The clocks have turned back, and we are now excited for the Christmas season to begin here in Rotterdam. As the days get a little darker and the autumn leaves are falling, there are plenty of exciting activities and fune vents taking place, along with cosy bars to explore and festive shopping and markets. From ice skating rinks to museum exhibitions, find out what to see and where to go in Rotterdam this winter. And when the excitement of Christmas is over, we have the International Film Festival taking place in January. Get your skates on!
Getting in the festive spirit early here in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas(the Dutch Santa) arrives on 13th November, by boat, from Spain! This is the start of winter here in Rotterdam as the unmissable Sinterklaas intocht takes place in the city. Arriving in his boat all the way from the Iberian Peninsula,Sinterklaas docks along the quay at Willemsplein and then tours the city (with a horse, not with reindeer!) Expect lots of sweets including marzipan and the traditional pepernoten and presents in shoes for the children. His tour around the town ends at the square at Laurenskerk. Traditionally he leaves again on 6th December, but this is the day not to miss. You can go Dutch with the phrase ‘prettig sinterklaasfeest!’
There is nothing more festive than wrapping up warm and enjoying some ice-skating! There are several ice-skating rinks around the city for you to enjoy, but the biggest and best to showcase your dancing on ice skills is Schaatsbaan Rotterdam. There’s also a 400m tunnel for the professional skaters and a track of 1600 m2, including some glitzy rainbowlighting and fun for little ones. If you fancy yourself for some winter olmpics then have a go at curling, they have a Curlingbaan also from 4th November,where you can practice your brush work! If you’re visiting with kids, then check out the children friendly skating rink in Plaswijckpark for some fun on ice.
Remastered is the most exciting new experiential attraction in Rotterdam brings together installation art and digital tech to projectan immersive art world. This is a 60-minute experience that will have you meeting with the Dutch Masters under the New Master remix. Think of waterfalls oflights and sailing through the clouds, all illuminated with 60 state-of-the-artprojectors, 50 loudspeakers and Europe’s largest indoor LED screen. Walk through Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, slip into Van Gogh’s colourful scenes, and dance to Mondrian’s Victory Boogiewoogie. This unique experience is in Willemsplein and you can buy tickets from us at Hostel ROOM.
Enjoy browsing through the markets in Rotterdam with bric-a-brac, clothes,jewellery, and accessories.
A great place to find vintage items or inspirational gifts is The Swan Market, open Sunday 14th November and Sunday 19th December at Van Nelle Fabriek from 11am to 5pm. With live music, food trucks, and a variety of stalls there is always a buzzing atmosphere here where you can picnic on the benches or check out the market sellers.
Another vibrant market is the Oogstmarkt on Noordplein (Every Saturday 10am-5pm.) Here you can enjoy local producers selling everything from delicious baked treats to local chefs whipping up meals. Grab a coffee and enjoy the sights!
And for shopping around the town centre the shops are even open on Boxing Day!
Christmas Market Park Trompenburg
10th, 11th & 12th December
With a magical Christmas atmosphere, the botanical gardens are illuminated and filled with Christmas stalls for three festive days. Enjoy the atmosphere here and indulge yourself at the Tea House where they offer mulled wine, hot chocolate, soups, and other tasty winter treats from 10 AM to 4 PM.
Scandinavian Christmas market in Norwegian Church
11-14 November & 20-21 November 2021
A festive favourite if you’re visiting and love Christmas – you can enjoy the Scandinavian Christmas market here in Rotterdam for two weekends. The Norwegian Church hosts the Christmas market where you can find all kinds of handmade Christmas decorations and gifts, Norwegian culinary specialities and clothes and jewellery. If you’ve always wanted a Norwegian knit sweater then this is the place to come! The church is also truly beautiful inside so creates a lovely Christmas scene.
Enjoy the best view of the city bridges from the River Maas with the water taxi. It’s always fun to speed along, and the best way to get to the historic SS Rotterdam ship, the famous Hotel New York or Katendrecht, where the food lovers favourite the Fenix Food Factory is. The taxi also gives you the best views of the architectural iconic Erasmus Bridge and is the quickest way across. You can buy a single ticket for around 4 euros and they leave from Hotel New York, although you can also call them for a pick up from one of the 50 stops all over Rotterdam.
Counting down to the New Year means waiting for the biggest fireworks display of the year here in Rotterdam. Traditionally taking place on the Erasmus Bridge, the display can be seen all along the waterfrontand is not to be missed!
Rainy days give us the perfect time to enjoy a cultural trip to one of the city’s amazing museums. You don’t have to be an art aficionado to enjoy the exhibitions here, there really is something for everyone, from artsleepovers in the Kunsthal to intriguing objects.
From 9th of November the new Boijmans Depot in an iconic shiny building will open its doors to showcase 172 years of art collecting, with over 151,000 pieces! This is essentially not a museum but a storage of art, where you can see pieces from the huge collection and find out about restoration.
The famous Kunsthal has winter exhibitions including ‘Magnetic North’ until January and Drawn: Rotterdam! One-and-a-half-metre society from now until January 16th. Just next door in Museum Park you can get your science fix of biodiversity, conservation,and a history of the natural world at The National History Museum (half price for students.)
For photography fans then check out the Nederlands Foto Museum which has an inspiring collection of Dutch photography as wellas global exhibitions. With so many world-class collections you will be spoilt for choice!
Get cosy around Room’s Christmas Tree!
All that excitement got you wanting to sit in an armchair with a hot drink and your feet up? We have a chair for you! After a day of strolling in the city or skating about, come and get cosy with us in our Hostel ROOM lounge area and bar. Just after Sinterklaas we transform our venue into a winter treat, with festive hot gluhwein and of course our decorated Christmas tree. You can play “sjoelen” (a Dutchgame), table football, or stay for the long haul with some awesome board in our warm foyer – we have pizza and snacks to keep you going.
The cinematic feast that is the IFFR is one of the largest cultural events in the Netherlands, as well as one of the largest public film festivals in the world. This is a ‘must’ for movie lovers,with everything from the latest global feature films to home talent Dutch shorts. Expect a schedule packed with features, documentaries, short films, interactive performances and talks from industry experts, and cinematic exhibitions. Since the Film Festival began, it put Rotterdam on the map as an exciting global film capital. Grab your popcorn and get involved!
If you’re a cinephile then there are weekly events throughout the year, but the 12 days of the festival have an amazing buzz as the programme rolls out competition entries, and where art, new media and film are fused. De Doelen, the heart of the festival, is also a lively place to meet for drinks and snacks and there are live performances taking place there with debates and Q&As with filmmakers and actors. Each evening of the event ends with a thrilling party at the Theater Rotterdam Schouwburg.
We hope you enjoy the festive season here in Rotterdam, don’t forget to book your room with us!