Holiday season in Europe never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes, it feels like something out of a fairytale. Amsterdam is one of those beautiful 'fairytale' cities and the holiday season in and around the environs can be wonderful as it is beautiful and mostly 'White.' Talk about the beautiful houses covered in snow, Christmas markets, lighted and decorated streets as well as happy people having fun, throwing snowballs at each other and doing their Christmas shopping.
In most countries, the holiday season starts late December but in Amsterdam and other parts of the Netherlands, holiday season officially starts with the coming of Saint Nicholas to the Netherlands from Spain. This is commemorated on the 5th of December every year.
As soon as Saint Nicholas is welcomed into the Netherlands, families all over start to get into the Christmas mood. They start putting up decorations, doing their Christmas shopping and spreading Christmas cheer.
Families mostly spend the holiday season with each other. They bake the popular "Olibollen" and enjoy them in the company of loved ones and friends. The Dutch are known to refer to Christmas Day as "First Christmas Day" and Boxing Day as "Second Christmas Day."
There are also a few activities in the city to spice things up and make the holiday season one to always remember.
Christmas Village at Museum Square:
This beautiful Christmas Village is located on the Museumplein (museum square) district of Amsterdam. From December 17th till the 30th, this great location is used as a place where people can skate, eat local delicacies and enjoy the scenery. Figure skating is a very popular sport in the Netherlands and don't be shy to try out show your skills at the Christmas Village.
Amsterdam Light Festival:
The Amsterdam Light Festival is an event that provides international artists from different parts of the world with the platform to showcase their beautiful works of art. It also provides tourists with the opportunity to see these works of art via the walking route and the canals. Honestly, these works of art are best seen from the water, because many of the light art work is place above the canal and the river Amstel.
Christmas Market Haarlem:
Another city that throws a fun Christmas party in the form of a market is the neighbouring city of Haarlem. Haarlem is a beautiful Dutch city, old and beautiful and is definitely worth a visit. The Christmas Market here is filled with pomp and circumstance and is also huge. There are a 150 stalls located around the central Square called 'Grote Markt'. The Christmas Market is expected to start on the 10th of December and close on the 11th. Amsterdam is just 20 minutes away from Haarlem by train.
Winter Village in the town of Amstelveen:
Just 50 minutes away from Amsterdam by bus is the beautiful town of Amstelveen. This beautiful satellite town hosts its own Christmas Market from the 24th to the 26th of December. There is an outdoor terrace and ice rink for enthusiastic ice skaters and lots of stalls for the fanatic Christmas shoppers. It's always filled with colour, lights and fun.
New Year's Eve Party in Amsterdam:
Join the New Year's Eve celebrations in the streets of Amsterdam. A big ceremony that takes place on Amsterdam's Museum Square, featuring live performances from (mostly) Dutch bands. The ceremony officially starts at 18:00 and at exactly 00.00, the grand fireworks starts. The event is broadcasted live on national television for millions to watch. Everyone is invited as there are no entrance fees involved. It must also be noted that there are no fireworks allowed on the premises, no weapons of any kind and no glass bottles or items made of glass.
Celebrating New Year's Eve in Amsterdam or environs can be very memorable and Amsterdam as a city is always ready to make sure that visitors (domestic and international) have a wonderful time.