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24 years Country & Christmas Fair
Take a dive into the history…


We have found a new location, and what a new one! We are proud to present the atmospheric Slot Zeist as our new home base. A rich history, centrally located, and beautiful, wooded surroundings. Exhibitors, visitors, friends, acquaintances: people are unanimously enthusiastic.


After two difficult years during the corona pandemic, where two editions could not take place, there is another Country Christmas Fair! It is a nice reunion with our exhibitors and visitors. It also turns out to be the last edition in and around castle de Haar in Haarzuilens. There are other plans for the castle. It is the beginning of a search for a new location.

New this year is the wish bus. In this bus, children can leave their Christmas wishes. According to Jeroen van der Horst, it is worth leaving a wish. ‘We are fulfilling a few.’ It promises to be a good year.

Best an exciting edition for Inventief as they themselves have taken control of the entire parking and traffic policy at the Castle.

An edition to pass muster. No problems with parking due to excellent dry pasture.

It’s party time, Country & Christmas Fair is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In honor of the 20th anniversary, we are launching a veritable magazine in which exhibitors and suppliers will contribute and talk about their experiences.

By far the busiest edition ever. That led us to decide for this year to expand on the grounds and in days.

During this edition, the Goose Parade was present which attracted huge crowds.

Goose parade with the 1907 Moulin Rouge mirror tent in the background where Paradise Bigband plays all day.

An edition with an awful lot of wind. Three days of code orange across the field does not go easy on you as an organizer.

Christmas is also in the Castle.

The first edition with an art project and a water show. La lumière dansant, The “dancing candles,” is a design by artist Pieter van de Pol. There is also the premiere of a water show in the castle’s moat with people standing around dancing and singing.

So many people traveling to Haarzuilens to visit the most beautiful Christmas Fair in the Netherlands.
Meanwhile, visitors from Belgium, Germany, France and even England know how to find us.

A very cold edition with frost during the day.

During the dismantling period, it started snowing and didn’t stop. After almost three weeks of taking down, decided to stop and wait for better weather. Stuff got lost and it became dangerously slippery on the grounds. In January 2011, the baron died. The service was in the Chapel where his embalmed body was interred in the Chapel tomb.

On the eve of the funeral, Inventief covered with snow all the mountains of wood chips, that could not be removed, so it looked like mountains of snow as the funeral procession went all over the grounds.

In April 2017, the final cleanup work was done to properly close the 2010 edition.


New decoration pieces are brought in.

The skating rink will be covered.

The skating rink proved to be a great success. It will be moved and grow a whopping 150m2.
This will also require moving the large tent at La Place. Months of planning precede this.

An exhibition and the Chapel of 250 Years of Wedgwood.

Peter’s dream is coming true, there is a real ice rink. Not plastic, just frozen water. hat an undertaking, but what an atmosphere. Featuring professional ice dancers and demonstrations of Old Dutch Swinging and Swinging.

A disaster year.

The founder of the Country & Christmas Fair, Peter van der Horst passes away in August. A very big loss. Since then, there has not been an edition in which the moon does not shine over the event. It was Peter’s dream to one day brighten up the Fair with an ice rink.

With great caution and showing respect, we were allowed to borrow the nativity scene from the church in Utrecht. These sculptures were created by Pierre Cuypers’ son. A nice link to the Castle which was designed by Pierre Cuypers.

Snow is clearly visible in the background. Is nice for the photo but not so useful for the event. On Friday, there was a veritable blizzard throughout the Netherlands so bad weather alerts were all issued resulting in just over 1,000 visitors over the entire day. Normally, an average of about 6,000 visitors attended Friday.



At the 2005 edition, it was decided to forgo the Thursday night and make Wednesday already the first opening day.

The ROM Christmas Choir sings for the first time during the Country & Christmas Fair. now 12 years later they are still participating. (photo 2)

Packed and packed full of purchased items, these two ladies leave the grounds. (photo 1)

A photo from my own archives of the main entrance that has been constantly modified and improved over the years. A ladder (pictured right) would now not be so in sight. (photo 3)

Even grander plans on the grounds in the second year, expansion on the grounds and in the catering area. La Place anticipates and takes charge of main catering.
In addition, top chef Cas Spijkers signed his book. This happened at regular intervals. (or so we thought) Mr. Spijkers did not take that very closely and arrived late daily which caused a lot of unrest among Inventief employees.

Our Santa Claus: Chris also known as Chrisman strengthens the team since the 2004 edition to the present.

The holy image of Christ has been brought since the first edition and has stood at numerous diverse locations. The statue is from Toulouse and was made in 1863, of cast iron and NOT liftable!!!

The very first Country & Christmas Fair at Castle de Haar in Haarzuilens. Then still owned by baron and still relatively unknown in the Netherlands. During the month of September, the Baron stayed at his Castle with an entourage of servants, cooks and chambermaids. Whenever an appointment was scheduled with an exhibitor who wanted to view the new location, written permission had to be obtained from the Baron himself.


The latest edition of the Country & Christmas Fair at Slot Assumburg.
In five years from 70 exhibitors and less than 5,000 visitors in 1997 to more than 100 exhibitors and more than double the number of visitors.

Big problems in the area w.r.t. parking from the many cars to big traffic jams on the roads.

The Country & Christmas Fair outgrew its location and it was time to look for another location and preferably, centrally located in Holland….

Firma de Boer tents from Alkmaar in the construction phase.

Nice newspaper article prior to the fair.

It became so crowded inside the Slot that it was decided by order of the fire department and municipality that no more than 250 visitors could be inside the Slot at one time. there was an Inventief employee on the bridge with a hand counter and at the achieved number of 250 people it was literally 2 people out then only 2 new ones in.

The mega-heavy Christmas tree was replaced by an 8-meter-high mast including lights.

The second edition of the Fair is a reality. Thanks to great interest with an evening opening on Thursdays. During construction, trees six feet tall were still placed by hand. What a job. These days we use forklifts for that.


The very first announcement of the very first Country & Christmas Fair at Assumburg Castle in Heemskerk.

Antique dealer Peter van der Horst and his wife Betty were completely fooled in 1998 because of their idea to host a Christmas event in late November. ‘At the end of November? In the open air and then even before St. Nicholas?” were the surprised and also somewhat pitying reactions. Nevertheless, the two pioneers persevered and organized their very first Country & Christmas Fair, then still at Assumburg Castle in Heemskerk. They still had something to learn in organizing. For example, what to do with all visitors’ cars? ‘Oh well, we’ll just park on the road and make it a one-way street,’ Peter solved any parking problem. The event became a success.