During Christmas in Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Light Festival brightens the beautiful Amsterdam canals with amazing light art sculptures. Looking for more things to do in December in Amsterdam? Go ice skating at the Museumplein. The Museumplein is the heart of Christmas celebrations. Lots of cozy lights and a Christmas market in Amsterdam where you can eat Dutch traditional seasonal food such as oliebollen and glüwein, as well as German sausages and beer. For the ultimate Christmas experience book this winter walking tour in Amsterdam to spot all the hidden gems of the city.
Christmas in The Netherlands
The spirit of Christmas enters the Netherlands after the traditional Dutch feast of Saint Nicolas (Sinterklaas, Santa in Holland) on December 5. From mid December, schools in The Netherlands close for 2 weeks. Families prepare their homes for this special time with candles and a really decorated Christmas tree. Christmas is a real family celebration.
Christmas Eve, December 24, is ‘Kerstavond‘, but Christmas eve is not celebrated in the Netherlands. Christians might attend a traditional Christmas mass followed by hot drinks with family or neighbors.
December 25, it is ‘1st’ Christmas Day. This day is an official holiday. Most people will visit their family to enjoy a Christmas dinner. The next day (26 December) it is ‘2nd’ Christmas Day, also a holiday! The festive period ends with New Year Eve. In Amsterdam, it is celebrated heavily with fireworks.
Are shops and museums closed in Amsterdam on Christmas?
December 26 is Second Christmas Day (‘Boxing Day’). In all of The Netherlands, shops will be closed. But in bigger cities, like Amsterdam, most shops, museums, and restaurants are open. Due to COVID, shops will close at 17.00 hours (5 pm), except supermarkets.
Things to do in December in Amsterdam in 2022
Finding things to do in December in Amsterdam, is not difficult! There are many markets where you can shop for Christmas presents. Try to find one of the maker markets, where you can buy handmade gifts. Often these special items are sold to you directly by the maker. Keep checking the calendar of events in Amsterdam in December. Looking for a Christmas market outside Amsterdam? Find the best Christmas markets in The Netherlands.
Cruise the canals during the Amsterdam Light Festival
From 1 December 2022 until 22 January the Amsterdam Light Festival takes place. Amazing light sculptures, projections, and art installations are placed in and around the Amsterdam Canals. The light art installations are best enjoyed on a canal cruise.
Christmas food from Holland
Like elsewhere, food and drinks are a big part of the festive season in Holland. In the streets of Amsterdam, you will find many ‘oliebollen‘ trucks. You can try a variety of the ‘oil balls’: dough fried in hot oil. It’s a special food that is only eaten at this time of year, especially on New Year Eve. If you are a real foodie, I also highly recommend taking this food tour.
Sweets are also popular: cookies named ‘speculaas‘ and many Dutch treats, often filled with almond. Other seasonal sweets from the Netherlands are ‘tulband‘ (cake), ‘kerststol‘ and chocolate of course.
Spiced hot red wine is also popular. It’s sold at many Christmas markets in Amsterdam under its German name: ‘glüwein’.
Christmas dinner in the Netherlands
At home, a classic Christmas evening in the Netherlands starts with an appetizer of French bread, sausage, and French cheese or raw herring with onions. A classical menu in the Netherlands includes shrimp cocktail, roasted meat or poultry with cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts, chicory. This is followed by a dessert, Irish coffee (coffee with whiskey and cream) and chocolate. All served with lots of red wine!
Ice Rink at Museum Square, December 2022
Among the locals, the ice rink at Museumplein is popular among children. The pond in front of the Rijksmuseum is a skater’s paradise when it transforms into an ice rink all of the month of December. There is even a miniature version of Amsterdam’s famous Skinny Bridge.
This year, there is no ice rink at Rembrandtplein. Also at Museumplein, there are limited stalls and eateries. The Ice Village events which are are normally at Museumplein are canceled.
Albert Christmas Cuyp
Albert Cuyp is Amsterdam’s favorite old-school market. It lies in the heart of De Pijp, a fun neighborhood with lots of cafés to go for food and drinks. The week before Christmas, the Albert Cuyp market dresses up seasonally with lots of extra lights and a heavy dose of Christmas spirit.
More Christmas markets in the Netherlands
Want more? Near Amsterdam lie the cities of Haarlem and Leiden, famous for their Christmas markets. Read more about the best Christmas Markets in the Netherlands.