Annual Christmas tree bonfire in Amsterdam



Yesterday around 4 pm families on bikes and on foot dragged their Christmas trees to the Museumplein, the huge park in front of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam where people can skate on the pond this winter. They piled trees as high as they could and at 5 pm they set the whole thing on fire while hundreds of people watched with friends and families. Not many events have this spontaneous community thing going for it, but this one did. I managed to join up with at least 10 people I know from Twitter (aka Tweeps) and their children for the event.

Just when I thought the security for the bonfire was exaggerated in a country that does not allow even the smallest of campfires at camping sites in the summer, the pile of trees set aside to feed the bonfire caught fire. A fire truck had to disperse the crowd while people just laughed and cheered on.


  1. Heh. And of course the City of Amserdam did some carbon trading to allow this pollution? :-P

    Comment by Jay Vos — January 5, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

  2. That is a nice tradition. I like it when the Christmas tree burns … outdoors. Thanks for blogging about it.

    My brother and I went to Museumplein in Amsterdam to see the paintings in Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum. I had a snack of herring at the cart out front.

    How do people heat their homes in the Netherlands? Here in the northeast US we use heating oil or natural gas mostly.

    Comment by Neil — January 5, 2009 @ 5:45 pm

  3. Same thing here…!

    Comment by Orangemaster — January 5, 2009 @ 5:50 pm

  4. Same here, although district heating is quite popular, too.

    Comment by Eric — January 6, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

  5. i have a question for those who live in amsterdam. do christmas trees grow there or not becuz it is flat plane?

    Comment by Veraa — January 11, 2009 @ 11:29 am

  6. A swamp, actually. Christmas trees grow on barges floating all year along the canals. The trees are tended to by fairies who no-one’s ever seen. The trees are protected from the harsh, howling winds and the fetid stench bubbling up from below the water by willow screens. Then, on December 1, the barges float to the Dam in the Amstel where the mayor hands one Christmas tree to the head of each family. It’s a very solemn ceremony, I can tell you that.

    Comment by Branko Collin — January 11, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

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