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Event Series Event Series: Alkmaar Cheese Market

Alkmaar Cheese Market

April 12 @ 10:00 am 1:00 pm

Alkmaar Cheese Market
Alkmaar Cheese Market

Alkmaar Cheese Market

Thousands of visitors from all over the world come specially to Alkmaar for the cheese market. It is therefore a special spectacle with a square full of cheese and lugging cheese carriers. The cheese market is held just over 40 kilometres from the centre of Amsterdam.

In 1365, Alkmaar has weighing rights and one scale, but in 1612 these are already four. When the first real cheese market has taken place, it is covered in mists. Old documents have been found that clearly state that the cheese market took place with certainty in 1622, but there is also evidence that the cheese carrier guild was established in 1593; from this we can conclude that there must have been a cheese market back then.

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When is the cheese market in Alkmaar?

The cheese market in Alkmaar is held every Friday morning. The first cheese market of 2024 is on Friday 29 March and the last cheese market is on 27 September. The market starts at 10 am and lasts until 1 pm.

What can i expect at the Alkmaar Cheese Market?

During the cheese market in Alkmaar, the judges and traders go to work. They inspect the cheeses. They do this not only by looking at the cheese; the cheese is beaten and cut in half. They also take out a piece of cheese with a special cheese drill. They smell the cheese and check how elastic the piece is; this tells something about the fat content. Furthermore the cheese is crumbled between the fingers and of course tasted.

Program Alkmaar Cheese Market 2024

Although the cheese market does not start until 10 a.m., the work begins at 7 a.m. Under the watchful eye of the market master, they place about 30,000 kilos of Gouda cheese in long rows on the Waagplein. The number of cheeses is around 2,400. Everything must be ready by 09:30 hrs.

TimeProgram Alkmaar Cheese Market 2024
7:00 amPlacing the Cheeses | Trucks loaded with cheeses drive onto Waagplein, where the Alkmaar Cheese Market has been held since its inception. Under the watchful eye of the market master, the ‘setters’ arrange as much as 30,000 kilos of Gouda and Edam cheeses in long rows on the still quiet Waagplein. That’s about 2,400 cheeses! This must be completed by 9:30 am.
9:30 amCheese Carriers | The cheese carriers arrive at the Waaggebouw. Anyone who is late has to pay a fine, which partly goes to a school in the town of ‘Alkmaar’ in Suriname.
9:45 amCheese Father’s Roll Call | The head of the cheese carriers, the ‘cheese father,’ holds his roll call with the cheese carriers in the Waaggebouw. Are all the cheese carriers present? Are there any special matters on the market today? Which cheese carriers will work in which part of the Cheese Market?
10:00 amThe Cheese Bell | At exactly 10:00 am, the cheese bell is rung. This opens the cheese market to visitors. The honor of ringing the bell usually goes to a well-known Dutch celebrity or a relation of the Municipality of Alkmaar.
From 10:00 amInspecting the Cheeses | After ringing the bell, the inspectors examine the cheeses by tapping, tasting, and feeling them. A piece is taken from the cheese with a special cheese bore. The smell and elasticity of the piece of cheese that comes out of it indicate something about the fat content. They also look at the number of holes in the cheese; these should be perfectly distributed over the cheese.
From 10:00 amThe Random Sample | Do you ever take a random sample? This term comes from the Cheese Market, where the inspectors use a cheese bore to take a piece from the cheese to taste it.
After a positive inspection, the intense negotiation of the cheese price can begin. This is still done through the traditional method of ‘handjeklap,’ which means ‘hand-clapping.’ The final handclap signifies the completion of the cheese sale.
From 10:00 amWeighing the Cheese | Once a batch of cheese is sold, the cheese carriers carry it on a berrie to the Weigh House. There, the cheese is weighed by the so-called ‘tasman’ (bagman). Where does the name tasman come from? It refers to the bag around his waist, where he keeps the collected money. The weighmaster ensures that the correct weight is billed to the buyer. After weighing, the tasman stamps the wooden berrie.
From 10:00 amCarrying the Cheese Away | When a batch of cheese has been weighed and sold, the cheese carriers transport the cheeses across the market to the buyers’ trucks. Two cheese carriers carry the cheese on a berrie, and more than 100 kilos of cheese are on it! It is quite an art to keep the cheese berrie steady while walking. The Cheese Carriers must walk in a certain rhythm, which is called the ‘kaasdragersdribbel’ or ‘cheese carriers’ trot.’ This way, the berrie hangs still between the cheese carriers.
12:30 pmThrowing the Cheese | The ‘ingooiers’ load the last cheeses onto carts and take them to the buyers’ trucks in Marktstraat. The cheese disappears from Waagplein, and in its place, cozy terraces are set up. Maybe you’ve worked up an appetite for a cheese sandwich… The restaurants and cafes in and around Waagplein will be happy to help you!

How to get to the Cheese Market in Alkmaar?

Travel by car

The cheese market is held in the centre of Alkmaar at the Waagplein. During the cheese markets it can be busy in the parking garages. Look here for an overview of parking places, parking garages and parking fees.

Travel by public transport

If you travel by public transport, it is best to take the train to Alkmaar. From the station, follow the signs ‘Centrum‘ to walk to the Cheese Market. Check 9292.nl for the timetable of the busses and trains.

Book a cheese tour

Walking tour with local guide (start at Alkmaar Train Station)

Learn all about the famous Alkmaar Cheese Market and the historic city of Alkmaar on this 2.5 hour small group walking tour!

Alkmaar Cheese Market TourPrice
Adults (>16)€ 26.00Book now
Childeren (9-15)€ 13.00Book now
Childeren (0-8)Free

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Luxury day trip from Amsterdam

Are you travelling from Amsterdam? Then the easiest way is to book a cheese day tour. This takes you directly from the centre of Amsterdam to the cheese market in Alkmaar. You will also visit a cheese farm in the Dutch countryside.

Waagplein 2
Alkmaar, Noord Holland 1811JP Netherlands