Deck the halls with boughs of holly, falalala lalalala etc. With the Christmas break around the corner, and Sinterklaas about to scale the roofs, here are some ho-ho-ho holiday outings for young and old.
Bring on the ghosts of Christmases past
First of all there’s A Christmas Carol, Dickens’s timeless tale of greed and regret which is so much more enjoyable before Scrooge turns from unparallelled grump into unctuous uncle. But it’s the journey that matters and The Orange Theatre Company in Amsterdam is giving us a jolly ride. December 1-3. Website
Have an audience with Sinterklaas
It cannot have escaped your attention that Sinterklaas is here again, although you might be forgiven for thinking he never went away since we have all been popping pepernoten since August at least. There is lots of fun for little believers and big pretenders alike, for instance at the Muiderslot where the Sint will take up residence on December 2 and 3. There will be Pieten, pepernoten baking classes and a chat with the man himself.
He is also simultaneously and miraculously present in the City of Sinterklaas at the Archeon Museum in Alphen aan de Rijn where children can have a go at getting their Piet diploma by doing Piet things, like climbing and being smarter than Sinterklaas.
The Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen welcomes children to their Piet village on December 3, which can be reached by boat, and where there is actually a quiet slot for children who are sensitive to outside stimuli.
See the children play at Panorama Mesdag
The Panorama Mesdag museum in Scheveningen is highlighting the painters of the The Hague School of realist painters (1860-1900), and their depiction of children. There is a particularly affecting painting of a crippled girl selling matches by Floris Arntzenius, her angry scowl miles away from Victorian sentimentalism. The Children of the The Hague School shows rich children at their privileged pursuits, poor children at work and both rich and poor at play. From December 16. Website
Put your Santa improv hat on
More festive cheer, or not, in reality show OMG! I Can’t Even! at Mike’s Badhuis Theatre in Amsterdam, in which eight people adore Christmas and hate everyone who doesn’t. At least that’s the idea. But absolutely nothing is scripted, so anything could happen and you can have a say as well. December 16. Website
Ask: who the Dickens are you?
There’s more Dickens to enjoy at the Dickens Festijn in Deventer where you will probably bump into Scrooge, Mr Micawber, the Squeers family, Uriah Heep and many of other characters he created. The city centre will be awash with people dressed up in Victorian gear and visitors trying to guess who the Dickens they’re all meant to be. December 16 and 17. Website
Dance with the daffodils
Perhaps seasonal in its own way, Dancing with Daffodils, presented by Strike Me Pink Productions at the Amsterdams Theaterhuis, is about finding oneself alone and at a crossroads. Written by Ralph Remers, the play is about a closeted gay man, who is trying to find out where the death of his wife leaves him. Who is he really and is a solitary existence really what he wants? December 14-17 Website
Let it snow
As if Deventer itself isn’t picturesque enough, its very nice Toy Museum is taking it to another level. Winter Wonderland is all about wintry traditions all covered in a lovely blanket of snow. Such Dutch pastimes as skating and sledging, complete with attributes and beautiful illustrations, are on show, and centuries-old celebrations, such as Sint-Maarten and Sinterklaas, are explained. Until February 29. Website
Komt het zien!
The annual Christmas circus at the Carré theatre in Amsterdam is another popular family outing, with outrageous acrobatic feats and other daredevil acts that have dropped jaws across Europe. World-renowned clowns Bello Nock and Yann Rossi will also be there but the days that people living near the theatre could hear the lions roar are welll and truly over. December 20 – January 7. Website
Celebrate Christmas with a cocktail or two
Boom Chigago in Amsterdam is organising its own Christmas party at the pop-up cocktail bar where once again you can enter the ugliest Christmas sweater competition, have a weirdly named drink and see a show. Dress up or down, the organisers say, but “this is still Holland and you know some people won’t make an effort”. Dutchies, prove them wrong. Until December 27. Website
Follow the roots
If you have read Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake about the fungal network without which this planet would fall apart, you will like Farming Textiles, an exhibition of forty botanical installations at the Kranenburgh museum in Bergen made by German artist Diana Scherer.
Taking advice from scientists, Scherer learned to create root systems which grow according to the patterns she designed while always taking on the textures dictated by their natural properties, from tiny fragile growths to a huge skeined textile of robust roots. Until March 10. Website
See how the aristocracy lived, in miniature
The Hague, as you can tell from some of its posh houses, used to be home to quite a few members of the Dutch (minor) nobility. One of them, a Jonkvrouw (lady) Lita de Ranitz, had a miniature villa built for her in 1910. It had electricity, hot and cold running water, central heating and even a new-fangled vacuum cleaner for the maid.
She went completely bonkers over every detail, traveling all over Europe to find miniature furniture and fittings for the house. She also collected miniature paintings by artists including Anton Mauve and Johan Barthold Jongkind. The result is now on show at the The Hague Historisch Museum. Until September 24, 2024. Website
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