Maastricht Christmas Market
Every time we head to Maastricht we learn more about the city that charms us. This year we headed into the city to check out the Magical Maastricht Christmas Market.
The entire city center is decked out in lights. The days are short and typically grey so the lights on the street make everything feel more magical.
The Maastricht Christmas Market itself is quite small but packed with kid-friendly fun. It is not the sprawling markets we’ve come to expect from Germany, but it has all the elements we love on a smaller scale.
We were at the market early in the morning to avoid crowds. It’s more enjoyable when you can get the lay of the land and not worry about losing your kids. (Although we put them both in My Buddy Tags just in case we got separated.)
We loved that the market featured all the hallmarks of Christmas we’ve grown accustomed to in the U.S. There were lit fir trees everywhere, Santa statues and nativity scenes.
The only disappointment at the market was the quantity and quality of market stalls for shopping. There are a few vendors, all of whom were very nice. We didn’t see the hand made items that we’ve seen in Germany. Most stalls were food or Christmas decoration based.
However it was nice to have the booths at least be authentic sellers of fun products.
The Maastricht Market offered plenty of other entertainment though. We let the kids pick a ride they all wanted to do together. They opted for the little Santa Train.
We bypassed the ferris wheel because the kids weren’t that interested, but I’m sure you get great views of the city from the ride.
The Big Little went ice skating with Jeff as well. The Maastricht market has a decently sized rink with plenty of the skate guides to hold onto.
We initially bought a ticket for our Middle Little to skate as well but they do not have little kid double bladed skates. They are however available for purchase. He wasn’t that excited about skating and was happy to watch his big brother and dad skate around.
The Little Little was so cozy in his stroller that he fell asleep watching the skaters.
When the boys were done skating we warmed everyone up with a hot beverage. We had warm Chocomel (not to be confused with Hot Chocolate) for the kids and Gluhwein for the adults.
I got my Gluhwein in the market’s boot-shaped mug to add to my collection. Unlike in Germany where the mugs are compulsory and then you return them for your deposit back, here you have to specifically ask to purchase a mug.
Finally, my favorite part of the market. The Food! The market is small and has one or two vendors for each option but everything we tried was delicious. In Cologne last year the salmon was our absolute favorite.
The boys are huge bratwurst fans and needed to give one of those a try. Weirdly, the Big Little doesn’t like the bun.
I couldn’t eat these amazing potato pancakes fast enough. You have a choice of dipping options but the applesauce is my favorite. (We were still thinking of these when we got home, so we made our own from this New York Times recipe and they were also quite good.)
When we felt we had exhausted the Christmas Market festivities we walked a bit through Maastricht. This city is just full of beautiful finds. A walk along the old city walls is beautiful no matter what season.
Every time I’m in Maastricht I seem to just find great windows, doors and houses to photograph.
The kids all had to stop and climb up on the donkey statue hidden on a little road by the river. Judging from its shiny back this donkey spends most of its day carrying children.
We found lots of little nooks to explore in the city as well. Seriously just walk around this town and you’re sure to find something fun.
Finally, at 1pm, we headed to the Museum of Natural History just as it opened. The museum is part of the Museumkaart program and is perfect for kids.
The museum is small but hits all the high notes my kids enjoy. There were fish tanks, dinosaur bones, exhibits to crawl through and plenty of taxidermy animals.
The boys poured over the exhibits finding animals they know and seeing if they knew both the English and Dutch names.
They discovered a room that the Big Little deemed the “Care of Magical Creatures Classroom” from Harry Potter. He wanted us to have class! The kids had a seat and Jeff took on the role of teacher to tell them about all the wild animals in the room.
It’s amazing how much fun you can have with kids who have a huge imagination and a room full of animals in jars.
Another room had coloring for the kids. This was a great chance to take a little break and figure out what we wanted the rest of our day to look like. The temps were dropping outside and sunset comes early in the winter so we decided that after the museum we would walk back to our friends’ place.
We gathered our coats from the downstairs cloak room and lockers. We made sure everyone used the bathrooms, which are also located downstairs and headed out again into the cold.
The walk out of town is of course scenic. We opted to hug the old city walls. We had done this walk on our previous fall visit, but it takes on new charm in the winter.
We vividly remembered visiting this spot in the cold rain on our last visit.
We ended the visit by joining hoards of other children playing on the cannons guarding the city. There is also a playground to the left (when facing the city wall) of the cannons. We never even made it there though because we were enjoying the cannons too much!
When the kids started to get cold we loaded everyone up for the walk home and headed over one of the bridges across the river. The rest of our evening was spent enjoying a meal with friends and keeping warm inside.
We still have a few things we would like to see in the Maastricht area, so hopefully we will be back.