Christmas in Groningen: Make the Most of Your December
Christmas is all around: under the crisp winter air the lights are shining, the trees are going up and, most importantly, there are loads of events coming up for you to share the Christmas spirit with your friends. Whether you’re on a budget or getting ready to spend that Christmas money, I’ve rounded up some of the best holiday events for internationals and locals in Groningen.
The Christmas Markets
We’re not quite in the Christmas capital of Germany, but the Dutch do Christmas markets pretty well themselves. The city is filled with markets with all sorts of themes, so you’ll be sure to find something perfect for you.
The biggest and brightest is the Kerstmarkt Groningen, which runs from the 8th until the 23rd of December in the Hooge der A, one of the quaintest streets in the city centre next to the canal. This is one of the more typical Christmas markets; expect decorations, cute gifts and some typical Dutch winter treats. Super cute!
If you’re looking for something a bit more unusual, you should check out the Vegan Christmas Market at EM2. As the name suggests, there will be plenty of plant-based comfort food, think vegan hot chocolate, cheese and cakes, but the event, ran by The Green Shift is more than just that. Everything sold there is plant-based, fair and sustainable, so the perfect place to merge your christmas shopping with your conscience. Taking place on the 23rd of December, it will be great for some last-minute shopping.
Maybe the German markets are the most famous, but that doesn’t mean they’re the be all and end all. Inspired by the adorable tradition of the Festival of Saint Lucia is the Swedish Christmas Market of Groningen on the 8th of December. Alongside the usual gifts and food is some awesome live music and entertainment to put you in the cozy mood.
For sure, December isn’t the cheapest month and maybe you’re on the search for the Christmas spirit on a bit more of a budget. In that case, Achterwerk’s Christmas market is for you. Combining the best of second hand; vintage clothes, closet sales and kilo sales, with mulled wine and christmas music, you can find some cute hipster clothes for all the Chrismas parties coming up, or sweet, unique gifts for the special people in your life. And if you’re looking to clear out your room before all season of giving, you can even apply for your own stall.
What’s Christmas without drinking too much mulled wine, wearing an ugly jumper and dancing to the best old-school tunes with your mates? Groningen is nothing if not party city and nothing changes at Christmas, so get out your diaries, gather a group and prepare to dance.
Who doesn’t love an office Christmas party? Unfortunately, most of us internationals aren’t working, but DOT is bringing the vibes to everyone with their Big Christmas Ball on the 21st of December. A day event, there will be students and families alike coming together to the best of the Christmas tunes.
Looking for an excuse to get out your sparkly dress or smart suit? Look no further than the Student Hotel’s Masquerade Ball. On the 8th of December, internationals of Groningen are going to be dressed in their finery to dance the night away together. And the masked element adds a bit of mystery: ‘A Cinderella Story’ vibes.
In the midsts of the frozen roads and hats and scarfs, maybe you’re on the search for a bit of heat? To bring the exotic vibes comes Zoete Zin’s Tropical Christmas at the Huize Maas on the 15th of December. The best of Caribbean and Latin American bangers will be sure to get you on your feet.
The Cultural Events
More than just food and wine, Christmas is a time for enjoying some of the best cultural entertainment of the year.
A classic is the Nutcracker, which is performing in the Martiniplaza on the 29th of December. Follow the beautiful seasonal tale of Clara, her prince and the Mouse King, all played out in the most iconic ballet and incredible music.
For an even more traditional Christmas performance, on the 15th of December you can gather in the A Kerk with the Luthers Bach Ensemble for a night of choir singing ranging from Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria in D’ all the way to more well-known festival classics such as ‘O Jerusalem Süss’. Be prepared for some real festive feelings and cozy atmosphere.
The Winter Sports
Legend has it that the Dutch are so in love with ice-skating that they even skate to work. Maybe I’m just not integrated enough, but that sounds like an awfully dangerous idea to me… good job that Groningen on Ice is back this year from the 22nd of November until the 6th of January. Every winter the Grote Markt is transformed into a cute ice rink where Groningers can come together to skate around (or fall flat on their arses). Definitely not to be missed!
The one thing the Netherlands is lacking in is mountains, or in fact any form of slopes. This can be a real shame for us internationals in winter, so the ESN are organising a trip to the indoor ski slope in Bottrop so you can get your fix of winter sports for the season. The longest indoor skiing slope in the world, you can for sure make the most out of this one day trip.