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What to Do During the Christmas Holidays in Amsterdam


If your Amsterdam travel plans include a visit during the Christmas season, you won't find the city's attractions and restaurants closed for the holidays. Choose from any of these activities and events to make your Christmas Eve or Christmas Day a memorable one.

Note: Any dates listed below are valid for the 2009 / 2010 holiday season.

Unique Seasonal Entertainment:

  • Performance of 'Nutcracker and Mouseking' by the Dutch National Ballet
    December 9 - January 1
    Only here could you see Tchaikovsky's fairy-tale Christmas ballet set in an Amsterdam canal house and featuring dancers ice-skating on frozen canals. Children and adults alike enjoy this favorite holiday tradition. (€ 22 - 61)
  • Christmas Concerts at the Concertgebouw
    (December 24, 25 and 26)
    On Christmas Eve, enjoy a free classical concert of Christmas classics in the Great Hall of this award-winning 19th-century venue. On Christmas Day, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra performs pieces by Beethoven and Mahler (€ 20-100). And on December 26, enjoy a Christmas recital from renowned Dutch concert pianist Regina Albrink.
  • Winterparade
    (December 18 - 29, also New Year's Eve)
    If you want something a little less traditional than the typical holiday celebration, head over to the Westergasfabriek complex in the Westerpark neighborhood of Amsterdam. The Winterparade (€ 35) showcases theater, music, dance, film, cartoons and comedy wrapped in a special Christmas package. And all the while you can eat, drink and be very merry at the many nearby restaurants and bars. Winterparade's last night promises to be quite the New Year's Eve bash (€ 55).
  • Wereldkerstcircus at Theater Carré
    (December 18 - January 3)
    The Wereldkerstcircus (World Christmas Circus) performance has been an anticipated Christmas tradition in Amsterdam for more than two decades. International acts performing live music, awe-inspiring acrobatics, stallion dressage and other animal shows entertain visitors young and old in this grand 120-year-old theater. And yes, there are plenty of clowns, too! (€ 15 - 54)

Special Christmas Programs at Amsterdam Museums:

Check the full museum holiday opening hours page for details on which museums are open. These museums offer special programs during the Christmas season:
  • Christmas in the Bijbels Museum
    (2009 dates to be announced)
    During the Christmas season, garlands of evergreens and sparkling decorations adorn the stately interiors of Amsterdam's Bijbels Museum (Biblical Museum), housed in three stunning canal houses. Enjoy a Christmas concert on December 25 (1:30 and 3 p.m.) or a Christmas sing-along for young children on December 26. Children can also watch the tafeltheater (table theater) presentations of the nativity story.
  • 'Christmas in the Attic' at Museum Amstelkring
    (2009 dates to be announced)
    The Museum Amstelkring, also known as Our Lord in the Attic, features an exhibition called Kerst op Solder (Christmas in the Attic), highlights of which include colorful Santon figurines from the South of France. The hidden church is decorated in grand Christmas splendor for visitors to enjoy.

Christmas Dinner out in Amsterdam:

While Christmas Day and the day after Christmas are national holidays in the Netherlands, countless restaurants in Amsterdam are open for service on these days and many offer special holiday menus. To find a restaurant that suits your taste, try an advanced search on the IENS Independent Index (a taster-reviewed website of Dutch restaurants), where you can select "Open on December 24/25" in the search criteria.

If you're looking for a fine-dining experience for Christmas, most of Amsterdam's five-star hotels offer multi-course menus for the holidays. The restaurants at boutique hotels like the College Hotel and The Dylan are also excellent choices for a delicious, festive meal.

Religious Services in English in Amsterdam:

Many churches in Amsterdam offer Christmas services in English. To find a comprehensive list, see the Expatica website.
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