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Weekend Tips: Friday, December 13 - Sunday, December 15

As you enter and leave the school in the dark, remember that there is only one more week before the Winter Break. For many of you, there is maybe one full weekend left before you go home to be with your families for the Holidays. In case you are still looking for some authentic Dutch presents, the Zaansche Schans has some wonderful items to finish off your Holiday shopping (i.e. wooden shoes, Delftware Christmas decorations and cheese). And, as mentioned in earlier tips, the Christmas Markets. Maastricht, Valkenburg, Brugge, Antwerpen are all within driving distance from Wassenaar. The weekend of December 13 to December 15 the largest Christmas Market in The Netherlands is held in Dordrecht, which is a beautiful, medieval city just 30 minutes away from Wassenaar. Again, just like with the other activities, public transport is your best friend.

December is the month of "planning", so many activities take place during this month and it is hard to choose. I will list the ones from this weekend and from the next weekends to come. Some of these events need reservations, therefore I mention them already earlier. For the upcoming weeks in The Netherlands, we can enjoy concerts, ballets, circus and other events listed in the last four weekend tips - you can check the previous issues of Weekend Tips on the website, but in case you need a few more ideas for the weekends to come, here are few extra events below. If you are planning on staying in the Netherlands please be aware of the two Christmas Days we celebrate. It starts with Christmas Eve on Tuesday, December 24. Most stores will close around 17:00 - 18:00 that evening. Churches will have evening or midnight Christmas services, if you are looking for an "ecumenical service", the Pieterskerk in Leiden offers several services. First Christmas day is December 25, a day the Dutch will be with their families and celebrate Christmas together and Second Christmas day -in the UK known as "Boxing Day"- is celebrated December 26. This day is the day most Dutch families will enjoy a show, going out for dinner or -since the last couple of years- go out shopping. Please check the opening times at your stores. They are usually posted at the doors. This year Hanukkah will be celebrated from December 22-30.

Until January 19, 2020, you and your family can enjoy the Cool Event in Scheveningen. A skating rink can be found in front of the Kurhaus, skates can be rented at the place itself. In Amsterdam you can skate on the Museumplein with the Rijksmuseum as your background! And if you do not skate but enjoy watching ice sculptures, Zwolle is the place to be. Annually, the ice sculpture event takes place in the IJsselhallen, a great visit for the entire family. This event will be open to the public until March 1st, 2020.

On Friday, December 13, the city of Gouda welcomes you for "Gouda by Candlelight". All of the electrical lights are switched off that night, candles are lit in house windows and the lights in the Christmas Tree illuminate the City Hall. It is magnificent to walk through this picturesque town, all lit up by candlelight. If you decide to visit Gouda, please take public transport as the train or bus will take you directly to the center of Gouda. Literally thousands of people will be there.

Don't forget the famous Dickens Festival, which takes place only once a year in Deventer on Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15, from 11:00 - 17:00. During this festival, over 900 characters that feature in the famous books by the 19th-century British writer Charles Dickens come to life. Come and meet Scrooge, Oliver Twist, Mr. Pickwick, Christmas carolers, orphans, drunks, office clerks and the upper class. Enjoy the aromas of English punch and roasted chestnuts, thousands of fairy lights and tall Christmas trees. The Dickens Festival fills the whole center of Deventer with the heartwarming ambience of Christmas. Every year, there’s a market on the main square with 200 stands. The Christmas ambience continues in the churches in the city center with a cultural program. Different choirs, orchestra and vocal ensembles perform Christmas music. Not only in the street, but also behind the windows, in the houses and in the little shops and galleries the romantic time of Dickens will revive. During the Dickens Festival in December, the shops are open on Saturday and Sunday. Well over 160,000 people come to this festival annually. Admission is free, so be prepared for queues at the entrance, and public transportation (train) is the way to go.

If you enjoy the Efteling Fairy Tale Park during the summertime, be sure to take the opportunity to visit this park in the winter. The "Winter Efteling" is open daily between 11:00 - 20:00. This park is wonderful for young children as well as for the older ones. The Efteling, every Dutch person knows about this wonderful place, is located to our south, near Tilburg.

If you are looking for a show to see with your family, "The Dutch Don't Dance" is a great dance company and from Tuesday, December 25, through Friday, December 28, they are performing "A Christmas Carol" in the Zuiderstrandtheater in The Hague. You might check out some of the event calendars, listed with The Hague Uitburo and the Amsterdam Uit Buro. Click on "December" to see upcoming activities.

Have a great weekend. I hope you'll take advantage of visiting Gouda, Deventer and Dordrecht during this festive time of the year! The last tips for 2019 will be posted next week, just in time before the Holiday Season starts. And last, but not least, a message for our HS students: good luck with your mid-term exams!

Have a good weekend,
Bernie Eek-Yarnell
University preparatory program for ages 3-18. Accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges - Commission on International Education (NEASC-CIE), following the personalized ACE Learning pathway of NEASC-CIE.

American School of The Hague