Get involved

The winter holiday guide to Groningen

Christmas is here, and Mariah Carey is personally taking our stereos hostage. The cold months ahead are buffered by the joy of the holiday to come. We’re entering a new decade, a fifth of a century. And where better to celebrate than the “Metropolis of the North”.

Groningen has collectively filled the following few weeks with Christmas events, venues, and celebrations. Strap in, pour a cup of cinnamon tea, get your calendars ready and don’t let the cold winds disparage you from feeling the warmth of the holiday cheer.



1. Grote Markt Winterfestival


The central market has once again become a hallmark of festivities, and the ice-skating rink is back for the new season. Don’t let travel plans dissuade you from visiting. For the first time in years, the ice-skating rink is in an open space, with more attractions peppering the market. The Grote Markt Winterfestival has been open since November 22nd and will continue to operate until January 5th

The Dutch were the first to adopt the tradition and sport of ice skating. It has since been a staple of any worthwhile winter festival, and during this event’s course, competitions and skating lessons will continue to keep the festival interactive.


2. Kerstmarkt Groningen (Markets)

The Martinikerk is opening its doors on Saturday 14th December. The symbolic site of all of Groningen will be organizing a traditional atmosphere for a super cosy Christmas Market. The market has said to be hosting a Christmas choir and even the real Santa Claus.

Apart from just one market, Groningen has worked hard to bring Christmas all over the city. December 12-14th brings the Christmas Market in Northeast in Winsummerweg selling handmade presents and offering hot drinks.

December 13th unveils a Fairy-tale Christmas market in Helpman, providing an immersive winter-world of wonder in Groenesteinlaan.

December 13-15th continues a traditional market in the Oosterparkwijk, offering an upgraded three-day festival in the heart of the city.

More Christmas markets are soon following along all throughout the week after, and a mountain of presents are waiting to be sold from the bustling city craftsmanship.


3. DOT Christmas Gala

Our famous Christmas ornament will undoubtedly flare its lights throughout the month of December in the preparation of their own Christmas party. The Gala opens for a full day of holiday-themed celebrations. The famous Groningen meeting centre and gastropub will kick off their Christmas ball on the evening of Friday, December 20th. Their star DJ team will play throughout the night, sounding out classic Christmas hits like… oh no, you bet it’s Mariah Carey!

The Dot building is famous for being the biggest Christmas ball in the world. The large venue calls out for people to join, and to invite their friends, family, and colleagues.


4. WinterWelVaart

The most proactively immortalized festival of the year is back at it again. A festival of ships, artist exhibitions, and musical acts, this year the WinterWelVaart runs through December 20-22nd and is inclusive to most audiences. WinterWelVaart shows the best cultural representation that Groningen has to offer, working together with artists and prominent city museums.

If you love festively decorated ships, beautiful art exhibitions, this is the best event to enjoy right before Christmas eve. 


5. Eurosonic Groningen

Just as this year ends, 2020 starts up with a bang. Festival tickets are on sale with a number of performances (300 acts, in fact!) already scheduled for the three-day event on January 15-17th. The ESNS festival is a must-see for anyone who wants to experience the quality of professional European musical artists. During the first three days of the ESNS festival, European talent takes the stage in more than 30 venues in the city centre of Groningen. Choose which tickets fit best with you, and be sure to get in before the tickets sell out.

The 2020 musical line-up is already online, and a mix of a variety of genres will be on full display. The festival is the best place to be first to experience new and up-and-coming talent.


Enjoy your holidays in the magical northern star-child of the Netherlands, and Groningen won’t disappoint. The snow might not have arrived yet, but the city spirit exceeds all expectations.


Written by Jānis Lazda – PR & Graphics committee