Christmas - The Dutch celebrate two days of Christmas: Eerste Kerstdag (the first day of Christmas) on the 25th of December and Tweede Kerstdag (Boxing day) on the 26th. For visitors to the city, who are more used to the Anglo-American Christmas held on the 24th and 25th of December, there is still plenty of fun left to be had. If you find yourself in the city this Christmas, the following are a few suggestions to help you pass the time and incorporate a little Dutch culture into your holidays.
Museumplein is turned into a Christmas Square every year, boasting a market and craft-making displays perfect for passing an afternoon. There is also an ice rink which is open well into the evening. Christmas lights have been up since November, and an evening stroll in any direction from the brightly-illuminated tree in Dam Square can prove a pleasant one, especially through the Leidseplein and its surrounding area or towards the Jordaan, which is full of cosy cafes and unique shops. Read more about the Christmas markets here.
The Red Light District has Christmas lights of its own (not just red ones!) and seems to never shut down. Several of the churches around Amsterdam are offering seasonal concerts, both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Sint Nicolaaskerk (www.muziekindenicolaas. nl), for instance, has free services featuring Gregorian music. The concerts are at 21:00 on 24 December, and 10:30 on 25 and 26 December. Museum Amstelkring, a church located on the top two stories of a canal house in the heart of the Red Light District, is offering Christmas Eve masses at 20:00 and 22:00. In Amsterdam many museums, shops, cafés and restaurants as well as the casino are open on Christmas day.