Friday, December 23, 2022

Virtual Advent Tour - Christmas markets in The Netherlands

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Advent tour hosted at Sprite Writes. I am so pleased to see that the tour is still going strong. The first virtual advent tour was back in 2006 so that isn't a bad run!!

We are currently in The Netherlands where we are spending Christmas with my husband's brother and his family who now live here. His parents are also here from South Africa. It's the first time my husband will spend Christmas with his parents and brother in around 15 years so it is a pretty big deal!

This part of our trip is all about the family things, so when we were planning our trip, there was only one thing that I insisted that we needed to do. I had to be able to visit a Christmas market. If I got to do anything else touristy it would be a bonus.

As it happens we have visited two markets (so far). The first was in a town called Valkenburg which is about 3 hours away from here and it is considered to be one of the biggest markets in The Netherlands and is the biggest underground market in Europe. The town of Valkenburg is quite close to the Dutch border, so there was a mix of nationalities visiting. We visited during the week so it wasn't too busy, thank goodness. I imagine it would get very busy on weekends!

The thing that makes Valkenburg unique is that all the markets are held in the caves underneath the ruins of a medieval castle.  There are four caves, but we only visited two - Gemeentegrot (Municipal Cave) and Fluweelengrot (Velvet Cave). 

The setting in the caves was amazing. I was a bit disappointed by the stalls themselves, but it was still worth the long drive to visit such an interesting place and so much history. For example, in one of the caves there is a chapel that was established in the time of the French Revolution. Catholic priests would  run church services, marriages, christenings hidden away. There are still services held now on request. It would be a magical place to get married for sure.

There is also a daily parade through the town but we didn't stay for that because it was a long drive back to where we are staying.

We also visited the Royal Christmas Market in The Hague today, which we visited as it is where my mother in law grew up. This was set in a park surrounded by old buildings. There were bare trees that had lights strung between them, the smell of food cooking, music playing.

I really loved visiting both of these places and could easily have spent a lot more time in both of these towns. The Hague seemed particularly interesting, especially because of my mother in law's connection, but also because the city has an interesting history!


  1. I love this! We have one in downtown D.C., but this looks way more fun!

    1. We have European Christmas markets in Australia too, but not very many and different from this!

  2. That looks amazing, Marg! Look how your Christmas has changed over the years! 2006 you would have no idea. :) Merry Christmas!!

  3. Looks amazing. Now I need to spend a month in Europe going to all the Christmas markets I keep hearing about.

    1. I would love to do some more but I am not sure that I could convince my husband to do more just yet!