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Amsterdam throws itself into the spirit of Christmas in great style. There is no main Christmas market, but many of the city’s squares transform into Christmas markets packed with stalls selling food, mulled wine and seasonal gifts.

Christmas celebrations start early in Holland as the Dutch day for gift-giving isn't Christmas day, it's the 5th December. Sinterklaas (St Nicholas), brings children their presents on the 5th of December, which is the eve of St Nicholas's day.  

Best places to soak up the Christmas spirit

    • Rembrandtplein

      Stop to take a selfie with one of the life-sized statues of the Night Watch as you browse the stalls around this atmospheric market.

      There are lots of restaurants and bars around the square, so it’s a good place to end a day of Christmas shopping and start your evening.

    • Museumplein

      Every year the Ice Village sets up on this square in the Museum Quarter from the 20th – 30th of December. Over 50 local and international stalls await you, selling gifts, food and drink.

      From the 20th November -4th of February, the massive basin of the Museumplein fountain is turned into a very popular ice skating rink, surrounded by museums and drawing thousands of visitors every year.

    • Leidseplein

      This is the place to go for ice skating and eating. Take to the ice to practice your figures of eight, then warm up with a mulled wine and some olibollen, delicious little deep-fried dumplings.

      The market opens in early November, getting progressively more Christmassy in December.

    • Dam Square

      The massive 20 ft Christmas tree in front of the Royal Palace is well worth a trip. Decorated with 40,000 bulbs, it’s a magical sight to get you into the festive mood. And don’t worry, the bulbs are all energy efficient LEDs so the environmental impact is minimal.

Christmas food

Everybody needs a bit of a sugar boost when they’ve been shopping, visiting museums, ice skating and sightseeing all day. Don't worry, there's no shortage of sugary snacks at Christmas time in Amsterdam. Try traditional New Year treat, oliballen (deep-fried dough balls) or appelbeignets (deep-fried apple fritters) to warm you up.

You’ll also find chocolate letters (great for stocking fillers), pepernoten (square biscuits flavoured with aniseed, cinnamon or clove) and speculaas (spiced biscuits), traditionally eaten for Sinterklaas (St Nicholas’ day).

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