With its toytown architecture frosted up like Christmas cake, and atmospheric waterways atwinkle in the soft glow of fairy lights, Christmas in Amsterdam is always a bit magical. Sweet smells of freshly baked goodies waft warmly on the nippy air, cyclists quickly learn the merits of mittens, and true to form, there is something quirky and fun happening on every corner in the Dutch capital. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy Christmas in Amsterdam 2021
The Amsterdam Light Festival
Arguably the highlight of the city’s festive calendar is the spectacular Amsterdam Light Festival. This one-of-a-kind festival turns the city’s sleepy canal ring into a glittering canvas of light and art. Each year, 30 dazzling thematic light sculptures designed by Dutch and international artists are dotted around the canals and bridges, sending bright colours cascading across the water, and creating a truly enchanting ambience throughout the city.
This year will be the 10th anniversary of the Amsterdam Light Festival, and to mark the occasion, this year the festival will be a. retrospective ‘greatest hits’ edition, where the most popular and head-turning sculptures from the past decade will be displayed once again. So if you’ve missed any previous editions of the ALF, now is the time to put that right!
The best way to savour the sparkling spectacle is aboard an evening canal cruise. You’ll float through tunnels of shimmering light and sail by mesmerising art installations. If this doesn’t kickstart your holiday spirit, you may need to schedule an appointment with a triplet of time-travelling Christmas ghosts…
Failing that, a foolproof way to un-Scrooge yourself for Christmas in Amsterdam 2021, is a spot of ice-skating outside the magnificent Rijksmuseum. With cheesy Christmas classics belting out across the ice, every graceful pirouette and wobbly ‘meant-to-do-that‘ skid will feel all the more memorable under the gaze of the museum’s fairy-tale facade.
Ice skates are available to rent onsite, so there’s no need to bring your own, although it’s also perfectly fine if you prefer to. To ensure a safe experience and enjoyable atmosphere for everyone, this year, it will be necessary to present a personal QR code to verify proof of vaccination against COVID-19. Gloves are also sttrognly advised!
Christmas Markets in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is very much a market city. There are dozens of weekly outdoor markets around the city throughout the year, so it’s little surprise that when the festive season rolls around, there’s no shortage of incredible Christmas markets in Amsterdam to enjoy too. There’s the Funky Christmas Market which takes the place of the monthly market at the Westergasfabriek area beside the city’s beautiful Westerpark.
For a slightly more neon-lit festive extravaganza, head over to the RAI Amsterdam convention centre, where the Amsterdam Winter Paradise will be held. Somehwere between a Christmas market and a festive fun fair, there’s indoor and outdoor ice-skating rinks, seasonal dance parties, festive food galore, and a gigantic Ferris wheel!
Continuing the Christmas carnival theme is the Museumplein Ice Village. Imagine a Christmas market and adjust your colour settings to rainbow mode! Amsterdam’s famous museum square transforms into a wintery wonderland of multicoloured lights, festive food trucks, mulled wine, craft beer, handmade Christmas gifts & clothing, and one big party atmosphere.
If you’re planning to enjoy Christmas in Amsterdam 2021, definitely make sure you check out Museumplein Ice Village. you might even manage to squeeze in a fix of culture, with Golden Age masterpieces, and modern art marvels a stone’s throw away. if that’s not enough to get you singing Jingle Bells at the top of your lungs, then you may want to head across the street to the world-renowned Concertgebouw for something very special.
Christmas Carol Concert at Concertgebouw
Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw is considered by those in the know to be among the top five concert halls in the world. Architecturally breathtaking and acoustically mind-blowing, the Concertgebouw plays host to some of the most spellbinding orchestral music, as well as astonishing jazz, chamber, pop, and world music concerts throughout the year.
The Christmas season squeezes every drop of magic out of this incredible venue, with hauntingly beautiful Christmas concerts that fills the world-class auditorium with ethereal choral music and jolly holiday carols. This year’s concert will take place on the 22nd of December and promises to be nothing short of incredible.
The theme this year is Christmas Classics at the Movies, where Presenter Gregor Bak and the North West German Philharmonic orchestra will bring Tchaikovsky’s ballets and the compelling soundtracks of A Christmas Carol, ET and Ben Hur, to stunning harmonious life.
With all of your canal light-seeing, ice-skating, market-hopping, and carolling out of the way, there’s only one more thing you need to get the Amsterdam festive fever in full swing…
You know it’s party season in the Netherlands when festive-themed pop-up foodtrucks seem to spontaneously appear on every bridge and street corner around the country. Peddling all manner of freshly baked waffles, pastries, and sweets, you might feel spoiled for choice when you rock up to sample the goods at a Hollandse bakerij. However, there’s really only one sensible decision to be made when your sweet tooth needs a fix in the Dutch winter. I give you, the humble olieboll.
If you’re not familiar with oliebollen, you have some catching up to do! These little balls of sugary, doughy goodness are the Dutch take on a doughnut, and they will spoil you for all other doughnuts! A quintessential part of Christmas in Amsterdam, oliebollen come in lots of flavour varieties, with chocolate, raisin, and apple all popular options. For the purist though, a regular oliebol au natural generously dusted with powdered sugar is the superior experience.