The other weekend, Utrecht was overflowing with kerstmarkten (Christmas markets). Mariaplaats, Twijnstraat, Domplein, Stadhuis, and other winter festivities at Neude were among the offerings and fortunately the weather cooperated. It was a gorgeous sunny winter day. The Domplein was the newest addition to the kerstmarkt scene, and having seen some photos on Twitter, that was our fist stop on our kerstmarkt tour.
Although relatively small in offerings, there was a nice mix of stylish wooden stalls and tented tables, as well as two merry-go-rounds. One was a swing type for children, while the other slowly turning one was decked out with tables and chairs to enjoy a panoramic view of the square while you enjoyed some gluhwein (mulled/spiced wine), coffee, hot chocolate, and snacks.
Among the food and snacks seemed to be freshly smoked salmon. The salmon was on wood (cedar?) planks, held in place by metal clasps and stuck above a small fire pit (center left in the photo below). Picturesque and mouth watering, all at the same time!
There were various vendors there selling everything from Christmas trees and decorations — I finally bought one of the paper stars I’ve been wanting for the past few years — and other gift items, many of which were handmade. As I said, it was a small selection, but definitely a nice mixture of items and in a great setting. I hope they continue to do a kerstmarkt in the Domplein.
There was also some entertainment on hand, including storytelling, donkey rides, and a bouncy “snow globe” for kids. The snow globe features a picture of Utrecht taken by the talented artist behind the Donker Utrecht photos. (He had a stall at the Stadhuis kerstmarkt.) It was kind of nice to be able to get a photo of the globe with the Domtoren standing out, right in front of the actual Domtoren.
After the Domplein, we headed to Twijnstraat, the traditional kerstmarkt site. We always get some gluhwein when we’re there and this was no exception. It was fairly crowded and I didn’t get any photos of the actual market, though I did get some photos along the Oudegracht, where we paused to enjoy the scenery and drink our gluhwein, as is our custom.
After Twijnstraat, we headed over to the Stadhuis (city hall) to see the market there. It was a new market site last year and was a lot of fun. I think it might have been a bit smaller this year, perhaps because of the addition of the Domplein market. Still, it was a festive spot, and it even had a ferris wheel!
The poffertje van was back (literally a small car/van turned into a mobile poffertje making stall), but we had plans to get poffertjes at Neude, so we just did a quick look around and enjoyed the band that happened to be playing Christmas tunes as we arrived.
As we stood listening to the music, I suddenly realized that the trumpet player looked a bit familiar. Turns out it was Robert, the photographer behind the Kat in de Stad books! (I edited the English version of the recent Amsterdam edition.)
Utrecht’s markets may not be as massive and famous as some of the ones in other cities and countries, but they’re still a lot of fun. I’m so glad we got to get out and enjoy a nice afternoon in the city. With work and me currently suffering my second bad cold in the past month, we haven’t really gotten into the festive spirit this year, not even putting up the tree. But visiting the markets makes me feel like I got to enjoy a bit of the special celebrations.
I hope you and your loved ones have a happy holiday season, no matter where you are or what festivities you celebrate.