Holland at Christmas time is like no other. Life is full of joy and celebration whether you’re walking downtown, visiting your favorite coffee shop, or attending a Christmas performance in Dimnent Chapel. There’s plenty of ways to get into the Christmas spirit here, but I want to talk about my top five aspects of life in Holland during this time of year!

Downtown Atmosphere

Downtown Holland is gorgeous all year long, but it quite literally shines at Christmastime. Up and down the main street, trees are covered in lights, and fire beams from the fireplace outside of Kilwin’s Ice Cream. There’s also a large Christmas tree in a plaza area right downtown. You’ll always find families or friends who have stopped in front of it to take pictures. Even if I’m not shopping, this is my favorite time of year to walk around downtown.

The famous Christmas tree downtown!


If you do choose to shop downtown during Christmas time, you’ll be delighted to find stores uniquely and beautifully decorated for the season. My personal favorites, Gezellig and Spring Sweet, are absolutely stunning this time of year. Downtown hosts a few “Shop ’til You Drop” holiday events where stores are discounted over the weekends. Many people from the Holland area come out and shop at that time, getting into the Christmas spirit as a community.

a Christmas display in my favorite downtown store, Gezellig


Another popular activity to do around this season in Holland is visiting Kerstmarkt. This is a Dutch-inspired Christmas market that takes place in the typical farmer’s market spot downtown. There are vendors selling food and crafts, and you might even get a chance to chat with the Dutch Santa!

Coffee Shops

Coffee shops are always one of my favorite places to frequent in Holland, and at Christmastime this sentiment only amplifies. My favorite coffee shop is Kin, which is about 10 minutes away from campus. If you stop by in December, you can decorate your own coffee cup ornament for their tree, order a special holiday drink, and make Christmas cards that they’ll mail for you.

At Hope

Last but certainly not least, various holiday events happen on campus at Hope that add to the festive atmosphere of the community. Vespers is a well-known Christmas concert that Hope’s music ensembles put on in Dimnent Chapel in a weekend typically near the beginning of December. People travel from all over the United States to come to Vespers every year, and the show typically sells out very quickly. Campus Ministries also puts on a special event called Lessons and Carols, which happens on the last Sunday night before exam week. Students all get dressed up and come together in Dimnent Chapel to sing carols, hear the Gospel, and celebrate semester’s end with their community at Hope.

A few friends and I at Lessons and Carols in Dimnent!

Wrapping it Up

All in all, there are many fun and festive activities to do in Holland during the Christmas season. Both on campus and off, Holland is my favorite place to be this time of year!

Published by Audrey Wells

Class of 2026 Hometown: Portage, MI Majors: Communications & Spanish Minor: Social Witness Ministry & Global Health

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