What to Do During the Christmas Holidays in Amsterdam

Christmas decorations in Rembrandtplein, Amsterdam
George Pachantouris / Getty Images

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.

Unique Seasonal Entertainment

  • Performance of The Sleeping Beauty by the Dutch National BalletPerformed 18 times during the Christmas season is the fairytale ballet by Marius Petipa to music by Tchaikovsky. Children and adults alike enjoy this favorite holiday tradition.
  • Christmas Concerts at the ConcertgebouwOn Christmas Eve, enjoy a Baroque Christmas Concert, featuring Musica Amphion, Pieter-Jan Belder (harpsichord/organ/leader), and Ilse Eerens (soprano), and music from Manfredini, Händel, A. Scarlatti, and Corelli. Tickets from €21.00.
  • Winterparade: From December 21 to 30, 2017, if you want something a little less traditional than the typical holiday celebration, head over to Zuiderkerk Church. The Winterparade (€45 for adults, €22,50 for children) showcases theater, music, a silent disco, 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.
  • Wereldkerstcircus at Theater Carré: From December 21, 2017 to January 7, 2018, the Wereldkerstcircus (World Christmas Circus) performance has been an anticipated Christmas tradition in Amsterdam for more than three 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! (€19 - 64)

Special Christmas Programs at Amsterdam Museums

Check the full museum holiday opening hours page available on their websites for details on which museums are open. These museums offer special programs during the Christmas season:

  • Christmas in the Bijbels Museum: 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. In previous years, you could enjoy a Christmas concert on December 25 or a Christmas sing-along for young children on December 26. Children can also watch the tafeltheater (table theater) presentations of the nativity story. Awaiting details for 2017.
  • 'Christmas in the Attic' at Museum Amstelkring: 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 Fork, 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 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.