What is it about vendors selling local wares from huts clustered together in a central square that is so appealing? Is it the twinkling lights that are draped on the trees? The sound of music that fills the air? The chill that is warmed by wood-burning fires? Maybe it’s the mulled wine that amplifies the festive atmosphere.
We think, however, it is the quaintness of the markets that are most enjoyable. Friends and families come together in an age-old tradition under the soft glow of lights to stroll the lanes, peruse the merchandise – and sip warm gluhwein. The Christmas Markets near Nijmegen manifest all the merriment of the holiday season!
Christmas Markets near Nijmegen
Housesitting for the holidays in Nijmegen, Netherlands, we anticipated there being an opportunity to visit at least one festive market to revel in the Christmas atmosphere. We overachieved by visiting three Christmas Markets near Nijmegen: Klever Weihnachtsmarkt, Beek Kerstmarkt and Kerst op de Grote Markt Nijmegen. Each market, while essentially quite similar, displayed unique elements.
Being close to the German border has its advantages; one being that it is just a half hour bus ride to Kleve, Germany, which hosts a traditional German Christmas market. In addition to the handmade crafts for sale from wooden huts, there was a large stage, a small petting zoo and many booths selling local fare.
The foot-long bratwursts, sautéed mushrooms and reibekuchen (potato pancakes) were all a big hit – but the booths selling gluhwein (spiced, mulled wine) with a dash of rum appeared to be the most popular with the crowds.
The event is being held in a new location this year – and promises to be bigger and better than in years past. Find all the details on the event’s official website.
The small village of Beek, where we were staying, is basically a suburb to Nijmegen. The population of 3,500 live in red brick homes that fan out from the center where there is a grocery store, butchery, bakery, pharmacy and a post office. When we saw signs for the local Christmas Market, we weren’t going to miss it.
Tables under tents, rather than wooden huts, surrounded the perimeter of a small parking lot and a round bar was set up in the center. A band played from the stage at the far end – until it was time for raffle prizes when Santa and his helpers would take the mic.
The food options – slow-cooked chicken satay and salmon with cucumber salad – were not particularly traditional, but definitely delicious. The market was a small, but festive affair – as the evening progressed and the bar got busier, even Santa hit the dance floor.
An Italian Christmas Market in Beek, Netherlands
Since our visit, we have caught wind of a new Christmas market in Beek: the Bellissimo Beek Italian Christmas Event. The one-day holiday event is free to visitors and features Italian products, food and drink. Find the details here.
Kerst op de Grote Markt Nijmegen
Of the three markets we attended, the one in Nijmegen’s central square, Grote Markt, was by far the most picturesque. Surrounded by historic buildings under the glow of the church bell tower, wooden huts clustered together around a giant Christmas tree. The gluhwein was hot and the stroopwafels (caramel and wafer cookies) were warm. A small fire was burning in a wood stove and a woman played holiday tunes on a piano.
Unfortunately, it was awkwardly vacant of crowds – and we have learned that the festival may not take place this year. Check the city’s tourism website for updates.
Try These Nijmegen Christmas Markets Instead
Because we fear the Christmas Market in Nijmegen may no longer be held in the city center, we scoured the internet for other nearby Christmas fairs.
Feest van Licht
The annual Feast of Light festival takes place southeast of the city center in Museumpark Orientalis. The Christmas market features one of the largest Nativity scenes in Europe. There are also organized crafts and kid’s programs on the agenda. Find out more and buy your tickets in advance on the official website.
De Vincentius Verenging Nijmegen Christmas Market
Located west of the city center, the one-day Kerstmarkt will feature multiple booths, music, kid’s activities and an appearance of Santa Claus. And, it’s free! Find out more here.
We want to know: Have you visited Christmas Markets near Nijmegen? What kind of Christmas Markets get you in the holiday spirit? Where would you recommend spending Christmastime In Europe? Tell us in the comments!
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