From carol concerts to seascapes – 12 great things to do in December

Christmas is likely to be celebrated at home this year. Photo:

Is it ‘bah humbug’ for you in December or are you Christmas crackers? This month’s round-up of great things to has something for everyone.

See the mighty fall

The John Adams Institute invited Pulitzer price winning journalist Megan Twohey to  discuss her and fellow New York Times journalist Jodi Kantor’s book She Said which explores the sexual abuse that toppled Harvey Weinstein and the underlying mechanisms which made it possible in the first place. December 3. Website

See Sinterklaas!

Every year Sinterklaas is inundated with invitations to stay, from palaces to humble shacks. This year he has chosen to honour the Gouda Museum with his presence and children of all ages are welcome to pay him a visit. He is a busy man in December so there are just two opportunities to see him in his study. Until December 4.  Website

Embrace variety

The International Queer and Migrant Festival in Amsterdam is celebrating its first five years with an extensive offering of documentaries, shorts and features documenting the hardships and hopes of the LGTBQ community in different parts of the world. There are talks, workshops and performances but also plenty of opportunities to party. December 4-8. Website

Photo: Zandvoort Museum

See Sissi in Zandvoort

In 1884 the empress Elizabeth, otherwise known as Sissi, travelled to the Netherlands to consult a doctor to cure her sciatica. He must have done something right because she then went on to Zandvoort for a bracing walk on the sands and a restful stay at the luxurious Hotel Von Kaufmann.

She either had another sciatica flare-up or simply liked Zandvoort so much she came back the following year. Sissi in Zandvoort chronicles her life and visits, and there are lots of photographs of Zandvoort when it was still a simple fishing village. With a great big hotel for the rich. Until March 1. Website

Take a dip in history

The Westfries Museum in Hoorn dived into the collection of the Rijksmuseum to come up with armfuls of dripping seascapes for an exhibition called Koele Wateren (cool waters) depicting the Netherlands’ stormy relationship with the sea. The museum has gone for lesser known works by Jan van Goyen, Hendrik Willem Mesdag, Jacob Maris, Salomon van Ruysdael and Isaac Israël spanning the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

It’s not all battles, trade and genteel ladies on donkeys because the museum is also contemplating the country’s future and what the Netherland could look like in 200 years, if not completely sunk beneath the waves by then, that is. Until February 16. Website

Dig Dickens

The Muiderslot in Muiden and the Theater aan het Spui in The Hague are the two venues for this year’s performance of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Ashley Ramsden dons the old misery’s sleeping cap for the 14th year running in this one-man show. December 17,18.20.21 and 22. Website

Fill the halls

Tis the season to freeze your bum off listening to a Christmas concert in a very cold church. Arm yourself with a cushion and a snifter and the music will do the rest. This website has a comprehensive list of concerts throughout the land. And if you can’t wait to have your fill of festive bits and bobs, there is plenty of opportunity to do that too one of the many Christmas markets and other events for instance in Eindhoven, The Hague and Amsterdam.

Mourn a moggy

Just the ticket for the dark days of December: an exhibition about the rituals surrounding an animal death in the family at Funeral Museum Tot Zover in Amsterdam. De Laatste Aai (the final caress) is a series of photographs of beloved animals that have died exhibited at the museum’s ‘animal heaven’.

The museum is inviting grieving owners to contribute photographs of their departed pets so bring hankies because you are bound to bump into a mourner or two. Until January 19. Website

Wrap up warm

The Dutch obsession with the weather has been given its very own exhibition in the Singer Laren museum, from jolly skating scenes by Hendrick Avercamp to a forbidding icescape by contemporary artist Robert Zandvliet.

Over 100 works by such Dutch artists as Piet Mondriaan, George Hendrik Breitner, Jan van Goyen and Carel Willink are demonstrating the dramatic possibilities of weather good and bad. A chat about the weather with a fellow visitor is compulsory. Weer en Wind (All weathers) is on until January 5. Website

Big Bang by UxU Studio. Photo: Janus van der Eijnden

See the light

The theme of this year’s Amsterdam Light Festival is ‘Disrupt!’ It’s slightly ironical that some of the admittedly spectacular installations are meant to draw attention to the fact that the earth is in danger. There are twenty works of art in total and plenty of ways to take them all in, from a boat tour to making your own way on foot. Until January 19. Website

Say who?

If you’re quick you and your offspring can just bag the nocturnal owl walk organised by Natuurmonumenten. The noisiest child fall ssilent when ears have to be strained to catch the plaintive ‘who?’ as male owls court prospective mates. Catch the owl calls at the Nationaal Park Veluwezoom on December 21. Website

Have a blow out in Rotterdam

Organised firework displays are becoming more popular but Rotterdam still steals the crown. The Erasmusbrug is the backdrop to a spectacular show on the stroke of midnight and there is lots of clubbing besides. Happy New Year! December 31 (but you knew that) Website

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