Even though visiting Amsterdam is always a good idea, Amsterdam during the Christmas period has something magic. All the streets and canals get lit up and there are also many Christmas Markets during the month of December, that make the atmosphere even more delightful.
All Amsterdam Christmas markets take place during the month of December: Sinterklaas Market, the Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt and Amsterdam Winter Paradise. The most popular one, Amsterdam Ice Village in Museumplein, starts on the 13th of December and it is open for 13 days, until the 26th of December.
During the cold months, Amsterdam becomes a winter wonderland, with lights all over the city, markets, outdoor activities and plenty of things to do. Dutch don’t let the weather keep them in, so they organise a lot of amazing events and fairs such as the Ice Village and the Sinterklaas market for both tourists and locals to enjoy.
When Does Amsterdam Christmas Market Start?
One of the best times of the year to visit Amsterdam is December. Even though the city of Amsterdam is really cold during the winter months, there are a lot of amazing activities for the whole family to enjoy outdoor. Among one of the best activities to do here, you can visit one of the Christmas markets that take place during this month, visit the Light Festival or enjoy the typical indoor attractions such as museums.
Even though there are several Christmas Markets in the capital of the Netherlands, the most popular and centric one is the Museumplein special market: Ice Village. But if you are into other things, such as art, indoor activities (because you are not too keen on being cold) or photography, you have several options.
All the Christmas Markets in Amsterdam take place during the month go December. Some of them are open on a daily basis, some of them once or twice a month, and some of them are open until the end of the winter holidays in January.
The biggest Christmas Markets in Amsterdam are:
- Sinterklaas Market or so-called Funky Christmas Market (open on Sunday the 1st of December and Sunday the 15th of December)
- Amsterdamsche Kerstmarkt (open on the 22nd and 23rd of December)
- Ice Village (open from the 13th of December until the 26th, included)
- Light Festival (available from the 28th of November until the 19th of January)
- Amsterdam Winter Paradise (event open from the 21st of December until the 30th of December)
Ice Village Amsterdam
So, what is typically Dutch for Christmas? Everything that you will be able to find in the Ice Village, a miniature Christmas town in the middle of Museumplein.
Ice Village is open from the 13th of December until the 26th:
- From the 13th until the 23rd the opening hours are from 11:00 until 20:00.
- On the 24th and 25th of December, the market opens at 11:00 and closes at 17:00.
- On the26th of December, from 11:00 until 20:00.
Ice Village counts with over 50 different stalls with all type of Christmas inspired items, from clothes to accessories, from food to drinks, as well as ice skating. The entrance to this market is completely FREE, and only for some activities, you will have to pay. There you will find:
- Food: cheese fondue and Dutch cheeses, soup, sandwiches, mulled wine, hot chocolate, Dutch beer and more
- Fire Pits
- Christmas decorations
- Christmas lights, of course.
- Winter clothes, accessories, scarfs and more.
- Ice Skating
Ice Skating is a must when it comes to winter for Dutch people. It is one of the favourite national sports and their pride. Ice Village Amsterdam counts with one of the most beautiful ice skating areas of the Netherlands: a typical Dutch bridge on top of an ice rink that faces the Rijksmuseum. A magical place to take photos and enjoy this famous sport.
The costs for ice skating in this rink is 13 euros per person, including renting the skates fro two hours (they have from size 28 to size 49). Important! You MUST wear gloves for safety reasons.
The Sinterklaas Market and Funky Christmas Markets are the two Christmas inspired events that take place in Westerfabriek instead of the normal Sunday market. Therefore, the first Xmas based market is the Sinterklaas Market, taking place on the first Sunday of December, the 1st of December. The second time is on the 15th of December, Funky Christmas Market.
In this market you will be able to find live music, stalls with different objects, local artists, funky decorations and some snack and food trucks to keep you going for the whole day.
- Entrance: free
- Location: Westergasfabriek 1041BE, Amsterdam
- Opening time: 12:00 – 18:00
- Information: link
On the 22nd and 23rd of December, the Amsterdamsche Kerstmarket (literally, the Christmas Market of Amsterdam) opens its doors.
This event has been taking place for two consecutive years, 2017 and 2018. Still waiting on some news for Xmas 2019, but on their Facebook page they will keep you posted. It is located in the Kromhouthal, the entrance is free, and you will be able to find a lot of original gifts, decorations, more music and, of course, food and drinks.
Amsterdam Winter Paradise
The Amsterdam Winter Paradise is an indoor winter fair located in the biggest congress hall and fair facility of Amsterdam, RAI.
Amsterdam Winter Paradise is a pop-up Christmas amusement park where you can go for performance, Christmas decorations, snow, trees, Christmas movies, songs, drinks, more ice skating, sledge riding and much much more. What you need to know:
- Dates: 21st of December until the 30th of December.
- Location: RAI Amsterdam
- Entrance: regular ticket for 17,50 euros for everybody (and a limited amount of tickets, available from November! here)
If you buy your tickets ONLINE these are the prices:
Entrance only: €5,00
Regular ticket: €17,50 (you don’t have to pay for most activities)
Children under the age of 3: free
Entrance ticket if you forgot to pre-buy it:
Entrance only: €7,50
Regular ticket: €19,50 (you don’t have to pay for most activities)
Children under the age of 3: free
Amsterdam Light Festival
Amsterdam’s Light Festival is one of the best reasons to come to Amsterdam during the cold months. In my opinion, it is an amazing and new way of discovering the city and its canals. Every year, different artists create light sculptures that are hanging in the middle of the water. It is an experience to be enjoyed either by foot or on one of the many cruises that are organise. Some of these excursions are:
- Boating: getting tickets for a boat tour with the most popular cruise companies of the city (tickets still unavailable).
- Walking: either on your own, following the apps created for the event or downloading a map; or with a walking tour, also organised by touristic agencies.
- Bike: renting your own or following also some tours organised with bikes.
Ice Skating in Amsterdam
When winter comes, around Christmas and New Years Eve, when temperatures drop below zero, Dutch go out with their skates to enjoy and make the best of the cold: ice skating on the frozen canals and lakes all over the country!
For a less risky experience, there are several ice rinks all over Amsterdam, open for locals and tourists to enjoy. You can bring your own skates or rent them there. Don’t forget your gloves, hats, and scarves, you will definitely need them. If you are not an expert, don’t worry because this is an activity for the whole family, with a lot of options for those who are still learning or even for first-timers. The most popular places in the capital of the Netherlands are:
- On the Ice Village you will be able to find the cutest ice rinks of Amsterdam. Besides being able to enjoy the big Christmas market built around the rink, you will have one of the best views ever: illuminated Rijksmuseum, a reproduction in miniature of a typical Dutch bridge, Christmas lights and more.
- Opens from 10-21 (Sun-Thu) / 10-22 (Fri Sat)
- It is outdoors.
- It is placed since the 16th of November (included) until the 2nd of February
- The entrance is 13 euros for 2 hours
- On Rembrandtplein, in the middle of the city, you will also be able to find an ice rink and a lot of little stalls all over it (including mulled wine, Dutch winter sweets such as poffertjes and oliebollen and more).
- Opens from 10:00 until 23:00 every day of the week.
- It is outdoors.
- It takes place between the 16th of November (included) until the 6th of January (incl.)
- The entrance is 5 euros for the whole day and renting skates 2,50 euros.
- Jaap Edenbaan’s ice rink is a facility named after the Dutch worlds champion ice skater and cycle racing.
- If you are looking for a typical Dutch experience this is the place to go, a gigantic ice rink (4oo meters!) constructed not just for fun but also for athletes who want to train to become professional on winter sports.
- It is both indoors and outdoors.
- The location is Amsterdam-Oost.
- Opens from 10:00 until 23:00
- The entrance costs 7,70 euros per adult and 4,70 per kid.
- It is open from October until March