Great things to do in the Netherlands over the Christmas break

The National Ballet is performing Coppelia. Photo: Angela Sterling
The National Ballet is performing Coppelia. Photo: Angela Sterling

Christmas lights, winter circuses, shopping for that perfect present and seasonal theatre – there is a lot on in the Netherlands for the festive season. Esther O’Toole has a few suggestions.


Winter Parade
A massive hit over the last few years this dinner and theatre event provides an unusual alternative to your usual Christmas fare. Waiter and entertainers use the table as a stage and perform both theatrical and culinary wonders for your delight. Kid friendly (adult supervision needed, reduced dinner prices for youngsters). Website

Coppelia is one of the traditional Christmas ballets but this version promises to be anything but traditional. With funky, brightly coloured design and choreography from Ted Brandsen it’s suitable for all ages 4 and up. Website

Jaap Eden skating courses
If you, or your kids, can’t stand being cooped up indoors throughout the school holidays, you might want to take advantage of the week long skating courses on offer at the Jaap Eden rink. You can follow a course of two hours a day that is guaranteed to improve your moves on the ice. Website

The Hague

christmas carol

English theatre
The English Language Theatre of the Hague has been going for over 10 years now an it’s Christmas production of A Christmas Carol has become an annual tradition. It’s so popular that tickets for the first shows are already sold out. But, hoorah, extra performances have been laid on for 19th and 20th December in the Hague. Website

Christmas at Duivenvoorde Castle
It’s a castle, it’s Christmas – the two together spell magic. Take a guided tour or shop at the Christmas market in the grounds. Website

TINK Amazing Shop Windows
Still got some Christmas shopping to catch up on? Tink are running a spectacular competition around the theme of A Royal Winter. 75 competing shops will kit out their windows in style. You can walk the route while grabbing some bargains, and win festive prizes by voting for your favourites. Website


University Museum Utrecht
Hands-on and affordable, Utrecht University’s Museum has interesting scientific fun for all the family. Whether they’re interested in plants (the Oude Hortus) physics (they have their own particle accelerator) or experimenting (Youthlab) there are multiple activities that run alongside their regular exhibitions. Website

The Dom Tower
History buffs and art lovers are able to enjoy a guided tour up the tallest church tower in the country; which will be specially lit through December by London light-art collective Speirs + Major, as part of the Trajectum Lumen city tour. Website

carre christmas circus

Christmas Circus
All around the country at this time of year, the circus descends. One of the biggest, Het Winter Circus, this year visits Utrecht, The Hague, Amsterdam and Maastricht. It promises a spectacular show including motor stunts, clowns and…cows! Website


Silent Night Indie Pop Festival
Spread across four locations in the city (and also heading to Lelystad) indie pop-fest, Het Stille Nacht, showcases the best international singer songwriter, americana, and indie-pop talent. Website

MiniWorld Rotterdam
Mini people, like mini things. If you’ve been to Madurodam then this promises to be the is funkier, modern version; showing you Rotterdam ‘in het klein’. Comes complete with moving trains to carry the 27,000 residents around and, at Christmas, the city in miniature will be as twinkly as the real thing. Website

The National Fireworks Festival
The biggest New Year fireworks in the country will once again take place in Rotterdam. It’s free to go and watch things explode to the sound of thousands of awestruck onlookers, and should be better than ever this year as it is the 10th edition. Website


ESA – Noordwijk
You always wanted to be an astronaut didn’t you? Well for big kids and small (or those who have had a bauble overdose already) why not head over to Noordwijk and explore the European Space Agency’s permanent exhibition? Andre Kuijpers original Soyez capsule is now part what’s on display. Website

Cool Event – Scheveningen

Ice on the beach! PHoto: Berlinda van Dam / Hollandse Hoogte
Ice on the beach! Photo: Berlinda van Dam / Hollandse Hoogte

Cool Event sees the Scheveningen seaside transformed into a veritable winter wonderland. Including a 600 sq metre ice rink, ice sculpture display and a Palace Fun Slide on the boulevard which takes 20 minutes top to bottom! Website

Santa runs
What seems to have first started as a radio station promo a few years ago in Rotterdam has turned into a bit of a phenomenon. Now, up and down the country you can watch masses of Santas run through the streets in the name of charity, or join in yourself with family, friends or colleagues. (16 Dec) (17 Dec)

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