A Winter Wonderland in Amsterdam
These days it looks like everybody feels the winter holidays’ joy and warmth in Amsterdam, having their eyes sparkle in the light of the city’s remarkable decoration. It’s not only the Light Festival and Christmas ornamentation of the streets that create a unique charming spirit, but also exciting open-air ice rinks, colorful Christmas markets, nice smells of Dutch specialties, additional highly recommended events and simply people being somewhat kinder, nicer and more cheerful. No expectations of the white Christmas should be made, yet the snow is substituted with so much more worth coming for. They say that this year feels especially festive and that nowadays the Dutch tend to celebrate Christmas more.
Fun Christmas Activities
Amsterdam is gorgeous when all the canals are frozen, unfortunately it doesn’t happen too often and not this time yet. That is why the Dutch have come up with a brilliant idea of setting up ice-skating rinks at the most famous squares of the city. Try yourself with rental skates at Leidseplein or Christmas village on Ice at Museumplein and experience some outdoor fun to the sound of Christmas songs and laughter.
What can be great after this active pastime is strolling along Amsterdam Christmas markets, full of hand-crafted gifts, original holiday edibles and seasonal inspirations. The major one is at Damrak and Beursplein, but fairytale-like wooden chalets at Rembrandtplein have lots of items and a nice festive atmosphere as well. After having some joyful time there, you can go for some more fancy shopping at the beautifully decorated Nine Streets, Haarlemerstraat or very busy but nonetheless very versatile and popular Kalverstraat.
Christmas smells in Amsterdam
Of course, the most common smells of winter holidays remain to be a fresh aroma of Christmas tree, fruity fragrance of tangerines and delicious flavor of turkey or goose. Nevertheless, you might want to add a couple of new odors to the Dutch holiday list. First come oliebollen – local deep-fried sweet balls that can be smelled far away from the pop-up stands where they are sold. You can find tiny poffertjes (mini fluffy pancakes) with sugar powder prepared to order at the neighboring stall. It is impossible to resist Christmas stollen– a distinctive pie with raisins and other dry fruits, Christmas pastry and chocolate rings (by the way, they also look amazing as a decoration!) as well as appelflapje with a yummy apple inside.
If you feel that it’s enough of sweet stuff for you this season, then maybe Amsterdam Christmas will smell to you like lamb, venison or rabbit with a delicious melt-in-your-mouth sauce. How about having it accompanied by a spicy mulled wine in a cozy Dutch restaurant? It is wise to make a dinner reservation though, as there can be quite a few people dining out during this festive season.
Special this year
In case you are interested in the events special for this year Christmas, you might find this overview helpful:
Frank McComb Trio Christmas Dinner Concert at the North Sea Jazz Club in the evening of 25th-26th December for jazz lovers.
Bach’s Christmas Oratorio performed by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra during the afternoon of 25th December- the last time it happened 49 years ago! If you miss that one, then you can still indulge yourself and listen to Bach Choir and Orchestra of the Netherlands on the 26th-27th December.
Winter Circus Amsterdam (on till the 3rd of January) is way more than a regular circus experience at the city’s RAI. This spectacular show will entertain the whole family and bring a smile to everyone’s face.
The Winterparade at Zuiderkerk unites theater, art and dining experience, offering lots of performances, interactive amusement throughout the end of December. The program in English is available here http://www.iamexpat.nl/lifestyle/whats-on/upcoming/amsterdam/other/winterparade-2015 , but most of the shows are in Dutch.
Last but not least
While some public places will be closed on Christmas days (25th and 26th of December), you will be pleasantly surprised with the shorter lines to famous museums in the city that have their doors open specially for you. Do not leave Amsterdam without having a look at how Christmas was celebrated here in the 19thcentury. “Christmas in Willet” exhibition at the Museum Willet-Holthuysen will demonstrate you the magic of the past.
And if the year is not over for you with Christmas celebration and you are craving for more fun and activities in Amsterdam, then make sure to check the events for New Year’s celebration in the city: http://www.iamsterdam.com/en/visiting/whats-on/new-years-eve-celebrations
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone! Let this time of the year be especially warm and cozy for you and your loved ones!
This post is also available in: Dutch