First published in TU Delta as part of the Survival Guide on November 3, 2014. The dates and prices mentioned in the article are specific to 2014. Please read delta.tudelft.nl or delft.nl for updated information.
Don’t let the thought of the dark days of winter bring you down. From ice-skating to Christmas choirs and visiting saints – these are the things to watch out for starting November.
Sinterklaas comes to town
The Dutch precursor to Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, arrives in the Netherlands from Spain by boat in November. This year he reaches Amsterdam on November 16 and then travels to other Dutch cities. His boat usually arrives in different cities in a grand parade, with several of his helpers performing acrobatic stunts. He then gets on his magnificent white horse for a foot-parade through the city, throwing sweets and gifts out for excited children. He reaches Delft on November 22 at 12:30 along the Oostsingel waterfront, his parade will cross Markt at 14:00 and then head to Beestenmarkt at 15:30. Sinterklaas itself is celebrated on December 5, and in a tradition similar to Christmas, children leave hay for Sint’s horse by the fireplace and he in turn leaves them gifts.
Skate away the blues
December 5 to January 6
You needn’t pray for snow if you’re hoping to ice-skate this year. Regard-less of dipping mercury, the city has a pop-up ice rinks ready for you. A temporary ice-rink – DSW Schaatsbaan Delft – opens each year at Beestenmarkt as well. Open for a month, fun party-music, disco lights and Christmas decorations add to its festival appeal. Those without skates can rent at the site and help is at hand for beginners. An ice-bar, ice-disco, ladies night and a special event for students are lined up. Both rent and entry are €5.75 for a whole day.
Light up the winter
Christmas festivities kick-off on December 9 with Lichtjesavond, a lighting ceremony where the whole town gathers to watch a giant Christmas light up. The day is marked by a Christmas market, with small concerts, food stalls all across town, carol singers and lots of Glu wine on sale. The tree chosen is usually a tall Nordmann that is beautifully decorated and usually big tree is usually lit at 19:00 but keep an eye on Delft.nl closer to the day for more updates. Now in its 17th year, the tradition was started to bring people of the city together and celebrate the Christmas spirit.
November end to December end
It’s the season of giving, but it usually begins with a long shopping spree. All across Europe, traditional Christmas markets are set-up around this time. The more famous ones include the Cologne Christmas Markets in Germany (November 24 to December 23) which is visited by millions, Amsterdam’s Local Goods Christmas Market, a two-day event at the De Hallen complex (December 20-21). And the Dickens Festival in Deventer, Overijssel (December 20-21) a Christmas tribute to Charles Dickens. From Scrooge and Oliver Twist to drunkards and carollers, over 950 characters from his books come alive at Bergkwartier as the city becomes 19th Century England for two days. The festival has over 150,000 annual visitors. Free to the public, it is open from 11:00 to 17:00
Now in its ninth year, the Kerstconcerten in Delft is held at the Old Church, the concert line-up includes celebrity performers. This year TV presenter and Opera singer Ernst Daniël Smid and his daughter Coosje Smid, who competed in The Voice of Holland, will also perform. Tickets cost from €32.50 to €37.50. Celebrating Christmas dreams from Vienna is the Ave Marie Kerstconcert. This year, soloists join the New Romanian Chamber Orchestra and Choir as they perform at venues across the country. In Delft, it will be held on December 22 at the Old Church. Tickets cost €49.50 at the venue, (30% off for newsletter subscribers).