Christmas Market and Parade in Valkenburg aan de Geul

Christmas Market and Parade in Valkenburg aan de Geul
The Dutch city of Valkenburg aan de Geul is known for its unique Christmas markets held in local caves (to be more precise, in former marl quarries) and a spectacular Christmas parade. The Christmas season in Valkenburg is known as Kerststad Valkenburg (Christmas Town Valkenburg), it is a collaboration that involves seven unique festive activities that attract thousands of locals and tourists.

Valkenburg’s former marl quarries, locally called caves although they are man-made, are one of the city’s major tourist attractions. They offer guided tours, and during the Christmas season some of the caverns hosts widely known Christmas markets. Valkenburg’s major Christmas markets are held in the Municipal Cave (Gemeentegrot) and the Velvet Cave (Fluweelengrot).

The Municipal Cave Christmas Market is arguably the oldest, largest and most visited underground Christmas market in Europe. It amazes visitors with its stunning setting and beautiful Christmas décor. Numerous stalls and booths located in the cave’s long and spacious galleries offer Christmas gifts and souvenirs, handicrafts made by local artisans, Christmas treats, and more.

The Velvet Cave Christmas Market is cosier, although it is still quite large and has over 50 stalls and shops which offer Christmas decorations and gifts, antiques, and traditional holiday foods. The Velvet Cave is more than just a market venue, its a real underground museum featuring sculptures, mural paintings and a unique 18th century chapel.

At Valkenburg’s Christmas markets, you can buy tiny Christmas trees, Christmas decorations and garlands, exquisite nativity figurines, handicrafts made of wood, clay and glass, and even flower bulbs (which are not a traditional Christmas good, but it’s the Netherlands, after all). Food stalls offer delicious treats such as sausages, gingerbread, roasted almonds, marzipan, Christmas cookies, kerststol (Dutch Christmas bread), mulled wine, etc.

Another major attraction that draws thousands of people to Valkenburg during Christmastime is the magical Christmas Parade. The parade isn’t a one-time event. It is held every Wednesday and Saturday from mid-November to late December. Several dozen dancers in beautiful costumes and decorated floats advance through the city center, accompanied by specially composed Christmas songs.

Other events and activities that take place during Kerststad Valkenburg include special film screenings, Route d’Amuse (a gastronomic tour featuring 5 renowned catering establishments), a special underground event at the Museum Roman Catacombs, the Fairytale Forest, Santa’s Village, and more.


Photo by clesage1




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