Haarlem Christmas Market is known for being a whimsical and romantic weekend event located a stone’s throw away from its famous next-door neighbor, Amsterdam.
It’s also widely considered to be one of the biggest and best Christmas markets in the Netherlands!
We first visited this Christmas market in 2022 and loved the mix of old and new architecture, gift ideas and entertainment, as well as the overall Christmassy vibe of Haarlem.
Looking to learn more about the Haarlem Christmas market, or perhaps need some guidance on planning your own trip there?
In this post, we’ll be covering…
- Practical Info for Haarlem Christmas Market
- A Brief History of Haarlem Christmas Market
- Why Visit Haarlem Christmas Market?
- Christmas Markets in Haarlem to Visit
- More Photos of Haarlem Christmas Market
We hope you find it helpful and interesting!
Practical Info for Haarlem’s Christmas Market
Here are some quick must-knows for Haarlem Christmas Market this year:
- Dates: December 8 – 10, 2023
- Official website: Click here
In need of a place to stay? Here are some quick hotel recommendations:
- Budget: Check prices and availability
- Mid-Range: Check prices and availability
- Luxury: Check prices and availability
A Brief History of Haarlem Christmas Market
Haarlem’s Christmas market has only been going for about thirty years but in that time it has grown from just a handful of stalls to being widely accepted as one of the best (if not the best) and biggest Christmas markets in the Netherlands.
Market stalls line the edges of the Grote Markt, with the towering St Bavo Church as a backdrop, while there’s also a meandering route of more stalls down multiple streets centering around the city’s Old Town. The market has grown each year to include more than 350 stalls, along with multiple stages for musical performances and other festive events to enjoy.
Held over a three-day weekend period, usually two weeks before Christmas, it does get very busy with an estimated three hundred thousand visitors, so be sure to plan accordingly!
Why Visit Haarlem Christmas Market?
Wondering whether Haarlem Christmas Market is worth a trip? Here are some reasons to visit:
It’s bigger and more historic than the ones in Amsterdam
In general, the Netherlands doesn’t get quite as busy with Christmas markets as in neighboring Germany, and while there are some Christmas markets in the capital of Amsterdam, they’re not particularly large. Some of the Amsterdam Christmas markets also only take place for one day and they don’t have that big old European city feel to them that you might be craving.
So head to Haarlem, where the market takes place amidst a very well-preserved Old Town, a towering church and the city hall! It’s also touted as being the largest Christmas market in the country, so it should tick all the boxes for feeling festive and merry.
It’s also easy to get to from Amsterdam
While it’s not in Amsterdam, the Haarlem Christmas market is only a 15-minute train ride away (or 18 minutes if you get the slower train) so it’s very doable to visit from Amsterdam.
If you manage to time your trip well, you could even see most of the Christmas markets in Amsterdam and the Haarlem one all in one visit.
There’s a wonderful variety of stalls, entertainment and vibes!
Since it’s so big, there are a lot of different things to see, eat, drink and do while visiting Haarlem’s Christmas market. Most of the stalls sell lovely handmade items rather than mass-produced kitschy stuff, so it’s a great place to get some Christmas gift shopping done.
There are also musical performances all over the place, with two main stages… but we also saw musicians popping up on many of the side streets, along with stalls selling glühwein and hot chocolate to keep all visitors warm.
The Nostalgische Miniatuurkermis van (pictured below) is a real highlight, it’s a van displaying lots of miniature versions of fair rides complete with moving parts, lights and music.
Haarlem’s Christmas market also features one street with a 19th-century theme, which felt very reminiscent of the Christmas Dickens Festival in Deventer!
And, of course, there are plenty of cafés and restaurants lining the Grote Markt with festive lights if you want to stop for a rest and something to eat in the warmth as you watch the crowd go by.
Things to do at Haarlem Christmas Market
Wondering what do while exploring Christmas festivities in Haarlem? Here are some ideas:
Enjoy seeing Haarlem bedecked in festive decor
Haarlem is a lovely historic city, particularly the Old Town area where the Christmas market takes place. After all, is there anything prettier than a giant Christmas tree with a Gothic church in the background?
Besides the epic main backdrop, the shops along the market route go all out as well, with plenty of festive decorations, so the whole thing is truly a beautiful sight to behold!
Taste lots of yummy foods (and drink)
During our time at the Haarlem Christmas Market, we quickly figured out one of the top activities there is to simply eat and drink!
The area around the Botermarkt focused mostly on food stalls, either as gifts or to eat right there, including a stall selling vegan stroopwafels!
Other delights you will find throughout the market are stalls selling hot chocolate, gluhwein, churros, sausages in buns and all sorts of sweets. It’s quite difficult to walk along without salivating really…
Browse for delightful gifts
As we mentioned, the items for sale weren’t the kind of mass-produced knick-knacks you sometimes see at all the stalls in some Christmas markets.
Here it seemed like every stall sold something different, from artwork to leather goods, Christmas decorations, handmade candles, jewellery and lots of food or drink gifts.
Enjoy some entertainment
While the streets sometimes got very crowded and slow, it wasn’t too annoying when there were all sorts of musicians playing Christmas music as you went along. We saw two different bands, a saxophone-playing Santa, carollers in Victorian-era clothing and even a man playing carols on the accordion.
PRO TIP: There’s a whole entertainment calendar on the main website, so make sure you check it out if you are particularly into live music.
Visit the 19th-Century Christmas Street
If you visit Haarlem at Christmas time, the street normally known as Schagchelstraat is transformed into ‘t Straatje van Emma (which translates to Emma’s Little Street) during the market weekend, going back in time with a 19th-century Christmas fair with lots of locals in Victorian clothing either sitting in shop windows or at the stalls.
During our visit, there was also a man giving a demonstration with birds of prey, alongside musicians and carollers performing in costume, so it had a lovely historical feel to it. ‘Queen Emma‘ usually makes an appearance on the Sunday too!
Check out the shops and a tiny museum!
Along with all the Christmas market stalls, Haarlem is also filled with some excellent shopping opportunities, which would be a shame to miss out on if you’re there to do some shopping!
Meneer Paprika for instance (Mr Paprika, pictured below) is a toy shop and café that would be the ideal stop if you’re visiting with children.
Haarlem is also home to many excellent museums and while you might not have time to visit them during the market (unless you want to, of course) there’s one you can easily see for free as it’s just a window!
Het Kleinste Museum van Haarlem (the smallest museum in Haarlem) is part of the local art center, and around ten times a year it features a new tiny display of some sort of collection from someone local to Haarlem.
Sometimes there are collections of penguin figurines, or liquorice boxes or even memorabilia from a now-defunct football team. When we visited the museum contained postcards from Lourdes.
More Photos of Haarlem Christmas Market
Looking for some more Haarlem Christmas Market eye candy? Here are some additional photos we captured during our visit:
We hope you enjoyed this Haarlem Christmas Market Guide!
Let us know in the comments if you have any more questions about your trip – we’re always happy to help.