As I’m writing this, there are only a few days left to enjoy the Maastricht Christmas market, Magical Maastricht Vrijthof, which is open until 30 December. But If 2022 is any indication of where the city is going with this market, be sure to put Maastricht on your list of must-experience markets for next year.
This was the first time we’ve been back post-pandemic, and the upgrades are dramatic, making this our favorite Dutch market. Okay, that’s not saying much because the Dutch markets really don’t compare to the German markets in Cologne or even Aachen. But suddenly, Maastricht’s Christmas market is a destination, and a lot more of the food vendors are German this year. Which is a good thing because Germans rule the Christmas market biz.
The Maastricht market is still in the same location, Vrijthof Square where André Rieu holds his concerts each year. But everything else has changed including prices, now a bit higher than the German market right over the border in Aachen.
We had bacon flammkuchen for 10 euros. Not as big as we would’ve expected, but absolutely delicious. There were the salmon boards two guys were smoking over a wood fire. A too-small a portion was 10 euros, but worth every euro penny. Finally three reibekuchen were 8 euros for four instead of 4.50 in Germany. Mushrooms were also kinda’ pricey at 10 euros. The all important Glühwein was also more expensive at 6 euros rather than 4.50 at German markets (not counting the souvenir cup), but you know … it’s freezing cold, so who cares.
It cost us 8 euros per person for the Ferris wheel, but the views really were priceless. (See the featured photo.)
Those prices had to subsidize a lot of changes and upgrades including:
• a giant Ferris wheel with enclosed gondolas.
• a really big new skating rink, with room for hundreds of skaters. (Rental skates re 6 euros.) There’s also bridge over the rink representing the 13th century Sint-Servaasbrug bridge over the Maas, and where you can watch the action below. And of course there were video screens with ads for vacation rentals.
• light displays at stations set up for selfies.
• more upscale gifts and foods. New this year is the Regional Products Square, where more than 150 regional producers from Limburg province (which includes Maastricht) display curated products from the region.
Even the street in front of the market seemed brighter this year, and there actually are “Magical Light Routes” all through the city, of which the Vrijthof market is part. You can see them all here.
We’ve been going to the Maastricht Christmas market since at least 2016, and it’s never been one of our favorites even though the city itself is. Now, the market has the attractions to stand on its own, and the added walk, events, cafés and shopping make Maastricht itself worth a weekend trip at Christmas.
For 2022, Magical Maastricht Vrijthof is open Monday thru Thursday from 10 a.m. till midnight except for 26 December (Second Christmas in the Netherlands) when it closes at 6 p.m.
See more of our Christmas markets across Europe here in Dispatches’ archives.
Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.