Kerstmarkt means Christmas market in Dutch, and on Fridays and Saturdays from mid-November through mid-December, downtown Holland hosts a New World version of this beloved European tradition.
We found the market small—only a couple dozen open-air wooden booths—and not terribly Dutch. Disappointing in a town where Dutch baked goods, cheeses and candies are sold at every grocery store and in the only place in the United States to find authentic delftware and wooden shoe factories. Once past the fact that this isn’t really a true Dutch market, many visitors find it fun and enjoyable. Most vendors are local artists selling unique handmade gifts like evergreen wreaths and garlands, wooden toys, woven rag rugs, jewelry, glass-blown ornaments and home decor. Our favorite booths included the handcrafted wooden pull-toys at Wooden Toys and Boxes; Thurlow's Glass tree ornaments; Holland Bowl Mill’s beautiful bowls made from single pieces of hardwood; and DogWood Farm, a local goat cheese producer who turns her surplus milk into soaps.
If you get hungry, we recommend stopping by the United Methodist Church booth and filling up on Dutch pigs-in-the-blanket, mettwurst and traditional pea soup (non-Dutch treats include white chicken chili and hot dogs). A warming tent nearby offers a weatherproof place to enjoy your purchases; the market's Amish bakery is another good stop for bread, cookies, jams and pickles to take home.