If you are in Amsterdam during the festive season you will first see a whole lot of Sinterklaas decoration followed by a whole lot of Christmas decoration, with the occasional Oliebollenkraam popping up throughout the whole of December, cheering up random roundabouts and squares. The city sparkles, and she asks only one thing in return; for you to sparkle along.

December 24 at 20.00 and 22.00, Noordermarkt 48
A tradition for many “Amsterdammers”; singing carols at the Noorderkerk on Christmas Eve. The church is open to all and offers two services for one hour each. Be sure to come early because you will not be alone.

December 31, various locations
Amsterdam gets a little hectic on New Year’s Eve. At midnight, everyone lights fireworks, and every street is filled with people embracing while clenching a glass of cheap champagne and a sparkler and simultaneously trying to avoid a rocket that was lit by the neighbors 14-year-old slightly delinquent son. There are also more professional displays of firework; good locations for watching are The Magere Brug that offers a view of the Amstel, the Nieuwmarkt, and the Oosterdok, where the official countdown will be held. There are numerous clubs and parties, but be sure to buy tickets in advance.

Mosveld 113
Winner of the best oliebollen from Amsterdam, according to the readers of The Parool last year. The oliebol, fried dough served with or without sugar and dried raisins, is a Dutch New Year’s Eve treat. Moms all over the country spend the 31sth baking them in their kitchen, and people with smart moms who refuse to do so line up early in the morning in front of the brilliantly lit oliebollenkramen. Warm, puffy, and slightly crisp on the outside, they are worth making a little detour to Noord for.

De Clercqstraat 56
Because every day in December is a good day for Champagne. Inspired by a tremendously popular Cava bar in the streets of Barcelona, five epicureans decided to do the same in Amsterdam. Choose Cava, Champagne or Cocktails, and leave the beers for January. A menu of carefully selected tapas will make the bubbles taste even better.