Visit Amsterdam Winter Wonderland
It’s hard to think of anything nicer than spending the winter holidays in Amsterdam. This city is always beautiful, but it turns positively magical in the winter! This is the perfect place to bring your family, your partner, or a group of friends. Amsterdam offers a number of special holiday markets and festivals that will ensure memories that will last a lifetime.
Ice Village and the Museumplein Ice Skating Rink
The Ice VillageLink opens in a new tab will usually open in mid-December. This Christmas market can be found in front of the RijksmuseumLink opens in a new tab, the national museum of the Netherlands featuring all the Dutch masters. Visit the world-famous masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Van Gogh, and then shop at the charming Ice Village! You can even ice skate on the gorgeous open air rink—what could be more like a winter wonderland than this? Ice skating is a Dutch tradition (Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates, anyone?) and the cozy refreshment stalls surrounding the rink will keep you hydrated and refreshed.
Amsterdam Winter Paradise
From December 25 to January 9, a special winter festivalLink opens in a new tab will be open in the large indoor halls and beautiful outdoor area of the RAI Amsterdam. This event features both indoor and outdoor ice skating, favorites of children like a Ferris Wheel and merry-go-round, and even cross-country skiing! There will be live musical performances daily and stalls full of holiday items to peruse. Of course, no holiday festival would be complete without food and drink, and the Amsterdam Winter Paradise won’t disappoint, with a wide variety of tasteful treats!
Amsterdam Light Festival
Lucky you, visiting the famous canals of Amsterdam during the winter holiday season! Of course, the canal tours are always a must-do, but taking a canal tour during the light festivalLink opens in a new tab is a special experience.
Twenty illuminated works of art will be on display in the open air, along the canal route through the center of the city. The audio for the tour is available in both Dutch and English, to tell more about the stories behind the gorgeous art displays.
The tour is available from December 2 to January 23—don’t miss this one!
Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) Welcome Parade
Sinterklaas is coming to town! Dutch children adore Sinterklaas, who rides a white horse named Amerigo. As in America with Santa Claus, there are many charming traditions around this beloved figure. Dutch children place their shoe by the chimney with an apple or a carrot inside as a treat for Amerigo! Sinterklaas is grateful for the children's care for his horse, and he replaces the apple or carrot with a gift for the child.
The 5th of December is Sinterklaasavond, or St. Nicholas’ Eve. The feast of St. NicholasLink opens in a new tab has been celebrated for around 700 years! There will be a welcome paradeLink opens in a new tab to welcome Sinterklaas on November 14. He is traditionally in the country of Holland from November 14 to December 5. If you are visiting Amsterdam with children, you won’t want to miss this beloved parade!
Oliebollen and other Dutch Treats
There are some lovely holiday foods you must be sure to try. Many of these can be found at the holiday markets’ food stalls! OliebollenLink opens in a new tab is a type of doughnut or beignet, sometimes with fruit inside, that is traditional to eat at New Year’s Eve. The name translates to “oily balls,” but the taste is much more appetizing than that! PoffertjiesLink opens in a new tab are a small Dutch pancake, served with powdered sugar and butter, or dipped in chocolate.
And of course, you cannot leave Amsterdam without trying a stroopwafel!Link opens in a new tab Made of two thin sweet waffle-like wafers, stuck together by a glorious sticky layer of caramel syrup, these are divine dipped in coffee or tea, or just eaten by themselves. Legend has it these were invented by a baker trying to reduce waste by using his leftover cookie crumbs! He mixed the crumbs into a dough, made the thin crispy waffle layers and the syrup, and a star was born. Waste not, want not!
For an extra fun treat, visit Van Wonderen StroopwafelsLink opens in a new tab to watch them made in front of you, and eat them fresh and warm. These are famous for being extremely Instagrammable, with candies and colorful toppings!
Truly a Winter Wonderland
There are so many lovely places in Amsterdam, and they’re only made more magical with the holidays in the crisp fresh air. No matter which of these traditions you choose to partake in, Amsterdam is sure to offer you a fantastic winter holiday, and make memories that will be treasured.