With just a few days to go until my first Christmas in Amsterdam, I couldn’t help feeling as if something was missing. There are sprinkles of Christmas spirit around the city, but to a Filipina reared on the overkill of Christmas in Manila, it was all too… reserved. Craving for giant wreaths and towering trees, I suggested a Sunday drive to see the holiday decorations at Kasteel Middachten.
Kasteel Middachten is a manor house in the province of Gelderland, about an hour and 20 minutes by car from Amsterdam. The current building is from the late 1600s, but the origins of the castle go back as far as 1100.
Castles in the Netherlands are fairly understated affairs as the Dutch are not big on displays of wealth. Kasteel Middachten is one of the grander examples, although it’s more Dowager Countess than Medieval Princess.
Spotted: big-ass wreath right on the front door. Yay!
The castle and gardens are open from the 15th of May to the 15th of September, except for special events leading up to Sinterklaas and Christmas. This year they’ve decorated the castle for Christmas from the 17th to 22nd of December. From then on the estate will go into hibernation until spring.
Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but… it’s actually forbidden to take photos inside the house. I managed a couple of sneaky ninja pictures with my camera phone. But this is just a sneak peek, a little teaser. The whole house is worth seeing in its entirety!
Each room is done up with a Christmas tree to match the opulent furnishings. The theme changes every year. This year’s was Colonial Williamsburg, inspired by the historic colony in Virginia that played a major role in the American Revolution.
In addition to the opulently trimmed Christmas trees, there was also a beautiful table setting in the formal dining room. I love how everything is made of natural materials: fresh green wreaths, tiny red apples, sheaves of dried wheat, gingerbread men. The European preference for natural over synthetic has taken root in me over the last five years. I’ve already started phasing out our plastic holiday decorations at home.
Touring the castle didn’t take us more than an hour. Afterwards, we enjoyed some piping hot gluhwein while browsing the small Christmas market on the castle grounds.
We also listened to Christmas carols from a local choir, and music by this adorable old-fashioned organ grinder and his monkey.
So, I got my Christmas decor fix at Kasteel Middachten. I think I’m just about ready for Christmas. How about you?
Landgoed Middachten 3
6994 JC De Steeg
Christmas opening times:
From 17 to 22 December
12pm-8pm Castle and Christmas market open
5pm-8pm Christmas lights and storytelling in the garden
Admission €9 adults, €4.50 children 4-12
Rest of the year:
From 15 May to 15 September
Gardens open Sundays through Thursdays, 10:30 to 4:30pm
See website for guided tour times (in Dutch only)