Christmas is coming, and here’s some special events to get you in the mood

Christmas is coming, and here’s some special events to get you in the mood

The festive season is almost upon us, and whether you're looking for cosy, cultural or culinary, we have Christmas holiday highlights to suit one and all. Amsterdam Amsterdam Light Festival If you're in the capital during the holidays, make sure to give yourself time to tour the canals and take in the many exhibits of this year's Amsterdam Light Festival. Special highlights include light artworks inspired by Van Gogh's Starry Night and, for the first time, a specially commissioned theatre piece during a canal cruise of the festival sites - The Light Code by Chris Bajema. The festival runs all the way through December and into January. Website  Eye Film museum Too cold outside? Then head over to the EYE in Noord. Escape the wind, and the general state of the world, with the joy of the upbeat 50's classic White Christmas, or a screening of the Royal Opera House's (UK) spectacular version of The Nutcracker (2015), complete with sparkling prosecco.  Website Utrecht Nijntje museum For the littlest in the family you could head to the Nijntje Museum in Utrecht, where the country's favourite bunny is exploring everything wintry throughout December. There are light-games to play and life size snowman puzzles to be built, strap on skis or go on a sleigh-ride with Nijntje herself. Website Kerstival While you're in Utrecht you could also head to Kerstival at The St Catherine Convent, between 22 Dec and 6th January, if you're after a nice hands-on way to explore a more traditional side of Christmas. The museum will be transformed both inside and out and offers an all-inclusive ticket for arts & crafts, magic lantern shows, cookie making, magic swings that produce 'snow' and much more! Website (Dutch only) Rotterdam Concerts and dancing If you're looking for music and/or romance, Rotterdam may be the place for you. There are a wealth of Christmas concerts on throughout the city in December whether you're looking for classical or organ, party favourites or 50s hits (see the uitagenda for a full list, Dutch only). A personal favourite is V11 - a bright red ship in the centre of town, with a great bar on the upper deck and dancing downstairs in the belly of the boat. Various live acts are on all through December. Website For classical music lovers, the Laurenskerk has an interesting programme of classical and Christmassy favourites, like Handel's Messiah, alongside a specially composed Rotterdamse Passion on Dec 14th. Website (Dutch only). IJsvrij Festival Going all out for a romantic weekend away over the festive holidays? Then why not take your loved one icy skating at the Ijsvrij Park Festival next to the Euromast? Often compared to NYC's central park ice rink, the festival boasts not only a romantic atmosphere but a great cafe/bar, sports, theatre and music. Then head up the Euromast itself to warm up, get a great view over the city at night, and enjoy one of their special holiday menus in the restaurant or a stay in one of their quirky hotel rooms. Website Elsewhere  Groningen: the Winterwelvaart If you want to visit the cold north this year, then our best bet would be head to Groningen! During the Winterwelvaart (21st - 23rd December) all the traditional ships in the city centre harbour are lit up like Christmas trees, and there is a full-on programme of mini concerts, theatre performances and dining on board, plus boat tours, an art route and a winter market. You can even arrange to stay overnight on one of the boats. Website (Dutch only) The Hague: Royal Christmas Market Christmas markets are popular up and down the country at this time of year. Like their German counterparts you can anticipate plenty of mulled wine, hot chocolate and gingerbread, plus artisanal crafts, trinkets, toys and jewellery for under the tree. One of the most extravagant is the Royal Christmas Market in The Hague (14th - 23rd December). Located on the Lange Voorhout in the city centre, it boasts hundreds of stalls, plus storytelling, theatre and caroling to balance out any frenzied shopping. You´ll find other markets in Lelystad, Amstelveen, the pretty little village of Vreeland and a funky one in the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam to name but a few. Website Breda: The Avenue, Christmas Dinner Circus Circuses are a big tradition in The Netherlands at this time of year, and Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam always have large, spectacular and often international circus on. Putting a twist on that traditional Christmas show though is The Avenue in Breda. A small theatre and events location, they specialise in cabaret, circus and various other sorts of dinner shows. Throughout December, starting on the 14th, they have a series of special festively themed dinner shows, suitable for anyone hungry for a truly alternative Christmas dinner. 8+ Website (Dutch only. Note: limited accessibility to some parts of the venue). For more December events, see our regular Whats On listing: 11 great things to do in December.  More >

Podcast: The Commercial Breakdown Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Commercial Breakdown Edition – Week 50 Our last podcast of the year features a helter-skelter game of red cards, own goals and penalties that ultimately changed nothing, while away from the Brexit negotiations Ajax qualified for the next round of the Champions League. We ask why girls are more likely to move up the educational ladder then boys, whether stints will ever be allowed back on cycle paths and why a group of Chinese villagers were told to Buddha off by a Dutch court. In the discussion we look at the catchiest – and the most irritating – adverts in the Netherlands and how they have affected cultural life. TOP STORY Rutte has May for breakfast as EU rules out reopening Brexit deal MPs denounce no-deal emergency powers bill as undemocratic NEWS Electric 'stint' wagons still not allowed back on cycle paths Girls more likely than boys to move up secondary school ladder Dutch court throws out Chinese villagers' claim on Buddha statue Boyan Slat says ocean clean-up plan is still on despite...  More >

Celebrate in your home from home: How to go Dutch at Christmas

Celebrate in your home from home: How to go Dutch at Christmas The count down to Christmas has begun, but according to weather forecast there's not much chance of a white Christmas this year. So just how do you give your Christmas that extra touch of 'Dutchness' while living in the Netherlands? Here is a list to inspire you, based on some of the ways the Dutch celebrate Christmas at home. Get a tree The Dutch love their trees - in fact they love Christmas decorations in general. If you really want to be overwhelmed, check out any garden centre and you will be spoiled, and we do mean spoiled, for choice. Christmas lights tend to be terribly good taste which can come as a shock to the Americans and the British. Give your new home a festive feel with a beautiful paper star in the window. Go to church The Nachtmis is the only time lots of people go to church. The midnight mass is usually a jolly affair of Christmas carols and lots of twinkling lights in a heated church (if you’re lucky) followed by a Christmas breakfast with lots of kerststol....  More >

12 Dutch ads everyone should know

12 Dutch ads that have become cultural touchstones Keep Calm and Carry On? Lovely Day for a Guinness? Just do it? Good advertising can do more than sell shoes and beer, they can become cultural touchstones, referenced over and over again, years after they first appeared. So, if a colleague shouts 'Heyyyy biertje…' during a borrel and everyone else laughs but you’re left out in the cold, we’ve got you covered. Molly Quell has put together a list of 12 Dutch advertisements that you need to know. 1 Heineken - Rudi Possibly the most famous television ad in the country, we follow a lowly goat herder who turns into a suave ski instructor with the appearance of the first snowflake. He walks into a ski lodge bar and shouts “Heyyyyy biertje!” (Hey beer) to the delight of the crowd. While popular with most Dutch people, bar staff find having “Heyyyyy biertje!” shouted at them rather annoying. 2 Ohra - Purple crocodile Ohra's purple crocodile, which hit the television screens in 2005, has now become synonymous with...  More >

Dutch Destinations: explore Utrecht

Dutch Destinations: explore Utrecht from high up and from way down destinations: Utrecht  Located on the eastern edge of the Randstad, Utrecht is a picturesque city full of history and culture - if you avoid the hideous concrete area around the main railway station - that is. From the top of Dom Tower all the way down to its iconic canals, there’s no shortage of cafes, museums, and other attractions to keep you busy for a weekend trip or an entire lifetime. Human activity in and around Utrecht dates all the way back to the Stone Age, but the area remained almost entirely untamed until the Romans showed up to build a fortress named Traiectum around 50 AD. It helped mark their empire’s northernmost border...until it was burnt to the ground during a revolt a few decades later. Then it was later rebuilt bigger and stronger to house roughly 500 soldiers. Traiectum actually had to be rebuilt three more times before it was finally raided by invading Franks sometime in the 3rd century. The Romans skedaddled and the area remained pretty...  More >

Collective health insurance can be costly

Health insurance via your employer? You could be paying too much The chances are that your health insurance policy is part of a collective plan which you signed up to via work, a sports club or even your local council. But you could very well be paying more than you should. Almost two-thirds of the Dutch population are insured through a collective plan - a type of insurance scheme set up for a group of people, such as company colleagues, a patient organisation or a local authority. Even nature protection groups like the Wadden Vereniging offer special health policies for members. If you sign up for a collective agreement you are offered a seemingly attractive discount on your monthly health insurance premium. But beware! Research by comparison website shows that you could actually be paying for the discount out of your own pocket. Spokesman Koen Kuijper says there are numerous cases where an individual insurance plan is cheaper than one that is set up through a collective. 'There are over 50,000 different collective policies...  More >

Podcast: The Soros Eye Shadow Edition

DutchNews podcast – The George Soros Eye Shadow Palettes Edition – Week 49 As a round-the-clock deportation-busting church service draws the attention of the world's media, Amsterdam calls time on the giant letters outside the Rijksmuseum, Dick Advocaat causes some ophef when he gets a time out in the referee's room and Emile Ratelband is told he can't turn the clock back on his passport. We also discuss why the Marrakesh pact to control migration has sparked a heated debate both in the Tweede Kamer and internationally. Ophef of the week: Intratuin's packaged pine cones create needle on Twitter TOP STORY Non-stop church service stops government deporting Armenian family NEWS Government aims to cut number of road deaths to zero by 2030 Shell to link executive bonuses to carbon emissions targets Giant Iamsterdam letters removed from city's Museumplein Emile Ratelband loses fight to cut 20 years from his age SPORT Oranje draw Germany in European Championship qualifiers DISCUSSION: Marrakech migration pact Dutch Parliament...  More >

'Dutch people don't like long silences'

‘Dutch people don’t like long silences but in Sweden we can live with them’ Helena van Heel is a Swedish mezzo soprano who moved to the Netherlands 25 years ago. She lives in Amsterdam Noord with her Dutch husband and daughter, recommends you visit the 11 Fountain tour in Friesland and sneaks off to Ikea when she gets homesick. How did you end up in the Netherlands? I met a Dutchman in Stockholm, he was playing in an orchestra and it was love at first sight. The first time I had visited him I did an audition for Netherlands Chamber Choir - it just happened to be that week - and they said I could have a job - if I moved to Holland. I decided to finally make the move after a year. So the move was a combination of work and love. Actually, the love only lasted six months - we were very different. Anyway I had a job of course with the choir and then I met another man, who is now my husband. He is the reason I stayed. How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international? I think I say I am Swedish. That never goes away. I am considering...  More >

Bunkers and naked volleyball

Blogwatching: bunkers and naked volleyball What do you do if you have been sent to live in the Netherlands as a trailing husband for six months, while your wife works in a high powered job? Visiting columnist Joe Weeg has been exploring his neighbourhood. Part 1: Bunkers and naked volleyball. They are stark naked. Yup, not a speck of clothes. The eight old men have the volleyball net pulled tight in the sand and are shuffling to new positions as I come over the dune. The server makes some comment that tickles everyone’s fancy and then hits the ball underhanded to a loud cheer. A flurry of naked men descend on the net. Point to server. Trust me, this began innocently enough. I was curious about the bunkers that line the beaches at Scheveningen in The Hague, Netherlands. They are leftovers from World War II and were part of Hitler’s plan to defend the coast. The North Atlantic Wall ran all the way from Norway to France. And it just happens that in Scheveningen the bunkers sit directly above a nude beach. No kidding. The...  More >

Podcast: The Ginger & Lime Brexit Edition

DutchNews podcast – The Ginger and Lime Brexit Edition – Week 48 The past looms large in this week's podcast as rail operator NS agrees to compensate Holocaust victims who were transported on its trains. Amsterdam's mayor comes under pressure to enforce the so-called burka ban, there's a run on contraceptive pills, Mark Rutte delivers a 'deal or no deal' message on Brexit and health insurers sound the death knell for reincarnation therapy. In our discussion we look at the contenders for the annual Word of the Year competition. Ophef of the week: Forum voor Democratie members are mostly there to make up the numbers TOP STORY Railway operator NS agrees to pay compensation to Holocaust victims NEWS Burka ban will not be prioritised in Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Utrecht British nationals will not be able to vote in next year's European elections Scarce contraceptive pills being sold on Marktplaats for four times cover price Insurer CZ stops covering reincarnation therapy and other 'ridiculous' treatments SPORT Ajax reach...  More >

Dutch under threat in higher education

‘The threat to Dutch in higher education is no idle chitchat’ In the garden of higher education, Dutch is being weeded out. It’s alarming that the education minister seems oblivious to the demise of Dutch in higher education, say Annette de Groot, Erik Jurgens, Jean Pierre Rawie and Ad Verbrugge. The language policy of education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven is like a garden where English is allowed to bloom unhindered while Dutch is withering on the vine. In a recent radio-interview with journalist Frits Spits the increasing influence of English in higher education was recognised at once, but then the subject was conspicuously avoided. All the minister was willing to say was that we should not accept the prevailing idea that all teaching is already being done in English. ‘Higher education is still mainly conducted in Dutch’, she said. In other words, the public commotion about the unbridled colonisation of Dutch higher education by the English language is just so much idle chitchat. This stance wilfully denies the disastrous...  More >