When this blog was written, we took into account the measures and circumstances that were applicable at the time. You may be reading this blog at a time when other measures apply. In order to keep the essence of the blog as intact as possible, we will not change the content of this blog as a result of changing measures. Would you like to know more information about COVID-19 and the related measures? Click here.
Although I used to count down the days to Christmas with an Advent calendar, nowadays I start the countdown as soon as the men on their elevated platforms are back on the streets, getting the city ready for the lights. It starts early. ‘Are they up already?,’ we say every year. Then, just as we're all getting used to autumn and its dreary days, they're back. The magical lights. As if they’d never gone away.
The lights are also shining brightly in the Wyck district, a neighbourhood of Maastricht. This is where I work, and I regularly hang out there after work or at weekends. For me, it is the ultimate place to shop local, in the lovely boutiques and specialist shops that abound here. I often come here to enjoy a Maastricht-brewed beer or a glass of wine with a bite to eat. Once the lights have been switched on, I come here even more often. Starting this year, Wyck has its very own Magical Light Route, and I feel incredibly lucky to experience it.
The route begins at Maastricht Station, and all you have to do is follow the lights. Among other things, they will take you past the gigantic Christmas tree, one of the highlights of this route. There's a high chance you’ll spot a number of locals (or ‘Wiekenaren’ as we call them). Take a seat on the bench, grab yourself a hot chocolate from De Poshoorn, and soak up the atmosphere. Tip: Take a selfie by the Christmas tree or one of the red Christmas stars you will encounter along the route, and share it on social media. Each year, Wyck runs a fun selfie campaign in which a number of local prizes are up for grabs.
For me, the festive month is all about delicious food and drinks. Actually, I could say that about all of winter – I turn it into one long eating-and-drinking season. So no stroll along the light route is complete without a tasty treat. On Brugstraat in Wyck is ’t Wycker Cabinet, a place where, in summer, I like to sit on the terrace with a glass of wine and, in winter, settle down inside for something to eat. Everything is different this year, but like many other restaurants and cafés in Wyck, ’t Wycker Cabinet has come up with a solution. They have their own collection window/stall, all decked out in a winter theme. And, rejoice, there’s mulled wine on the menu! Because when the lights are switched, right on cue, the temperature drops. Which means cold hands. There’s no better remedy for cold hands than mulled wine – and a pair of gloves.
The lights also guide you to Rechtstraat. Did you know there are two parts to Rechtstraat? ‘Rechtstraat rechts’ – as we locals mostly call it – is the street where I work and, therefore, spend a lot of my time. But I never grow tired of this magical scene; the Christmas trees in combination with the garlands, and the church in the background. Wyck is magnifique. Rechtstraat is also the place to shop for local gifts. From wine shop Ruyters & De Koning to vintage at We-Ar Vintage and exclusive items at ByDuut & Nina’s Boutique, or Twinkel de Kadowinkel for little wooden gifts for children. If you wander through Wyck in the evening, Rechtstraat is also the perfect place for window shopping. The decorations become more magical with every shop window you pass.
As well as the trendy boutiques, refined hotels, cosy bars, and culinary hotspots, Wyck has something else worth seeing: stone plaques. The beautiful stone plaques and historic buildings given you glimpse of this district's rich past. So be sure to look up when you're in Wyck. Fortunately, we’re more likely to do just that when it's festooned with lights.
If you follow the lights, you’ll end up at the modern and industrial Céramique, a district that is not officially part of Wyck. With its vibrant industry and culture, this district is also referred to as the ‘architecture district’. You can see why as soon as you arrive at Plein 1992. And did you know that Michelin-starred restaurant Beluga is here? Céramique is also where you’ll find the Bonnefantenmuseum, one of Maastricht's iconic buildings. It's lit up in the evenings, and you’ll recognize it from afar by its rocket-like shape.
After reaching the Bonnefanten, I walk – with the Meuse beside me and Maastricht's skyline in the background – back towards Wyck. From here, you’ll spot the towers of Onze Lieve Vrouwebasiliek (Basilica of Our Lady) and Sint Servaasbasiliek (St Servatius' Basilica). The scene becomes more and more magical. Wyck looks luminous in the lights, as do the many, cosy take-away places. Time for a meal-to-go, which I decide to eat by the steps on the Meuse. It is my food-and-drink season, after all.
Want to walk the Magical Light Route through Wyck yourself? Download the route here. We may just bump into each other!
Although not Maastricht born and bred, these days the city is very much home to Janneke Grolleman. She works in the heart of Wyck, at copy and content agency Tekst & Stijl, where she writes, contemplates, and creates. In the evenings and at weekends, you’re most likely to find Janneke in one of Maastricht's hotspots. She knows Maastricht (i.e. its restaurants and terraces) inside out. Because together with Bregje Peters, she writes her own food blog, Foodies Maastricht. With her love of food and her passion for creating content, she enjoys taking you on tours of Maastricht and its foodie highlights.