Over the past few weeks we have been experiencing some of the Dutch Christmas markets, or “Kerstmarkten”. It seems to be a widely accepted truth that the Germans do them the best. Portland has a lot of markets throughout the year, so that is my only point of comparison as far as markets go. The best part about the Kerstmarkten here in the Netherlands seems to be the general atmosphere. Tightly packed booths and loads of people. Smells of fresh stroopwafel, poffertjes, and glühwein wafting past your nose. Groups of friends huddled around small fire pits, and the scraping sounds of ice skaters in the background. Oh and don’t forget the lights…so many holiday lights!
Unfortunately the booths that were not selling delicious treats and wine left much to be desired. Only a few hand crafted products and the rest were sort of the same variety of gifty items you might find in a shop. We did find well priced sheep skins at the Maastricht Kerstmarkt, but we didn’t make it back the next day to buy one. 🙁 I also took the opportunity to buy myself some of the ever popular Happy Socks at the Leiden Market. They are the go-to gift item here in North and South Holland it seems.
This isn’t really a holiday photo, but I really enjoyed our trip to Maastricht last weekend and wanted to share this shot I took near the central train station. The kerstmarkt there was bigger and a more spaced out than the one in Leiden. But Leiden is a small city and they make use of the many canals by building floating platforms on top of the water. This is where they set up the kerstmarkt and the ice rink! They did the same thing for 3 Oktober and built a performance stage and dance platform atop a canal. Oh, and it wouldn’t be a Dutch event without a ferris wheel, or “reuzenrad”.
We didn’t go out of our way to visit any of the really special markets this time, but I would like to chip away at the list a little each year. There is the Christmas Town Valkenburg which has multiple markets set underground in caves. The Dicken’s Festival in Deventer, and of course we would love to see some outside of the Netherlands like in Belgium, Germany or even some Scandinavian markets. Need to have some real German glühwein!