It is known worldwide that Dutch people love cycling (fiets in Dutch), so why not experience the city like the locals? Amsterdam during this time of year is absolutely stunning. Christmas trees, decorations and colorful lights combined with the beautiful canals turn the city into a fairytale. Beginning from the heart of Amsterdam, Centraal Station and Dam Square, you can follow the bike paths that will give you access to every corner of the city. In case you are not fond of cycling, the bike-taxis can offer you an amazing and relaxed tour.
The Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual event during winter holidays. Dutch and international artists transform the city every year into a light spectacle. It is worth mentioning that each year new techniques are introduced, rendering the festival among the must-see spectacles of Amsterdam during Christmas. The light artwork exhibitions attract everyone’s attention since they offer a contemporary touch to the traditional scenery of the Dutch capital. The Light Festival starts at the end of November and runs until mid-January every year.
The holidays cannot be experienced without some tasty food. Since Amsterdam is full of Christmas Markets, you should definitely taste the Dutch hapjes (snacks), such as the olieballen and appelbeignets. They are both traditional Dutch sweets deep fried in hot oil. Olieballen and appelbeignets are part of the Christmas menu for the local people and easily found at this time of the year in the Xmas stands spread across Amsterdam.
For those who love winter sports, Amsterdam might not offer the mountain sides for skiing, but it will not disappoint you. Two beautiful ice-skating rinks are set up every Christmas season in two beautiful spots of the city — Leidseplein and Museumplein. Two lovely and frequented places, the first is surrounded by Christmas stands and the second one by famous Dutch museums, such as the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk museum. You can ice skate surrounded by a lovely Christmas atmosphere and visit the well known Dutch museums, which happen to be open even during the holidays.
Apart from the bikes, the Dutch love boats, too. Boat cruises in the canals of Amsterdam are a frequent Dutch habit. If you are not into exercise (walking or cycling), then a boat cruise through the city’s canals will be a lovely experience. You can see Amsterdam from another point of view. It would be a nice idea to enjoy the Light Festival from this angle, as many cruise companies offer the opportunity to enjoy the light artworks. Moreover, you can enjoy a warm coffee or a traditional Dutch beer while cruising.
For those who love classic ballet, here is an exceptional proposal, especially for the holidays. RAI Theater in Amsterdam will host the biggest Swan Lake Ballet between December 23rd and 27th. The innovation of this spectacle is that instead of 16 swans, the performance expands to 48 swans, which automatically renders the spectacle unique, taking into account that there has never been a similar performance of such size. The National Ballet of Shanghai will perform for you under the instructions of the producer Derek Deane. Amsterdam offers a variety of performances during the winter season that will surprise you.
Amsterdam is full of Christmas markets during this time of the year. Markets are not only spread across the city but also in nearby places like Haarlem and Leiden. The whole scenery cannot help but make you feel the holiday spirit as you enjoy the nice food and buy gifts for your loved ones. Famous Christmas markets are those of Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein, though you can also come across several markets that are set up for only one or two days. You will for sure have the chance to experience how the Dutch enjoy spending those days.
Apart from the Christmas markets, the Dutch are known as the best traders in the world; therefore, sales begin during Christmas. If shopping is among your plans, then you will benefit from great discounts and the best seasonal gifts. You can shop in the city’s most well-known shopping centers or walk through Nine Streets (De Neigen Straatjes) and Kalverstraat, which are considered as the main places to visit for shopping.
Christmas carols are a tradition of the festive period. Amsterdam has a number of churches that are architecturally amazing and during the Christmas holidays invite people to sing carols, or just simply attend. It is a wonderful experience just attending these events in the majestic Dutch churches. Sint Nicolaaskerk and Vondelkerk are among those churches that will offer you the opportunity to be part of a unique experience.
If you decide to visit Amsterdam for Christmas, then you should not miss the New Year’s Party. The whole city becomes a wonderland as the Dutch sky is covered by amazing fireworks — a spectacle definitely not to miss! You can celebrate the New Year in the main square of the city, Dam Square, where each year concerts are held and both locals and tourists become one. You can also dance until the late hours — if you liking partying, then Amsterdam is the place to be.