Winter in Amsterdam

By Janette

Marketeer and social media expert who just "happens" to speak Chinese fluently. Moved to the capital one year ago and shares her Amsterdam discoveries with you.

November 7, 2018

"It's the most wonderful time of the year..." Winter in Amsterdam always have something magical. And there is so much to do! Let's forget it is cold outside and discover Amsterdam in a unique way.

Christmas activities

Christmas marketstalls in Amsterdsam cozy winter

Winter in Amsterdam does not per se revolve around Christmas, but it is a big part. Over the years, the Dutch have adopted some great Christmas experience for both locals and tourists. We all know the big Christmas fairs in London and Berlin. But did you know the Dutch know how to organize Christmas markets as well?

The Amsterdam Winter Parade

The Winter Parade is the Dutch answer to these fairs to prove Amsterdam owns Christmas. This huge festival takes place in the Amsterdam RAI, from end of December until January 1st.  Be prepared for a full day of ice skating, Christmas disco, Christmas movies and oliebollen (Dutch doughnuts). Or shop for hours at the countless stalls that sell Christmas balls and other decorations for your Christmas tree. To give you an indication of the size of the Parade: the skating rink alone is already 700 square meters.

Winter Village Amstelveen

The city center of the cozy town Amstelveen, next to Amsterdam, turns into a real-life Christmas village. The family-friendly Christmas market has something for everyone. Strap on those ice skates and enjoy yourself on the skating track or have a drink at one of the intimate terraces. While you’re here, check out the over 60 stalls of winter- and Christmas gifts and accessories. The winter village usually starts around the end of November until the first week of January.

Ice skating rink in front of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam next to Royal Coster Diamonds

Ice Amsterdam

Mid-November, the world famous Museum Square, at the front door of Royal Coster Diamonds, transforms into a giant ice rink. You can take ice skating lessons, admire beautiful ice sculptures or enjoy some hot beverages. Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the area around the ice rink is an entire Christmas village. Enjoy the many stalls, fairs, live entertainments and – of course – the hot tasty Dutch treats. The rink stays until the beginning of February.

Wintery foods and drinks

When it’s cold outside, there are not many things that can beat a tasty hot meal. Here are some of the finest restaurants where you can enjoy the best Dutch meals:

couple enjoying romantic christmas dinner over candle light

Vondelpark 3

Inside the famous, magical Dutch park “the Vondelpark, you’ll find a restaurant called “Vondelpark 3”. In the winter time, they serve these amazing Burgundy Winter Dishes for two. Imagine having this in a romantic restaurant in a romantic location. Sounds like the perfect date for a cold day, doesn’t it?

Café Jaap

Next to the ice rink, you’ll find this characteristic bar. After a long day of skating (or shopping), there’s nothing that tasted better than a typical Dutch sandwich with smoked sausage, some bock beers, and some hot stew.

Dutch split pea soup stew smoked sausage and bacon

The Pantry

If you want to try some typical Dutch winter dishes, you can eat your heart out at The Pantry. The seemingly old-fashioned interior is the old traditional furniture from the Netherlands. It’s like you’re visiting your Dutch granny. And like your Dutch grandma, they serve the best traditional split pea soup with rye bread and Dutch bacon.

Café Bern

When you visit this Amsterdam pub, you get to experience the well-known Dutch ‘gezelligheid’ with the Dutch locals. Tip: the cheese fondue is heavenly!

boat cruising the Amsterdam canal during Amsterdan Light Festival

Culture and arts

In a city that is known for its culture, life is never boring. Whether you like to explore the rich history if Amsterdam or prefer a taste of the modern arts, we have just the thing(s) for you.

The Amsterdam Light Festival

The Amsterdam Light Festival puts the city literally in the spotlights during the dark winter months. From November 30 until January the 21st, the city sparkles with many light art installations. National and international artists created unique works of art for this famous Light Fest. The canals of Amsterdam form the enchanting background for the festival. Therefore, the Light Festival is best seen from the water in one of the many canal color cruises.

Classical Ballet Performances

Surprise her with tickets to a classical ballet performance. Many world-famous shows appear in Amsterdam every winter. Experience The Nutcracker in Carré or Sleeping Beauty in the “Nationale Opera & Ballet”.

National Tulip Day

The tulip is the national flower of the Netherlands. People from all over the world visit The Keukenhof to see these amazing tulips. However, January the 20th is the National Tulip Day in the Netherlands. This means that you can pick your own tulip in Amsterdam from the large pop-up garden situated at the Dam Square.

Tulip field in front of Dutch palace in Amsterdam

Party in Amsterdam

He who is looking to party in Amsterdam will enjoy himself for sure. Besides the many hot clubs and discotheques, there are many festivals and other party-related activities in Amsterdam.

Valhalla Electronic Music Parade

On the 23rd of December 2017, the magical and enchanting Valhalla Festival will be back in the RAI Amsterdam venue! Valhalla showcases a hit list of leading DJs representing an extensive variety of styles. There’s something for everyone: from disco to deep house and from techno to club house. The festival also brings classic circus culture into the mix, offering an exhilarating ride that is not to be missed.

fireworks show in Amsterdam

The New Year Countdown

Join the many Amsterdam residents on December the 31st during the National New Year’s Countdown. The thrilling countdown takes place at the “Oostdok” and is followed by one of the biggest fireworks show of the Netherlands.

New Year’s Eve Parties

At New Year’s Eve, you can’t walk through the city and not encounter a street party. Wherever you go, the party finds you. You can find the biggest outdoor parties in the city center at the Nieuwmarkt, Leidseplein and Rembrandplein.

group of people celebrating New Year's Eve

For more information about Christmas activities, food places, museums, cultural places of interest and parties, please contact our travel department. They will help you to get the most out of your trip to Amsterdam.

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