The underground Christmas market

Photos by Kerststad Valkenburg

Maybe this is your first Christmas market season in Germany or maybe you feel like you’ve visited every one you can handle. What if I told you about one that is underground? When I say underground I don’t mean it’s a secret. I mean it is literally in caves!

About six weeks before Christmas, the small Dutch town of Valkenburg, Netherlands, transforms its famous Velvet Caves called “Fluweelengrot” into a Christmas market and Santa’s residence. These passageways date back to the 12th century and are directly below the remains of the city’s castle. They are lined with lights and decorations where you can shop at various stalls offering unique handmade crafts and traditional holiday food.

It is the oldest, largest and most visited underground Christmas market in Europe. In 2015, CNN’s website named Valkenburg one of fifteen top places to visit for the Christmas season. The Huffington Post United Kingdom’s online travel section named Valkenburg one of nine totally unique Christmas markets, as well.

Now in its 38th year, visitors can enjoy galleries and sculptures while listening to the echoing voices of carol singers below the famous Cauberg hill. Strolling through the caves, you might catch a glimpse of the many beautiful murals lining the walls. The Velvet Caves are home to sculptures dating back to Roman times. There is even an 18th century chapel. You’ll be able to create your own souvenire made from marlstone, or you can take a cable care ride to the Wilhelmina tower where there is a small culinary Christmas market, toboggan run and mini golf.

If you’re just a window shopper, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy. Within the caves are informative tales about marlstone and the history behind the sculptures.

When you’re in need of some fresh air, there are a variety of activities above ground including Santa’s Village with original wooden chalets where you can buy Christmas accessories and gifts or enjoy hot waffles, crepes, hot chocolate, and mulled wine. From November 18. until Dec. 30 there is a Christmas parade every Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the historic town center.

Kids will enjoy the Fairytale Forest, where they can meet the forest’s inhabitants and go on different rides. Admission varies by season and day.

For more information please visit their website at

If you’re more interested in wine and food tasting, don’t miss out on the Route D’Amuse. This walk takes you through Valkenburg, all while enjoying delicious food from fi ve renowned restaurants. Cost is €11.95 per person.

Information for the walk is available on their website at

Valkenburg is the perfect option for a day trip. The drive is about three hours from the KMC area. The Christmas market is open from Nov. 17. until Jan. 7. Admission:

  • Adults (>12 years) : €9
  • Children (5-11 years): €5
  • Children (0-4 years): free

Tickets are only available online.

For more information please visit

Dogs are not permitted during the Christmas market, with the exception of guide or assistance dogs. The entire trail is wheelchair accessible. All proceeds benefit Foundation Valkenburg Castle.