The winter season is always filled of joy and that “gezellig” feeling that surrounds the festivities. However, it is still difficult to come up with activities to spend quality time with family and friends at this time of year. The cold aura is perceived as unwelcoming or discouraging for some people, even more so for expats who arrived in the Netherlands not so long ago and are not used to seasonal changes. 

That’s why we at Octagon took up the challenge to come up with some nice things to do in the Netherlands while it’s winter. Here we go: 

Explore the Enchanting Christmas Town of the Netherlands: Valkenburg 

Immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of Christmas in Valkenburg, a charming town in the south of the Netherlands, with the festive spirit that captivates visitors from both near and far. 

Valkenburg is renowned for its unique Christmas markets, which take place above and underground in captivating caves. The whole town is transformed into a winter wonderland and welcomes visitors for 51 days.  

If you are looking for a proper Christmas experience within the Netherlands, we completely recommend you visit this place. If you are in the mood for more holiday fun after your visit, you can always check around the amazing Christmas market in Maastricht — one of the most famous in the Netherlands.  

Amsterdam Light Festival  

You can’t miss the opportunity to walk near the canals during the Amsterdam Light Festival. This year’s festival promises to be a visual spectacular as it blows its way through the heart of the city, showcasing 20 stunning art pieces under the theme “LOADING… Revealing Art, AI, and Tech.” 

From Thursday 30 November until Sunday 21 January, these incredible art pieces illuminate the canals every night from 17:00. Take this unique opportunity to witness the integration of art, artificial intelligence, and technology, creating an unforgettable experience against the charming scenery of Amsterdam’s waterways. Anyone visiting Amsterdam can witness the art, but you can also travel the canals by boat to get up-close and personal for a fee. 

Visit some Ice-skating rinks around the country. 

Something you can’t miss in wintertime is a good ice-skating rink. Around this time of year, practically every city (and most villages) in the Netherlands will set up an ice-skating rink. This article describes some of the best options so that you can decide to visit these cities and enjoy all the fun on this magical winter sport. 

Starting with the classic of classics, the Jaap Eden ice rink in Amsterdam. The third 400-meter rink built in the world, one of the oldest in history. This season you can visit the outdoor rink that is open to the public until the 24th of March 2024.  

If you are visiting us in The Hague, we should not forget to mention the Uithoof, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. As the largest indoor sports center in Holland, you will have the opportunity to ice skate on an Olympic-sized rink, and if you decide to go for more, you can always do some skiing and snowboarding here. Don’t forget to buy your tickets and book your time in advance. 

We have the perfect choice for those who love to feel like pros. Thialf , “the concert hall of delirious skating fans”. Its name says it all, the “king of winter”, the one that has hosted some of the worldwide famous legends of ice skating. This majestic venue is located in Heerenveen and can be easily reached by public transport. There is a great variety of recreational activities to share with family and friends. Don’t miss the opportunity and book your tickets now. 

Practice the very Dutch “Boswandeling”  

This was a very special recommendation of our Dutch team members. Known as Boswandeling, a relaxing and revitalizing walk through the forest. If you are a fan of winter sports and enjoying nature, you may appreciate this activity too. The Dutch find it pleasant (even healthy!) to walk through the forest or flower fields during this time of the year.  

At Octagon we invite you to try it! Despite the cold weather, it is important to enjoy the outdoors, and recognize the benefits of fresh air for strengthening the immune system and fighting respiratory infections. 

Let the tranquility of nature soothe your soul. Whether it’s the rustle of leaves underfoot or the sound of rustling branches, every step captures the essence of the Dutch appreciation for the great outdoors during the colder season. 

Immerse in the magical world of the Winter Amusement Parks 

Step into the realm of wonder as you embark on a magical journey through the amusement parks of the Netherlands in wintertime. We invite you to explore some of the most iconic Dutch amusement parks, now adorned in the festive spirit of Christmas. Like the enchanting transformations seen at Disney, these Dutch parks undergo a special metamorphosis, capturing the essence of the Christmas season. 

An always must-go, the Winter Efteling: the park creates a cozy and warm atmosphere to welcome its visitors at this time of the year. Musical shows, bonfires, winter treats, snowballs, and an open-air skating rink. The park looks completely different from the rest of the year and it’s a wonderful opportunity to share with the family. 

On the other hand, if you prefer a little bit more action, Walibi is always there for you: with the “Bright Nights, Rides and Lights” you will enjoy to the fullest. The whole place is covered in thousands of lights to make the attractions shine and create a magical experience. 

Let’s celebrate!

Now you know and there are no excuses! The Netherlands offers countless activities to enjoy during the winter. Whether it’s exploring the enchanting Christmas markets, enjoying family fun at the amusement parks, or simply going for a walk in the woods, there are plenty of options. At Octagon, we encourage you to venture out and create cherished moments with your family and friends. Embrace the warmth of the season and enjoy what it brings. We wish you a winter full of unforgettable experiences and shared laughter.