A Winter wonderland in the Netherlands

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Opening this month on October 11th is a unique exhibition highlighting the impact of 19th century fashion on modern day designs as well as the many social implications a persons garb had in the era itself. There will be plenty of fascinating insights in to the era as a whole but the display itself will be a wonder. Familiar costumes from film and television adaptations such as Downton Abbey, Jane Eyre will be there for you to marvel at. It isn’t all counterfeits and costumes though. Some of these articles have been carefully restored to be put on display for the first time. If you would like to take a look back in to the clothing of the past then visit the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague. The exhibition is called Romantic Fashions: Mr Darcy meets Eline Vere open to the public up to 22 March 2015.

Your last chance to be a part of history is coming up. The festivities celebrating the two hundredth anniversary of Hollands independence after annexation by the French will be drawing to a close this November. The Prince of Orange’s originally returned on November 30th 1813 but wasn’t crowned as King Willem I until September 1815. To mark this period of time the Dutch have been celebrating for two years. The people of Holland are celebrating the development of their country over the last two centuries, how its democracy has evolved and the population changed. The Dutch will be championing themes such as ‘unity in diversity’, ‘stable governance’ and ‘international orientation.’

If you would like to get to the heart of this momentous occasion then the Soestdihk Palace is hosting the main exhibition. Soestdijk Palace is in Utrecht and was once the palace of the Dutch Royal Family. Opening hours between 9:30AM and 5:30PM.

Candle night, Gouda

Candle Night, ( Kaarsjesavond) this event is a massive candle service illuminating the city of Gouda. This occasion draws crowds in their thousands it is not just special to natives of Gouda. Candle Night is held on the Tuesday before Christmas at the central market square. All the lights are turned off at the Gothic town hall and all the residents and shop owners around the perimeter of the market square place candles in their window. If you are not a Dutch speaker then the Mayor’s speech may be a little lost on you but so long as you cheer once the big Christmas tree is lit at the end then we are sure no one will really mind.

This is a tradition that has been upheld for decades now. Gouda has been a candle making town since the mid 19th century. You may recognise the name from its famous waxy cheese as well. It is an ideal spot made all the more wondrous during the Christmas season with many a quaint walkway, small yet age old churches and Gothic architecture not to mention premium breweries to help spur on that festive cheer.

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Gouda is just an hour train ride from Amsterdam so suitable accommodation won’t be too difficult to find if you plan to make the journey westwards for Candle Night.

Christmas away from Britain will still have a distinctly English feel to it if you make the short trip to Deventer in Belgium with P&O Ferries. The Dickens Festival will be taking over the very heart of Holland at Deventer on December 20th and 21st. Entry is free to an anticipated crowd of up to 160,000 people.

For many, a Dickensian Christmas is the only way to spend the festive time of year. Expect good cheer and a warming setting though winter will truly be underway. Deventer’s Christmas Dickens Festival fills the entire town with over 900 of the 19th century author’s characters from the beloved to the villainous. It has a dramatic literary festival feel to it, you’ll be able to meet all the characters from the reformed Scrooge to the infamous Fagin.

There will be over 200 stands in the main market square, with the sound of choirs and orchestras in the background take a stroll to the scent of English punch (made the old fashioned way) and much on roast chestnuts with a bit of languorous bit of shopping thrown in for good measure.

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New Year’s Eve

So what are you doing for New Year’s? It’s an important question though time is certainly running out if you want to bring in the new year on the continent. Plan early if you want to make it to Amsterdam. As is the case in pretty much every major city on Earth the central squares will be unforgiving to late comers.

The tradition in the Netherlands, besides the customary dose of champagne, is to fill up on oliebollen a deep-fried dough filled with raisins, a wee bit greasy for sure but all the better to keep you steadfast for the long last night of 2014. In Amsterdam the midnight fireworks are best viewed with the atmosphere of the Chinese districts like

Niewmarkt and Dam Square one of the oldest and most important parts of the city.

For a handheld holiday or a wild nights partying take a P&O ferry to Rotterdam.

Image credit: Dennis Jarvis , LenDog64 , Kate Wellington

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