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Things to do in the Dutch Winter Wonder Land

Many people make trips abroad during the holidays to get into the real ‘Christmas spirit’. All too often, people choose to go to the German Christmas markets or to big European cities like Paris and London for their festivities. But, isn’t it nicer to get that Christmassy feeling without multiple hours of travelling and paying too much for accommodation? That’s why we give you this list of 8 different things you can do in the Netherlands during the holiday season. See this as our present to you!

Arts & Culture

Are you that kind of person that goes to museums voluntarily, and actually enjoys them? If so, there are innumerable cool expositions and shows on display close to your home. Kunsthal Rotterdam (Westzeedijk 341) currently has some interesting exhibitions, such as ‘Keith Haring – The Political Line’, about the life and works of this influential artist. Haring’s

'Keith Haring - The Political Line'. Source: http://www.cityzapper.nl/nieuws/ keith-haring-expositie-rotterdam

‘Keith Haring – The Political Line’. Source: http://www.cityzapper.nl/nieuws/
keith-haring-expositie-rotterdam

often colourful ‘pop-graffiti aesthetic’ artworks are inspired by political and social issues of his time. For €6, you get to walk around and look at the 120 paintings and sculptures and even get to experience art in the dark in the glow in the dark hallway!

 

 

The also Rotterdam-based Dutch Photography museum (Wilhelminakade 332) is open for almost the full Christmas break as well, and for only €5 there are currently four different exhibitions on display. People into fashion can count themselves lucky, because the exhibition ‘Horst P. Horst – Photographer of Style’ features iconic fashion photos of the 20th century and ‘Photo to Fashion’ is a project in which designer Mattijs van Bergen has created a fashion collection in which he incorporated beautiful photographs into his dresses and other designs.

Fairs & Markets

If you would rather look at things you can actually afford, it’s probably a better idea to visit one of the following places. The Netherlands has plenty of cosy city-centres where you can window-shop at Christmas time, but even better is that they have markets and fairs! Leiden, which is only 30 minutes by train from Central station (€7,20 one-way), has transformed its city centre for the whole of December into a Winter Wonderland. This includes an ice-skating rink, fun attractions, and a Christmas market that will be floating on the canals from the 11th to the 20th. Another “gezellige” city which is definitely worth the 2.5 hour trip is Maastricht. The beautiful historic city centre is a great place to just walk around and enjoy the Christmas decorations. Till January 3rd, there are also lots of activities, theatre and music in the city and especially on 11 till 13 December there are music performances from amazing artists all over town. What’s also good to know, is that the NS webshop (which is www.spoordeelwinkel.nl) offers return train tickets for Maastricht till January 3rd for only €20, saving you more than 30 euros that you can then spend on Christmas shopping!

'Magical Maastricht'

‘Magical Maastricht’. Source: www.vvvmaastricht.nl/ nieuwsbrieven/157.html

 

A lesser-known event that’s also worth mentioning is the Dickens-festival in Deventer, one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands which is about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Rotterdam (20 euros one-way). At this festival, you time-travel two centuries into the past with Dickens’ most famous characters, traditional foods and beautiful decorations. The festival on the 19th and 20th of December is completely free, and if you’re able to make your visit a bit longer, it’s hilarious to watch the Santa Run on the 18th of December right in Deventer’s city centre (or even participate!).

Music & Activities

Finally, the last month of the year is also a great time to get a bit more active. And who said the Netherlands is too flat for skiing? In Zoetermeer, only 40 minutes from Rotterdam (€6,70 one-way train fare), there’s an indoor SnowWorld for you to practice your skiing, snowboarding and après-ski skills. From ski suits to boots, you can rent any part of the gear that you might need. If you go on a weekday before the 19th and you show your student card, you only pay €21,95 for 4 whole hours of skiing.

 

If you’re less into those kinds of activities, you might be more enthusiastic about these last two tips. You might have heard, but there’s this weird ‘glass house’ that appears in a different Dutch city every December. This is actually the charity event ‘Serious Request’ of radio station 3FM, where three DJ’s lock themselves up and play music 24/7 from December 18th to 24th. By doing this, they try to raise money for a certain goal, this year to support the children living in conflict areas. Visiting the ‘glass house’ is a lot of fun, as it’s surrounded by people day and night, you can listen to and see the DJ’s do their live radio shows and on the last day there’s a free live concert where big Dutch artists perform. In the true Christmas spirit, you can donate money by requesting a song or putting it in the mailbox at the house. This year it’s in Heerlen, so if you decided you wanted to check out Maastricht already it’s only a 20-minute train ride!

Serious Request 2014. Source: ANP

Serious Request 2014. Source: ANP

Finally, for the inner child and romantic in all of us, December is the perfect time to go to the Dutch version of Disneyland; the Efteling. Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Puss in Boots and other fairy tales come together in this huge theme park in the south of the Netherlands. It has thrilling rollercoasters, serene rides through stunning scenery and special winter attractions including a cross-country skiing trail. Online tickets are 34 euros, but it’s smart to look out for discounts before you start booking. If you take the train to Tilburg and hop on a bus that goes directly to the entrance, it will only take you 1 hour and 20 minutes (€15 euros in total)!

Now go and enjoy all that the Netherlands has to offer in the  “gezelligste” month of the year!

 

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