Christmas in Amsterdam

by Tanja
Christmas tree Amsterdam Dam

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

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.

Christmas Day

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?

Almost all shops, museums and restaurants in Amsterdam will be closed on Christmas Day. However, the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Hermitage and Stedelijk Museum are open for visitors.

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.

Christmas bread from the Netherlands: Kerststol.


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

Busy at weekends at the ice rink at Museumplein.

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.

Sausage on the Christmas market in Amsterdam.
German and Duch sausages help you stay warm during Christmas in Amsterdam.

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.

Christmas market in Leiden.

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Leave a Reply to Courtney Cancel Reply


courtney November 13, 2017 - 09:24


Turn on the Lights’, 18 November 2017

Christmas in Amsterdam Dam Square
Christmas Lights at Bijenkorf, Amsterdam Dam Square.

The Christmas spirit enters Amsterdam when the lights on the gable of luxury department store Bijenkorf are lit. Every year, a crowd gathers on Dam Square to witness the event. In 2017, the event, Turn on the Lights, is on November 18.It is a great event to see.

In 2017, the Spanish theatre company Grupo Puja entertains the crowd with a show of acrobatics, music and light. Fireworks accompany the turning on the lights.

Tanja November 13, 2017 - 11:46

Hi! I made a mistake! It’s Thursday 16 November 2017. Sorry! Thanks for your comment.

Arijeet October 2, 2017 - 08:33

Hi, we are planning to visit Amsterdam from 23rd to 25th December 2017. How about the city on Christmas day? Is everything closed on 25th? How about the public transport?

Tanja October 2, 2017 - 11:14

On Christmas day, most of the shops in Amsterdam will be closed. Some tourist/souvenir shops might still be open. The bigger museums like Rijksmuseum are open. Public transport is functioning as normal. Enjoy your holidays!

Lea October 2, 2017 - 18:48

How about on Boxing Day? Will shops and restaurants be closed?

Tanja October 23, 2017 - 10:27

On Boxing Day, shops and restaurants in the centre of Amsterdam will be open as normal.

Courtney September 11, 2017 - 10:01

I’m going to Amsterdam on the 28th-31st December. are there any Christmas markets at this time?

Tanja September 13, 2017 - 18:16

It’s really too soon to say anything about Christmas in Amsterdam.

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