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Winter Holiday Attractions in The Netherlands

Are you spending the winter holidays here in the Netherlands? As an international student, being away from your family during the holiday season is never easy. However, it can be made a lot better if you keep busy! Here are a few events you can check out this December.


There is no better place to get into the Christmas vibe than in Amsterdam. The city truly comes alive during the winter months. Whether it be ice-skating across the winter wonderland of the museumplein, visiting the Ice Village Christmas Market, or checking out one of the many outstanding museums of the city, spending a winter day in Amsterdam will be lots of fun.

My favorite winter attraction in Amsterdam, is by far its light festival. Every year, from 29 November to 20 January, the Amsterdam Light Festival is held throughout the historic city. Although you can see the lights yourself by walking through the streets, you can also pay a small fee for a boat ride through the decorated canals. This year, the theme of the festival is "The Medium is the Message," based on a famous statement by the Canadian scientist Marshall McLuhan. Through its 30 selected light pieces, the festival will display "The role of light in conveying a message and the city of Amsterdam as a medium for telling stories..." 

Last year, I visited the festival for the first time with my family. It was truly a magical experience sailing through the illuminated city and canals. I strongly recommend you to check it out this year!

Magical Maastricht

One of the most beautiful places to visit in winter, is by far Maastricht. With its own unique charm and dialect, Maastricht is unlike any other city in the Netherlands. During Christmas, it is one of the most magical cities to visit. Every year for the entire month of December, Magical Maastricht is held in the central Vrijthof Square. With a huge ice-skating rink and tons of little Christmas stands, this winter wonderland is truly a sight to see. Alongside the market, the city will also host a Magical Culture Festival with 90 different musical, dance and cultural performances. Special activities will also be held throughout the different museums in the city. 

So what are you waiting for? Book your train tickets and take a trip down to Maastricht!

Dickens Festival

Looking for a more poetic Christmas experience? Well why not check out the Dickens Festival held every year from 15-16 December in the city of Deventer? During this festival, Deventer will transform into a 19th century English town filled with more than 950 characters from the literary world of Charles Dickens. Filled with market stalls, street performances and beautiful decorations, this festival is one to definitely add to your list this winter! 

Due to its immense popularity, waiting lines can be quite long during the Dickens Festival. So make sure to get there early!

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