8 ultra-gezellige ways to spend Christmas in Amsterdam [2023 guide]

Magical Christmas atmosphere? Check ✅✨

It’s the most wonderful time of the year —  especially if you’re celebrating Christmas in Amsterdam! 

Amsterdam, now officially one of the most festive European cities, has so much to offer during the Christmas period. Gezellige lights, ice rinks galore, and steaming cups of hot glühwein … what more could you want? ☕

The city of ruthless bike lanes and endless head shops also hosts some of the cosiest, Christmassy events. Here are eight ultra-gezellige things to do during Christmas in Amsterdam!

1. Take a walk and experience the Amsterdam Light Festival

The Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual light-art festival that transforms the city centre into a glowing masterpiece!

Running from November 30 until January 21, it’s an inspiring way to take in the sights of the city. We all know how scenic the canals of Amsterdam are, so why not see them in a different light this Christmas? 

The light art installations are illuminated daily from 5 PM until 11 PM, so it makes for a perfect evening walk around Christmas with some warm cocoa in your belly. If you’re not much of a walker, you can also enjoy the festival by boat! 🚤

📍 Location: Oosterdokskade 341, 1011 BS Amsterdam
Opening times: November 30 to January 21, 5 PM to 11 PM daily
💰 Price: €26.50 for a boat cruise ticket, €7.99 for the map of the artwork

2. Catch a Christmas concert

What could be more festive than a wonderful Christmas concert? If you want to hear the Christmas classics from the comfortable seats of a concert hall, an evening spent in the plush seats of Amsterdam’s National Opera and Ballet, indulging in the wonder of ‘Silent Night’ played by the Netherlands’s most talented musicians is surely the way to go. 

Most churches in Amsterdam will also be hosting their own choir and Christmas Carol performances. The Nieuw Kerk on Dam Square is hosting a wonderful night of Christmas carols by candlelight on Christmas Day. We can’t think of a more beautiful way to celebrate the season! 🕯

Most churches in Amsterdam will be hosting their own choir events, so be sure to check the church closest to where you’re staying. ⛪

3. Skate the day away at Amsterdam’s ice rinks

Sipping warme chocolade melk wrapped in your fuzziest sweater and enjoying the Christmas spirit; it doesn’t get more festive than that. But wait, what if you add ice skating into the mix?

Going ice skating is just one thing to do in Amsterdam during Christmas. Image: Depositphotos

In Amsterdam, you can spend your Christmas ice skating, building ice sculptures and even curling in the many ice rinks. Grab your warmest clothing and ice skates for a day filled with fun! Here’s just a few of them:

4. Grab a candy cane at the Christmas markets

What could be a better Christmas activity in Amsterdam than visiting some of the many wonderful Christmas markets? Amsterdam has a selection of cosy Christmas markets to choose from, including:

Grab some one-of-a-kind gifts at the market, or treat yourself to something sweet. Image: Depositphotos
  • RAI Amsterdam: At Amsterdam’s huge convention centre, you’ll find a winter paradise; with live music, a skating rink, and even a festive Ferris wheel, you’ll be able to spend a whole day there while you shop the stalls. 
  • Ice*Village Amsterdam: Located on the famous Museumplein, the Ice*Village can be found right beside the rink, where you can shop the stalls and get some warm mulled wine to keep your hands warm. 

5. Watch the professionals skate the ice 

Not a huge fan of ice skating? Instead of putting your poor limbs through the cold, you can catch a showing of Holiday on Ice. ⛸

At this wonderful Christmas-time event at RAI Amsterdam, you can see the performance of their new show, ‘A New Day’.

With a blizzard and fireworks incorporated into this fairy-tale of a love story, as well as artists suspended in the air and on the ice below, you’re sure to be on the edge of your seat. 🎇

📍 Location: Europaplein 24, 1078 GZ Amsterdam
💰 Price: From €29.90
Open from: December 28 to December 30

6. Delight in Dutch winter delicacies 

If you’re in Amsterdam during the winter season, there is one thing you absolutely must do: Eat some good Dutch food! 

Oh, go on then, I’ll have just one. And one more. And one more. And… Image: Pixabay

Come on, one of the best things to do in Amsterdam during Christmas is stuffing your face full of delicious and warm oliebollen.

A doughy delicacy sure to leave you full and your fingers covered in a healthy amount of grease and often powdered sugar, you can grab a serving of oliebollen from street stalls. 

Is this Dutch dish not enough for you? Then, treat yourself to some pepernoten before the season is up, or serve up a gourmetten dinner while you enjoy your stay in Amsterdam! 

You will be able to find oliebollen from street stalls and restaurants in Amsterdam, while you can buy a bag of pepernoten from most grocery stores. As for gourmetten… perhaps you’ll need to make some Dutch friends ASAP. 

7. Shop Amsterdam’s iconic streets

Hold on, did you think we weren’t going to mention shopping in Amsterdam? 

You can’t miss the lights of Amsterdam’s shopping streets at Christmas time. Image: Depositphotos

During Christmas, the streets are covered in gezellige lights, and the atmosphere is just jumping with excited tourists and Dutchies roaming the streets.

With Christmas-themed decorations filling shop fronts and a weekly koopavond every Thursday, where shops open that extra bit later until 9 PM, shopping the streets will fill you with festive glee. 🎄

Make your way through Kalverstraat, PC Hooftstraat, and even migrate through to Rokin. Along the way, you’ll see many of your favourite major stores and a few special to Amsterdam. Need a snack? Visit Van Wonderen, where you can get some freshly made stroopwafels

📍 Location: Start at Nieuwendijk and work your way down! 
💰 Price: Gratis, but shopping will cost you 
⏰ Opening hours: Depends on the store, but most shops are open from Monday to Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM 

8. Stick around for the epic New Year’s Fireworks

One thing the Netherlands has surely got down to a T — New Year’s Eve fireworks

Any international or visitor to the land of cheese and clogs will be blown away by the fireworks that take place on the holiday. 

Normally everyone is allowed to set off fireworks, but it’s incredibly chaotic, so Amsterdam is putting a stop to it this year with a municipal ban on the lighting of fireworks by regular citizens. Instead, head on over to Museumplein for the ‘Amsterdam counts down to 2023’ fireworks and light show! 🎇

📍 Location: Museumplein, 1079 RA Amsterdam
💰 Price: Gratis
⏰ Open from: Fireworks will start on December 31, though some events might start the firework onslaught a little earlier 

Spending the festive season here in the Netherlands means there are so many things to do during Christmas in Amsterdam. 🎄

After you’ve tired yourself out shopping the streets and burning off the oliebollen by ice skating, make sure to try a glass of Dutch beer in a cosy pub, and then, like a true Dutch person, give out about the state of the NS on your way home. 

Will you be visiting Amsterdam this Christmas? Tell us your plans in a comment below! 👇

This article was originally published in December 2022, and was fully updated in December 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Heather Slevin
Heather Slevin
Heather is a Dublin native, addicted to catching the Luas, the Irish version of a tram, for one stop, and well used to the constant rain and shine. Seeking to swap one concrete city for another (with a few more canals and a friendlier attitude to cyclists) here she is with the Dutch Review! As a Creative Writing student, she can usually be found sweating over the complicated formatting of her latest poem or deep inside the pages of a book, and loves writing, writing, writing.

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