TRAVEL: Winter in Maastricht

MBCH Maastricht 1
MBCH Maastricht 1
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Winter in Maastricht means endless fun

From Friday, December 2 to Sunday, January 8, 2012, the historical Dutch city centre of Maastricht will be enjoying the holiday season. Beautifully lit streets will link the various squares of Maastricht.

MBCH Maastricht 2

MBCH Maastricht 2

Christmas spirit and winter fun will abound on Vrijthof square: a large skating rink and until Sunday, January 1 a lively Christmas Market, a carousel and a big wheel will be at the centre of the action in Magical Maastricht.

The Magical Culture Festival will bring you many very special moments at various beautiful locations in the city centre. The shopping Sundays and beautifully decorated shop-windows form the perfect background for endless shopping fun, and the many restaurants and cafés spread around Maastricht will be ready and waiting to give you a taste of the culinary magic of Maastricht.

This year, Maastricht will once again prove itself to be a unique Christmas destination that knows how to enchant young and old alike.

Culture aficionados will find plenty to interest them this winter in Maastricht. The streets, squares, cafés and museums will be filled with a variety of fascinating performances and expositions.

MBCH Maastricht 3

MBCH Maastricht 3

Church bells and carillons, (children’s) choirs, percussion groups, theatre groups, brass bands, exciting stories and infectious (street) theatre performances in special places will surprise and delight visitors and residents of Maastricht alike and add to the magical atmosphere! And you can also enjoy the artistic side of Christmas during the free Christmas art tours in the Bonnefanten Museum and the various other museums located in Maastricht.

Under the slogan “Then, here & now!” Christmas songs covered with dust will be dusted off again and rearranged in honour of the Christmas tradition. And as if that were not enough, there will even be a city race participated in by real Santa Clauses, the school of music will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, and the buzzing mechatronic birds of the Humming Bird installation will be pecking against the traditional city clocks with their wooden beaks. In short, there’s something for everybody!

In December, the entire city will be spectacularly transformed into a winter wonderland. Young and old can have fun on the 800 m2 skating rink on the Vrijthof, the Netherlands’ most beautiful square! You can admire the skyline from a breathtaking height on the Ferris wheel and there’s a grand merry-goround for the little ones.

Stroll around the Christmas Market looking for an original Christmas present and allow yourself to be surprised by one of the many musical and cultural performances in the atmospheric Vrijthof Pavilion.

MBCH Maastricht 4

MBCH Maastricht 4

And once you’re ready to sit back and give your feet a rest, find a seat on one of the heated Christmas café terraces with a view of the majestic Sint Servaas Basiliek (Basilica of St Servatius) and the Sint Janskerk (Church of St John), and enjoy one of the many winter specialties such as “oliebollen” (deep-fried doughnuts), hot chocolate with whipped cream or, of course, mulled wine.

Opening hours Magical Maastricht Vrijthof

Skating rink (800m²): 2/12/2011 to 8/1/2012

Daily from 10 AM to 10 PM

MBCH Maastricht 5

MBCH Maastricht 5

On 24 December and 31 December 2011: open until 6 PM

Carousel / Big wheel: 2/12/2011 to 1/1/2012

Mon - Fri: 11 AM - 10 PM

Sat -Sun: 10 AM - 10 PM

On 24 December and 31 December 2011: open until 6 PM

Vrijthof Pavilion: 2/12/2011 to 8/1/2012

Daily from 10 AM until (at least) 11 PM

On 24 December: open until 6 PM

Christmas Market: 2/12/2011 to 1/1/2012

Mon - Thu: 11 AM - 9 PM

Fri - Sat: 10 AM - 10 PM

Sun: noon - 6 PM

On 24 December: open until 6 PM. Closed on 25 December (first day of Christmas), 26 December 2011 (second day of Christmas) and 1 January 2012 (New Year’s Day). Other winter entertainment facilities, cafés and restaurants on the Vrijthof square will be open on these days.

If you are looking for the ultimate Christmas gift, special decorations, delicious and authentic ingredients for the Christmas dinner, or a spectacular holiday outfit? Maastricht is living up to its title of the country’s best shopping city!

The city centre will transform into a fantastic backdrop of lights, Christmas decorations, and all sorts of festive activities. The shops will be open late in November and December, and their windows will display their tempting winter collections.

Besides the many original boutiques, authentic specialty shops and well known (fashion) chains, you can also visit the beautifully laid out Christmas Market on the Vrijthof square for those indispensable Christmas gift items. And of course, there’s an abundance of cosy cafés and restaurants where you can kick back and warm your hands over a delicious glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate.

Shop till you drop

Every Sunday (except for 25 December) in November and December is a shopping Sunday, and the shops in the city centre will be open from 12 PM. From 20 to 23 December (incl.), in connection with Christmas, extra shopping evenings will be scheduled and the shops will be open until 9 PM.

Attention: On Sunday 25 December (first Day of Christmas), 26 December 2011 (second day of Christmas) and Sunday 1 January 2012 (New Year), the shops in Maastricht will be closed. Sunday 8 January is a shopping Sunday in Maastricht, and the shops in the centre will be open from 12 PM.

Overview opening hours for shops

Shopping Sundays: open from 12:00 noon.

6, 13, 20, and 27 Nov; 4, 11, and 18 Dec 2011; and 8 Jan. 2012

Shopping Evenings: open until 9:00 p.m.

Every Thursday, as well as on 20, 21, 22 and 23 December 2011

Closed on:

25 December (Christmas Day), 26 December 2011(Boxing Day) and 1 January 2012 (New Year’s Day).

Would you like to discover the special winter magic of Maastricht? Then follow the Magical Light Route* on foot to experience the breathtaking light spectacle of the city and discover the many shining stars of Maastricht.

Next to the main railway station, you can admire the 10m-tall Christmas tree made especially for this occasion, and the “Plein 1992” Square as well as the main Market Square and Mosae Forum will be lit up, during these dark wintry days, by fantastic chandeliers and the “Hoge Brug” (High Bridge) will illuminate a beautiful path over the Meuse River against the night sky.

And the breathtaking augmented reality lighting animation created by the more than 200 special mistletoes decorating the tree on the Onze Lieve Vrouweplein square will create a magic moment of reflection and light. Finally, you can light up your own star in the chapel named after “Onze Lieve Vrouw Sterre der Zee” (Our Lady, Star of the Sea).

SMS Christmas tree for Ronald McDonald House Maastricht

During December, the Mosae Forum shopping centre will be lit up by a very special SMS Christmas tree. By sending an SMS, you not only change the colour of the LED lighting on the tree, but also make a contribution to the Ronald McDonald House Maastricht.

The atmospheric lighting in the city centre will be lit up for the first time during the triumphal entry of Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) into Maastricht on Saturday, November 12.

Allow yourself to be surprised by the many culinary stars shining in the gastronomic capital Maastricht. Restaurants with a range of tastes in special locations offer unique (Christmas) menus. You can simply walk around the city to explore the many culinary secrets Maastricht has to offer, ranging from special delicatessen shops to delicious local products and specialties.

Magical environs

The area has so much more! Go on board the completely decorated fleet operated by Rederij Stiphout (Photo) and enjoy a cruise over the Meuse, which you are also free to combine with a visit to the caves under Sint Pietersberg hill or a tour of the city. Discover Maastricht and its many treasures all over again during a special Christmas walking excursion led by a city guide supplied by VVV Maastricht.

And what about guaranteed fun in the snow at SnowWorld Landgraaf, the breathtaking skating spectacular offered by Holiday on Ice in MECC Maastricht, the winter animals at the GaiaPark Kerkrade Zoo, or a delightful ride on the steam train of the Miljoenenlijn (Million Line)?

You can also visit one of the atmospheric Christmas markets in the surrounding region (e.g. Valkenburg, Aachen and Liège) or completely indulge yourself and relax to the fullest at Thermae 2OOO! Magical Maastricht has much too much to offer for a single day! So an overnight stay is always a great idea.

The beautifully lit city route, great Christmas concerts, a wide variety of restaurants and local cafés, theatre in the winter, endless shopping opportunities and special exhibitions: Magical Maastricht can simply not be experienced in a single day! So an overnight stay is always a good idea.

Enjoy an overnight winter stay in one of the many special accommodation opportunities available in the city, and wake up slowly in magical Maastricht…

You can book a package with whichever number of stars you wish via www.magicalmaastricht.nl