NOTE: Lighting of the Tree in Gouda is a virtual event in 2020. Check back for the 2021 event updates.
Thousands of people flock to Gouda for the Christmas season. The yearly tradition to turn the streets and electric lights off and replace them with candles is an old one, probably dating to the 19th century. The Mayor's part on this day is to light a towering Christmas tree, given as a gift from a sister Norwegian city of Kongsberg, and give a special Christmas speech. It is magical experience to be in Gouda during this particular night.
The festivities start at 7 pm when city residents and visitors gather at the Gouda Markt to see the lighting of the Christmas tree. The town hall and other monumental buildings around the square are also lighted by thousands of candles. Choirs gather on the square to sing Christmas songs. The crowds join in and then visit nearby churches for a more spiritual experience. This creates an incredible enchanting atmosphere of the true Christmas miracle.
When in Gauda, don't forget to buy local cheese and candles that are famous all over the Netherlands. Gouda started producing high quality candles around the 19th century. Unique Gouda candles are made from natural wax that burns steadily and last a long time. Candles can be purchased at shops around the city as souvenirs.