If the dim daylight, the early dark and the general wetness of the season threaten your mood, Christmas markets in and around Rotterdam will definitely lift your spirits. The bright lights, homemade goods and Christmassy smells will tease you into enjoying the time leading up to Christmas.
Generally speaking, Rotterdammers are not actually famous for their Christmas markets. It’s more the little communities within the communities that have brought them from their home countries and are not willing to give up their Christmas-market-tradition just because they have relocated. So, the ones in Rotterdam are often connected to churches. But if that makes you itch; nobody will say the slightest if you are an atheist and still turn up.
There are also the ones in Rotterdam's surrounding areas. These are held at castles, country houses and the like, but not without a bit of a hiccup: they often tend to charge hefty entrance fees and are mainly aimed at ladies above 50. There’s one close to Rotterdam that comes close to Christmas markets as known in other countries and is ideal for friends and families, but you’ll have to get out of the city.
The Dordrecht Christmas market (cancelled in 2019)
This is what most people think of if they hear the words Christmas market. Stalls on the streets selling sweets, snacks and all the little things Christmas that you would expect to find at a Christmas market.
The Dordrecht Christmas Market is held in the old part of town and harbour, which itself is very charming. It's fairly big, with space to wander around a little and for kids to run around. You can enjoy traditional poffertjes (small puffy pancakes) and even sit in a giant Ferris wheel.
It’s the Dutch Christmas market that you would imagine. Everything is bright and jolly, and they wouldn’t dream of charging an entry fee for it. Its three days from 13-15 December and it’s opening days and hours are Friday 14 December from 10.00 to 21.00, Saturday 15 December from 10.00 to 21.00 and Sunday 16 December from 11.00 to 18.00.
Norwegian Sailor Church Christmas market 📷 Anna Soetens
The Scandinavian Christmas markets
The Norwegian Sailor Church, the Danish Sailor church, the Swedish church and the Finish Sailor church all have Christmas markets within their delightful and different churches. They are sized as big as the churches go, so it’s pretty modest but lovely to get you in the mood.
You can buy Norwegian sweaters, Danish fairy tale books, Swedish calendars and Finish Christmas bulbs. Have a glogg or hot chocolate and sample some baked goods. The Christmas markets are scheduled to get you in the mood for Christmas ahead of time, so you can visit one on each November weekend.
Get your google on early for the exact dates every year or check the churches websites.
The German Christmas market in Rotterdam
Organised by Deutsche Evangelische Gemeinde Rotterdam, it’s another market hosted by a church. It’s as cute and cosy as they get, and you can get an idea of what Christmas entails in Germany. Here too, you can buy home-made crafts and have a Christmas cake.
Check Facebook to find it and plan early - this one is one day, often end of November.
Christmas in the Trompenburg garden
The botanical garden Trompenburg Arboretum is inviting you to get into the snug season mood. Christmas stalls and classy food bites as well as home-made products nestled within the beautiful garden in Kralingen. Shop some handmade presents and have a Glühwein!
In 2019, it's from 13 to 15 December, starting on Friday afternoon and ending Sunday at 16.00 o’clock.
Winterwonderland in the Citycenter
There usually is a Christmas market on the Grote Kerkplein in the city centre, but make sure it’s on this year before you go. It’s first and foremost known for the ice-skating rink, which is a fun activity for children (I am guessing from around six-years up). You can rent your skates there, so just pop on over if you are gift shopping in the city anyway.
There are also a couple of stands and a merry-go-round for younger children. For the adults, there is also a Glühwein to be had, just in case you must wait for your children on the ice or fancy a warm-up.
Find more information and pictures on Facebook.
https://www.facebook.com/Kerstmarkt-Rotterdam-centrum-145879629105068/ Open from 5 December to 3 January.
Kasteel de Haar 📷 Anna Soetens
Visit a castle or country house – Christmas fair
Kasteel de Haar
If you get out of town for a Christmas market or fair, why not up the game and visit a castle while you’re at it? We went to Kasteel de Haar to see what it was like. Word of warning again; they are charging a hefty entrance fee. And a tip: make sure you park close to the castle, or you might have to wait for a park and ride. Those are admittedly well enough organized, but you might not know how long you must wait, which drives some of us over the edge.
Also, you need to consider that it’s not necessarily child-friendly in the sense that there is no specific child entertainment. Bubs pay no entrance fee though, and ours were content with looking at the fairy tale castle, eating some sweets, seeing the market stalls - not much to buy for them there, which helps with the whining - and the Father Christmas wandering about being very friendly and photogenic.
Also, they have different musical entertainment options, but we were lucky enough to catch a few songs of a group of carol singers dressed in Dickensian gear. And again, bear in mind the average age of the mainly female crowd is above 50. Its also in November, so if you want to go check out their website for dates.
Kasteel de Haar Carol Singers 📷 Anna Soetens