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Holiday Season

ChristmasChristmas - 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.


MuseumpleinThe 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.

Did you know the Dutch also celebrate 'Sinterklaas', on the evening of the 5th of December? Sinterklaas is the basis for the North American figure of Santa Claus.


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