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Christmas Markets Across the Region

The holiday season is coming, which here in Europe means a plethora of excellent Christmas fairs and markets. For those of use in the Maastricht region, this is a great time of year because our central location makes it easy to reach some great markets before Sinterklaas and Christmas are upon us. Here are some markets to get you started.

Maastricht Winterland

Maastricht’s Winterland may not be one of the largest Christmas markets, but it does draw people from all over to explore its shops, eat holiday treats, and skate on the temporary ice-skating rink. There weren’t many handmade goods last year, but there are some good finds surrounded by the usual plastic Santas. A “Festival of Lights”, featuring a walk and art projects, starts November 13th. The rest of Maastricht’s holiday offering kicks off December 3rd.

Christmas Market at the Velvet Caves, Valkenburg

A large and entertaining visit, the Valkenburg market’s claim to fame is being underground in the marl caves that honeycomb the land beneath the town. For 4 euros, you can explore the cave at your leisure as you survey the various handmade and not-so-handmade products. There were some unique artists there last year when we visited. This Christmas market and the one in it’s sister cave (Gemeente cave) open November 19th.

Christmas Village, Liege
The “Village de Noel de Liege” is the largest holiday market of its kind in Belgium and is very popular; attracting 1 million visitors a year. Nestled in the heart of the city, you can visit the 170 holiday shops selling everything from handmade goods to decorations to traditional Christmas food and drink. Especially sought after are the traditional Walloon & Liegeois ornaments created by hand by a Liege-based couple, and there is even a sledding hill! This village opens its doors on November 26th.

Christmas City, Aachen

If you’re looking for a German Christmas Market, the Christmas City in Aachen is a great place to start. Boasting 1.5 million visitors a year, the Christmas City features many shops with a variety of goods, lots of holiday delicacies, and a carousel. Aachen’s market is the earliest, starting on November 19th and running until Christmas Eve.

Aachen market photo by Jaycross & used under Creative Commons-By Attribution.

This post was original published at Maastricht Region: To Live.

A Spooky Night in Limburg

I’ve always enjoyed Halloween. I’m not fond of being scared, but I do love dressing up, so I was disappointed that the holiday isn’t that popular here in the Netherlands. Maybe everyone gets their costuming energy out around Carnival. Fortunately for those of us who do like Halloween, it is catching on, especially over the border in Belgium. Here are a handful of events in the region:

Foire d’octobre Liege: Not strictly a Halloween event, this large festival and fairground hosts a Halloween parade for children and parents on November 2nd at 5 pm. There are gifts and prizes for registered participant. When you’re not marching or watching the parade, you can ride the many rides at the fair or sample some of the local food. Foire d’octobre Liege will be open from now until November 15th.

Spookstad Bokrijk: From October 30th through November 1, visitors to Hanger 58 in Bolrijk (BE) can explore a haunted town, complete with witches, horror stories, and ghosts. Hanger 58 sounds like an interesting place, with an “old town” built in 1960 to encapsulate the evolution of architecture from the late Middle Ages to the 19th century. Tickets cost 10 euros per person and are slightly cheaper online.

Fenix Halloween Party: For adults, Fenix Poppodium in Sittard is hosting a fancy dress dance party for Halloween on October 30th (10pm to 3 am). The cover is 5 euros.

Halloween at Kasteelpark Born: Kids can come dressed as witches and wizards to Kasteelpark on October 31st from 1pm to 4pm to celebrate the holiday. The witches of Theater Netwerk will be making spells and potions and a real bat specialist will also be there to teach kids about bats. You can participate in the Halloween activities for the cost of admission to the park.

Halloween Walk, Lummen: Families are welcome to join this 3,5 km Halloween hike and a big bonfire. The hikes run continuously from 6:30 pm to 9 pm and start at the St. Ferdinand Sports fields in Lummen (BE). Children can participate for 3 euros and adult admission is 5 euros.

Halloween op de Dijk: Visit Tongeren on October 30th and 31st from 5pm to midnight and enjoy pumpkin decorating, ring dances, food, and a 200m tunnel of horror. Admission is 1 euro.

Do you have a favorite event? Share it in the comments below.

This article was originally published at Maastricht Region to Live.

Jazz: Finding the Music in the Maastricht Region

Not from Maastricht...

Jazz is a big part of the music scene in the Maastricht region, with many local and nearby musicians who play live on a weekly basis. A little searching can usually turn up a least one musical event at a cafe or a concert, and regional musicians sell their work both in stores and online. As autumn settles in around us, two jazz festivals are on the horizon for lovers of this type of music: Jeker Jazz and the MECC Jazz Maastricht.

Jeker Jazz (14-17 October): The first of these two festivals, Jeker Jazz (last year called Jazz Promenade) is a four day event in Maastricht’s downtown Jeker quarter. The event focuses on admission-free jazz, blues, funk, and related music played live in various cafes and pubs, mostly from regional musicians but some do come from all over. This year is its 20th anniversary! Dan and I attended one of the concerts last year, and had an enjoyable evening. But show up early; the cafes fill quickly.

The MECC Jazz Maastricht (29-30 October): The MECC Jazz Maastricht festival is a new event this year, but its roots began in the 1990s with another event called Jazz Mecca. Located (naturally) at the MECC, attendees will be treated to a mix of international and regional musicians as well as great food and drink. You can check out the program and purchase tickets on their website. Entrance is €42,50 for one day, or €72,50 for the complete event.

Beyond the individual festivals, live music is quite easy to find in the Maastricht region. If you’re looking for live events in Maastricht, try Jazz Maastricht, where they maintain a calendar of music events and also have more information about festivals when they take place. For Limburg area events beyond Maastricht you can try JazzClub Zuid-Limburg which also has an itinerary.

In all likelihood these events and websites only scratch the surface of live music in the Maastricht Region. Do you have a favorite jazz event you’d like to share? Please add it in the comments below.

Source: This article was originally published on Maastricht Region: to Live.

Image Source: by pedrosimoes7 on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons By Attribution.

Another Excellent Pecha Kucha Come and Gone

Monday evening saw yet another excellent Pecha Kucha event here in Maastricht; and not just because my own husband gave a presentation. In addition to the many artists who always participate, there were also several scientists and social activists presenting.  Some videos will be up soon, and the moment I hear about them I will definately link a few of my favorites. The videos are live. Check ‘em out!

To give you a taste of the presenters we saw, here’s the line up from the Pecha Kucha Maastricht website and a few words on the ones that stuck with me.

Dan Potter: online cartoon writing: Obviously my husband, but I always enjoy how animated he gets when talking about subjects he cares about. Lots of arm waving and exciting talking about finding his creative passion in our webcomic Walking the Lethe.
Mahdi Abdulrazak: cyborgs without surgery
Bart Knols: the mosquito and the Limburg cheese: This research shows how a particular type of mosquito is attractive to a bacteria on our feet which is remarkably close to a bacteria in Limburg cheese. I find it funny that somewhere a long the line, someone decided to put his feet in a troth of milk, let it congeal and then (ludicrously) decided to eat it.
Angelo Vermeulen: open source art
Joery Wilbers: we need rock and roll
Markus Bediako: Africa = Eden: Markus gave a powerful presentation and made a powerful case that we in the “West” need to rethink our perceptions of Africa and that our governments need to work with the people of Africa as adults. He was very passionate.
Marc Smulders: 2012 – proof of the pudding: On the other hand, this garbled collection of statements about crop circles and the end date of the Mayan calendar was terrible. Even if you do believe in aliens, god, and the end of the world, his attempt to “change our lives” failed in a glorious lack of real proof or providing explanations for why what he was showing us was “obvious”.
Manfred Lueth: radical innovation
Sanjay Sharma: it’s all in attitude
Koen Beumer: scar pride: About the changing perception of scars and the practice of scarification. My scars are all from cooking mishaps.
Egid van Houtem: software thinking
Youssef Joumani: mish-mash
Tanja Ritterbex: save the holy goblin

There was also an interesting session of “Laugh Yoga“, which I had never heard of but naturally have everyone giggling.

Behind the Stage

Of course the interesting thing this time for us is that Dan was a presenter. Presenters were invited to arrive at the AINSI building at 5 pm to allow everyone a chance to run through their presentations. This was a nice touch because it really helps get the nerves out and makes sure that the slides are running properly and that speakers who don’t use a microphone get a feel for it. I got to tag along for this (I assume because I’m the partner, but maybe just because I know Sueli).

The team also fed all the presenters and gave them free drink tickets to use at the bar during the beer break and after the event. Nice perks for participating in the event.

Dan on Stage

I’ll leave you with a video of Dan’s presentation:

Klik! Animation Festival Starts This Week

The Klik! Animation Festival in Amsterdam is coming up soon and we can’t wait!

Just like this guy.

Dan & I attended the Klik! festival last year and had a really good time. Plus we got to see some wonderful, awful, and seriously weird shorts and feature length films. This year we’re only going to be there for part of the festival, but I’m looking forward to catching “Quantum Quest”, a full length animation, as well as the various shorts offerings.

We’ll also be doing some costuming shopping while in Amsterdam, but that’s another story.

The Klik! festival runs from Sept. 15th-19th in several film houses in Amsterdam. Check our their website for more information and if you are attending, please let me know. I’d love to meet up with a few people.

, The “desperate for Klik!” dancing dude above is part of Klik’s Gif Alert and is used here in exchange for props.

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