the city until Christmas Eve in the Netherlands and is said to depart after presenting families with numerous gifts.

This entire occasion is widely recognized throughout Netherlands as Sinterklaasavond or Pakjesavond and is a significant tradition of Christmas in the Netherlands.

Markets To Explore During Christmas In Netherlands

The local markets are illuminated with vibrant Christmas lights in Netherlands and are well supplied with seasonal products. Some of the must-visit markets during the Christmas period in the Netherlands are provided below:

1. WinterWelVaart


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This is a renowned Christmas market in the Groningen region of Netherlands. During the Christmas season, this market showcases a variety of traditional wooden stalls offering exciting choices to purchase. This market opens up to the canals encompassed by this town, which are completely frozen during this time of the year and provides wonderful opportunities for a thrilling experience of ice-skating on naturally formed ice.

Location: Lage der A, Groningen, NetherlandsDuration: 17th to 19th December

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2. Christmas Market Velvet Cave

Christmas Market Velvet Cave

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This market is established in a majestic manner under the Valkenburg Castle ruins in the Limburg region. During the festive season, over 60 merchants gather here to set up their shops, offering an intriguing array of merchandise. These caverns beneath the castle are adorned with colorful lights, which magically transform them into a mesmerizing vibrant area. Visitors and tourists also have the opportunity to take a guided tour into these caverns and the castle that stands above them.

Location: Valkenburg Castle Ruins, Grendelplein 13, Valkenburg, NetherlandsDuration: 17th November to 23rd December

3. Enchanting Maastricht

Magical Maastricht

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During the festive season of Christmas, Maastricht transforms into a breathtaking shopping destination with numerous market stalls scattered throughout the village pathways. This town sets up these stalls and hosts a multitude of shopping opportunities in the traditional manner to pay homage to the markets established in these areas centuries ago. The ultimate Christmas experience for children in the Netherlands can be found at the game stalls in this area, which offer a diverse range of games. This market also boasts ice-skating rinks, providing an enticing activity to partake in while visiting this region.

Location: Het Vrijthof, Maastricht, NetherlandsDuration: 1st December to 1st January

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Must Try Culinary Delights During Christmas in the Netherlands

The Dutch culinary delights are bound to capture the hearts of every food enthusiast. An array of delectable traditional dishes can be found in almost every street and restaurant in the Netherlands. Here are some of the recommended dishes that have the potential to satisfy the taste buds of every epicurean.

1. Speculaas


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These crispy cookies are typically made and enjoyed during the Sinterklaas arrival festival. A selection of carefully chosen specialty spices are incorporated into these thin cookies to give them a unique and unmistakable flavor. They have a taste somewhat reminiscent of the gingerbread cookies made in the UK. The cookies are shaped in a way that resembles the iconic symbols of the Netherlands, such as windmills.

Where to try: Bakkerrij Simon Meijssen, Van Baerlestraat 23, 1071 AN Amsterdam, Netherlands

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2. Oliebollen


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Oliebollen is translated as “Oil Spheres” in the English language. They are round spheres that have a similar taste to doughnuts and are coated in oil and powdered sugar. They have a high calorie content, but one bite of an Oliebollen and the calories will be forgotten, leading to devouring the entire tray of this exquisite treat. During the Christmas season, numerous experienced vendors and bakers offer a delightful assortment of Oliebollen on nearly every main street of the country.

Where to experience: Lanskroon, Singel 385, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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3. Kerststol


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This delicacy is created by kneading the dough to produce the sweet bread. Next, raisins, sultanas, lemon zest, and brandy are added and the dough is folded in a manner that resembles a type of Swiss roll. This mixture is then baked until the outside becomes golden and crispy. After being removed from the oven, one can relish the soft and moist interior along with the crispy exterior of this delectable treat. It is then glazed with poedersuiker (powdered sugar). It is best enjoyed when accompanied by seasonal wine or beer.

Where to experience: Sugar & Spice Bakery, Zeedijk 75, 1012 AS Amsterdam, Netherlands

Christmas Customs In The Netherlands

Image Credit: Frank Vincentz for Wikimedia

Christmas customs in the Netherlands are typically characterized by the celebration of the birth of Jesus, family gatherings, delectable food and drinks, the arrival of Santa, and the exchange of gifts. The unique tradition here includes Sinterklaas Avond, which is annually celebrated on December 5th as the birthday of St. Nicholas. On this evening, Sinterklaas visits the homes of every child and leaves them a gift. It is similar, but not identical, to Santa Claus giving gifts.

Delicious cuisine is a central part of the holiday festivities, including vegetables, roast pork, and homemade breads. Many families in the Netherlands have chosen to celebrate the festival in their own distinctive cultural style.

Facts About Christmas In The Netherlands

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Here are some captivating fun facts about Christmas in the Netherlands that you should be aware of before you depart for the Dutch land to revel in the festivities.

  • One thing you should be aware of regarding Dutch Christmas traditions is that they have distinct days for giving gifts and celebrating Christmas, namely the 5th of December.
  • Dutch individuals do not have a Santa Claus, they have a Sinterklaas. Instead of riding a sleigh pulled by reindeers, he arrives on a white horse.
  • Observing Christmas in the Netherlands entails every child receiving a chocolate alphabet that begins with their name.
  • The Christmas holiday in the Netherlands is celebrated over two days, the 25th and 26th of December.
  • On Christmas day in the Netherlands, families come together to spend quality time as the gifts have already been exchanged.

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Christmas in the Netherlands during the month of December presents the opportunity to explore various activities in the different towns, villages, and cities scattered across the country. Experience the Christmas festivities in the Netherlands by planning a winter vacation to the Netherlands here with Travel Triangle.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Christmas In The Netherlands

What are some popular Christmas customs in the Netherlands?

Engaging in games, watching films, and indulging in delectable Christmas cuisine constitute the primary Christmas customs in the Netherlands.

What beverages do people in the Netherlands consume during Christmas?

In the Netherlands, people enjoy a special type of mulled wine known as glühwein, which they start drinking at the beginning of the Christmas season.

What is typically eaten in the Netherlands during Christmas?

A typical Christmas meal in the Netherlands consists of venison, turkey with an abundance of vegetables, goose, and Kerstbrood (Christmas bread).

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