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November vs. December

Two countries I have not visited are the Netherlands and Belgium. I know that the weather in both countries in both November and December is less than ideal. But for those who have visited those countries--especially during those two months--I wonder whether there is a strong preference for travel in one of those two months rather than the other. It seems that November would be less crowded, less expensive, and not quite as cold. December offers Christmas, but does visiting then with the lights and Christmas markets detract from a more authentic experience of those countries?

Posted by
6437 posts

I've been through the Netherlands and Belgium both months.
I rang in the New Year at a club in Amsterdam 2018; it was funny to hear and see the countdown in Dutch.
There was an unforgettably beautifully decorated tree in Grand Place in Brussels one year I was there in December 2014.
I've gone to the Amsterdam Jazz Fest in November 2016.

So I would say if you can go some days late in December to experience the countries around the holidays that would be better.
The decorations don't detract.

But it may be a little more daylight and higher temp in November

Posted by
5 posts

I have been to both countries during this time frame multiple times. There is no doubt, it can be cold. Sometimes too cold to really enjoy, but mostly not as long as you have decent coat. However, I would definitely make sure you go during the Christmas markets. It will still be cold, but at least you are experiencing something special. Especially in Belgium. I'm not sure why you think the markets are not authentic and part of the experience of visiting. Visiting during the winter is very different than visiting during the summer. Both are good, just in different ways.

Posted by
706 posts

My two cents. I lived in Bonn, which is very near both the Netherlands and Belgium. November was always the WORST month of the year to me. From beautiful October, Daylight Savings seemingly overnight turned the days to short and gray on the last weekend of the month. December didn't make them any longer, but at least we had the festivities and lights of the Christmas season.

Posted by
5598 posts

I would go in December. It's authentic for them to celebrate Christmas in those countries! And November is gray and depressing (but, it's true, makes tucking into a restaurant, cafe, bar or museum all the more satisfying perhaps!!). And you are right that prices are probably a bit lower in November.

Posted by
1856 posts

Living in the NL for a few years, I'd opt for December. November IS depressing! Both can be cold & rainy.
In early December, you have the Feast of Saint Nicholas, celebrated annually with the giving of gifts on St. Nicholas' Eve (5 December) in the Netherlands, and on the morning of 6 December, Saint Nicholas in Belgium. You can also ride the canals and see the Annual Light Show in Amsterdam (starts in late November through January). Holiday Markets are somewhat hit and miss in NL; in many towns, they're just for a weekend - so you have to do your research.

We've traveled to Brussels, Bruges, and Antwerp for the holiday season... and it's a far better experience than November! Brussels has multiple Holiday market locations. Neither month is really a time of the year that tourists come to the area, so you'll not see the crowds you might for the German Holiday markets. But yes, dress warm!

Of course, New Year's Eve here is...a party!!!!

Posted by
336 posts

Many thanks for the responses. It appears that as far as weather, both November and December are bad months to visit, but December's holiday activities add a charm lacking in November. I mentioned November and December because of Transatlantic-cruise opportunities with cruises arriving in the UK on November 5 and December 10, and the likelihood of independent travel in Europe thereafter. But the latter raises the challenge, if any real time is spent in Europe, of returning home by air during the Christmas season. And it seems that visiting the Netherlands in late October is only marginally better than visiting in mid-November.

The answer may be to visit in the spring one year.