What to Do in Amsterdam in December

light festival
Photo by Cosmin Serban on Unsplash

Amsterdam is one of the world’s most beloved and culturally rich cities, making it a perfect winter getaway. From Sinterklaas Eve on December 4 to Kerst (Christmas) and Oud en Nieuw (New Year’s Eve), Amsterdam comes alive with festive events, markets and treats for visitors of all ages to enjoy.

Light Festival

Amsterdam transforms into an open-air art gallery during the annual Amsterdam Light Festival, held between early December and late January. Visitors flock to admire stunning illuminated artworks along the canals and winding streets of Amsterdam – drawing nearly one million visitors each year to admire them.

Ice Skating

When temperatures drop in Amsterdam, canals around town will freeze over and transform into an inviting ice rink. This is an enjoyable, easy and relatively budget-friendly way to experience Amsterdam during the wintertime.


Amsterdam’s shops always look fantastic, but the festive spirit really comes alive in December – particularly at big department stores that put up special Christmas decorations and window displays. Bijenkorf in Dam Square stands out with its magnificent Christmas tree outside the building – a sight not to be missed!


For those of you who appreciate fried dough, Amsterdam in December is the ideal time to try this delectable treat. These soft balls of dough, traditionally served at midnight on New Year’s Eve, can be purchased from either a stall outside the Rijksmuseum or from a baker at Ten Kate Markt.