Leiden Christmas Market is known for its delightfully nostalgic feel… and of course the fact that parts of it float on the city’s canals!
It’s also widely considered to be one of the most unique Christmas markets in the Netherlands, mainly thanks to its number of floating canal attractions.
We first visited this Christmas market in 2022 and loved how pretty the city of Leiden looked all decked out for Christmas. While the main market wasn’t a floating market anymore, there was still a fun floating ice rink and plenty of shopping opportunities.
Looking to learn more about the Leiden Christmas market, or perhaps need some guidance on planning your own trip there?
In this post, we’ll be covering…
- Practical Info for Leiden Christmas Market
- A Brief History of Leiden Christmas Market
- Why Visit Leiden Christmas Market?
- Christmas Markets in Leiden to Visit
- More Photos of Leiden Christmas Market
We hope you find it helpful and interesting!
Practical Info for Leiden Christmas Market
Here are some quick must-knows for Leiden Christmas Market this year:
- Dates: Dec 13 – 17
- 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 Leiden Christmas Market
There isn’t too much info available on the history of Leiden’s floating Christmas market, but it has been going since at least 2016 when it won the best Christmas market in Europe award.
The Christmas market in Leiden is most famous for being held on a big floating platform in the main canal, although this year things were a little different, probably because it was cancelled for the previous two years due to covid.
In 2022, the only floating element was the ice-skating rink, while there was a nostalgic Christmas market held on the small Hooglandse Kerkgracht road in front of the impressive Hooglandse Kerk.
We’re not sure if the floating market will be back next year or whether that element has been retired completely but we will keep an eye out for any news – so watch this space!
Why Visit Leiden Christmas Market?
Wondering whether Leiden Christmas Market is worth a trip? Here are some reasons to visit:
Leiden is a gorgeous city and even prettier at Christmas
Leiden contains a lot of centuries-old architecture, pretty canals and bridges so it’s a beautiful spot to visit at any time of year. It has even been used as a stand-in for historic Amsterdam in films and tv shows like The Miniaturist!
During the Winter Wonder Weken (weeks) there are a number of events and, of course, the whole city is decorated which just makes it even more charming. Make sure you head up to the Burcht van Leiden (which is near the main market and ice-rink) for picturesque views like the one below.
The market and fair are very nostalgic and cozy
While this year’s market might have been smaller and less spectacular than in previous iterations, it was still very lovely, held on an old street surrounded by ancient buildings and the towering Hooglandse Kerk – a Gothic church which dates back to the 15th century.
The stalls at the nostalgic Christmas market were all quite unique as well, with plenty of charming gift ideas and yummy treats.
You can go ice skating on a rink that floats on the canal!
Every year, Dutch people wait with bated breath for the canals to freeze enough to go ice skating, but in Leiden, you can ice-skate on a floating rink in the middle of the main canal no matter the weather.
There’s also a floating café and the rink is open from early December to early January.
Festive Locations in Leiden to Visit
Wondering where to find Christmas market stalls and festive activities in Leiden? Here are the main locations of Leiden Christmas Market:
Nostalgic Christmas Market
The main Christmas market is the Nostalgic one held under the shadow of Hooglandse Kerk.
It is quite small but very charming, with hot drinks and food to warm up while you browse the stalls for gifts.
There are also musical performances popping up and cafés nearby if you want a break.
Nostalgic Christmas Fairground
Not far from the city center of Leiden there’s also a small Nostalgic Christmas Fairground, which has a variety of antique rides for children, a photo opp with a Santa statue and sleigh, plus we saw a real Santa Claus wandering around saying hello.
There’s also an epic oliebollen stall here selling all sorts of yummy things like waffles as well as the oliebollen, which are a quintessential Dutch festive food!
Floating Ice-Skating Rink
Another main festive location to visit in Leiden is the floating ice-skating rink, which is open from the beginning of December until early January, so you can have some fun on the ice even if you miss out on the market.
Entry price here includes skate hire/rental and they have regular special events like ice curling, so check the website for more info (you will probably need to use Google translate though as it’s only in Dutch).
Another activity on offer throughout December is special winter sailings on the canals around Leiden.
Like Amsterdam, Leiden is crisscrossed with pretty canals, and seeing the sights from the water is a fun way to experience the city.
During the Winter Wonder Weeks, the boats are covered to provide more warmth (a hot drink is also included) as you enjoy spotting Christmas decorations and lights during your sailing trip.
Books & Bites
Typically in mid-December, another small Christmas market is held, called Books & Bites which focuses on, you guessed, food and books!
Bookworms are sure to love browsing the different book stalls and then having something to eat amongst the Christmas decorations. This market is held on the Pieterskerkhof next to the Pieterskerk, a former church which now hosts events.
More Photos of Leiden Christmas Market
Looking for some more Leiden Christmas Market eye candy? Here are some additional photos we captured during our visit:
We hope you enjoyed this Leiden Christmas Market Guide!
Let us know in the comments if you have any more questions about your trip – we’re always happy to help.