Celluloid Diaries: Valkenburg - Christmas in caves

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Valkenburg - Christmas in caves

valkenburg christmas

Did you know that Valkenburg in the Netherlands is one of the best towns to visit during the holidays? 

That's because many of its Christmas activities take place in... caves. 

valkenburg christmas market
valkenburg christmas market

Velvet Cave 

The Fluweelengrot (Velvet Cave) houses one of Europe's prettiest Christmas markets. The otherwise dark corridors are decorated with garlands of lights; dozens of stalls have ornaments and gifts on offer. 

Outside the Christmas season, you can visit the Velvet Cave through a guided tour that lasts fifty minutes. The tour focuses on the several century-old murals and sand sculptures, their backstories, and some town history. 

valkenburg christmas caves
megalosaurus fluweelengrot

Castle ruins 

Most tourists who visit Valkenburg buy a combination ticket for the Velvet Cave and the Valkenburg castle

The castle once belonged to the Lords of Valkenburg but was bombarded and destroyed in 1672 by order of William II. All that is left now are ruins, but they make for quite an impressive visit and offer a good vantage point over town. 

castle ruins valkenburg netherlands
valkenburg castle ruins
valkenburg castle ruins
valkenburg castle ruins
valkenburg netherlands castle ruins
valkenburg ruins
valkenburg kerstman

Wilhelmina Cave 

In the lit dens of the marl corridors of the Wilhelmina Cave, you'll find several sand sculptures depicting the Christmas story. The tour ends with Europe's biggest nativity scene, inspired by The Star Of Bethlethem, and sculpted entirely out of sand. 

Inside the Wilhelmina cave, there's a cozy wooden chalet where you can enjoy a hot chocolate and mulled wine. 

kerststal grotten valkenburg
valkenburg sand sculptures
wilhelmina cave
valkenburg nativity scene
sand sculptures wilhelmina cave valkenburg


After visiting the Wilhelmina cave, you can take the cableway to a café/restaurant on top of the hill where you'll have a beautiful view over the Geul valley. 

valkenburg kabelbaan
kabelbaan valkenburg

Santa's Village 

The town of Valkenburg is magical to explore as well. As soon as you arrive, you're submerged in a fairy-like atmosphere. Valkenburg is already pretty outside of the holidays (eighty percent of the houses are made out of marl stone from the caves), but during the Christmas season every house, shop, and restaurant is decked out more abundantly and more beautifully than in many other towns. There is also a small outdoor Christmas market called Santa's Village. 

valkenburg house
valkenburg netherlands
valkenburg christmas
valkenburg christmas
valkenburg christmas decoration
kerststad valkenburg


I stayed at the Valkenburg Parkhotel whose interiors and atmosphere reminded me of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining. With its old-style interiors, comfortable bed, and excellent breakfast, the Parkhotel is definitely a place I want to return to. 

I especially loved writing from the lovely decorated bar of the hotel (where I drafted this post), with soft Christmas music playing in the background. It was so warm and snuggly there that I seriously didn't want to leave. 

parkhotel valkenburg

parkhotel valkenburg

parkhotel valkenburg

What do you think of Valkenburg? Have you ever been?

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  1. Dat Valkenburg tijden de kerstdagen zo mooi was, wist ik niet Vanessa. Door jou prachtige foto's, kunnen wij er toch even een kijkje nemen. Ik wens je een hele fijne jaarwisseling, en een goed maar vooral gezond 2015.

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  2. I visited Valkenburg in August of 2005, I believe.
    I loved the place. Seems like a good idea indeed to return there for Christmas one year.
    Thanks for the tips.
    Have fun tonight.

  3. Ja veel te lang geleden en zal dit nu al noteren voor volgend jaar!

    Als geluk ergens voor het rapen lag
    Zou ik daarheen gaan
    Handen vol opgooien, hoog in de lucht
    Dwarrelend met de wind in vogelvlucht
    Langs de sterren en de maan
    Zou het jullie kant op gaan
    Al was het een klein beetje maar
    Dan wordt het voor jullie
    Een gelukkig nieuw jaar

  4. Beautiful pictures. Happy New Year!

  5. Hi Vanessa - I have to admit I've never heard of it - but it's in my brain now! What a stunning place to visit - and can definitely see the enticement of Christmastime .. as well as the history of the town and its neighbourhood ... I'd love to visit sometime!

    Cheers and happy New Year - cheers Hilary

  6. What a beautify place/ I had no idea of the caves. I will have to add Valkenburg to the list of places that I hope to visit. And it seems I should come at holiday!
    Happy new year

  7. That is amazing! I've never heard of it but what a beautiful place and what a history lesson you gave me. Thanks so much for linking up at NanaHood.com Do come back and let's visit frequently. I love learning about other places. Happy New Year from Teresa at NanaHood

  8. What a stunning series of photos - and so interesting to read about. Thanks so much for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2014/12/fading-glory.html!
    I wish you all the best in 2015.

  9. The cave with the scenes out of sand is incredible. All of the photos are just amazing.
    Happy New Year, Vanessa!

  10. Wow, this looks amazing, and I'd no idea it even existed! Thank you for linking up!

  11. Oh wow! Fantastic photo!!!!
    Happy New Year!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  12. Oh, that is just stunning! I would love to do that. I am a bit bah humbug when it comes to Christmas but that would put me in the mood for it.
    A very Happy New Year to you!
    Dip Elliot and Lynne x

  13. In caves? That is so neat! I would love that. Your pictures are amazing. I enjoyed them all.

    Happy New Year!!! :D

  14. What lovely pictures. I never knew caves could be so interesting. Never been there, but it looks like a great place to visit. Thanks for giving us the tour. Happy New Year.

  15. That looks like a fascinating place! It's a neat idea to have Christmas displays in caves, too.

    Have a very happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2015!

  16. I have never been but after reading your post, I sure want to see it. How interesting to have the shops in caves. The sand sculptures are really cool too. That picture of the corridor looking through a courtyard is very cool. I love castles.

    I look forward to your blog in 2015. Happy New Year!



  17. Your photos make these places look so inviting. I wouldn't have appreciated them enough if I'd seen these places in person.

  18. Amazing photos of stunning places! I still feel the Christmas air from this post =)

    Happy New Year. Dropping by from http://pixiedusk.livejournal.com/329864.html

  19. I have a feeling my son went to Valkenburg on a school trip. They played laser tag in the caves. (But he's too asleep to ask!)

    It looks like a beautiful place, and I really would like to go now!

  20. Wow, that looks beautiful & definitely somewhere that I'd love to spend Christmas!
    Wishing you a belated Wordless Wednesday & a happy New Year.

  21. Happy Happy New Year and oh what wonderful photos...thank you for sharing them with us
    Hugs madi and mom

  22. Looks idyllic -- I'd love to visit Valkenburg some day! Happy New Year, Vanessa, and may 2015 bring you your heart's desire.

  23. What an incredible place. Thanks for the photos. I loved all the photos...so beautiful. Wishing you all the best for 2015!

  24. oh wow how cool are those caves, such beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing, am sure you had a lovely christmas wishing you a wonderful new year

  25. I have never been, but I so want to go now! Wow! Stunning! Wishing you a great 2015, filled with many blessings ;o)

  26. It sounds and appears incredibly special to celebrate Christmas in caves. It'd almost convert to Christianity for that perk.

    I hope you have a wonderful 2015, Vanessa. xo

  27. Oh wow this looks amazing!! What wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit :) x x

  28. I think you pretty much can't go wrong with road tripping to the Netherlands, right? But CHRISTMAS IN CAVES? OMG. I'm so there! That sounds seriously amazing. I love that I can live vicariously through your blog posts and write down places to visit later. One day I'll tell my kids that I got my culture from Vanessa Morgan :)

  29. Stunning pictures. I love traveling with you virtually.

    Happy New Year.

  30. What a wonderful place to visit and tour, I love the cave with all the trees!!!
    Just started following you on Bloglovin!!!
    Happy New Year!!

  31. Heb al enkele keer een reactie gegeven maar zie hem niet terug.
    Een prachtige reportage Vanessa.
    Toen we er waren was het zo druk dat we het nauwelijks konden zien.
    nu geniet ik van deze mooie foto's.
    Nog de beste wensen voor 2015 .

  32. Wow! I have been to the Netherlands and been to many towns/cities there, but had never heard of Valkenburg before! I would love to visit this place at Christmas one year. :)

  33. How cool! I need to remember that. It looks so festive and unique. Thanks for sharing! I love to hear about new places to visit.

  34. This is an eye opening post for me Vanessa. Hope I can pay valkenburg a visit when come Christmas time..someday. It's so beautiful.

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