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 just some of the best things to do in Amsterdam this Christmas.

The Amsterdam Light Festival

Arguably the highlight of the city’s festive calendar is the spectacular Amsterdam Light Festival. Now in its seventh edition, 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 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.

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…

Rijks-Skating 

Failing that, a foolproof way to un-Scrooge yourself and recapture that childlike Christmas cheer, 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. It’s impossible not feel the festive fever all around, because you’ll be smack-bang in the middle of…

Museumplein Ice Village

Imagine a Christmas market and adjust your colour settings to rainbow mode! Between the 14th and the 26th of December, 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 in Amsterdam this Christmas,  definitely make sure you check out Museumplein. 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 a hauntingly beautiful Christmas Carol Concert that fills the world-class auditorium with ethereal choral music and jolly holiday carols. This year’s concert will take place on the 9th of December and promises to be nothing short of incredible. 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…

Oliebollen!

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 the runup to Christmas and New Years 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.

Tiqets wishes our readers in Amsterdam and around the world a Merry Christmas, and we hope to share some more awesome culture with you in 2019. Keep an eye on the blog for more travel tips and inspiration.

Oscar O'Connor

Oscar O'Connor

Oscar is an Irish copywriter who likes to wax philosophical about music, culture, and all things football. His natural habitats include beer gardens, parks, cafes, and snackbars around his beloved Amsterdam.
Oscar O'Connor