Sunday, August 7, 2022

Festivals & Holidays in Netherlands

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Festivals in Netherlands

  • Every two years, the country goes crazy for football on the occasion of the European Championship or the World Cup. Whole streets will be decorated with orange flags, the country’s national colour. It is not unusual for half the population to watch a match when it is particularly important. Often large cities install large TV screens for the public, such as on Rembrandtplein in Amsterdam. Cafés and bars are also popular places to watch matches.
  • In the south of the Netherlands (North Brabant, Limburg and to a lesser extent Twente, Overijssel and southern Gelderland), Carnival has been celebrated in a Catholic way since the Middle Ages. It takes place just before Lent, usually in February or March. Parades can be seen in almost every town on Sundays and sometimes on Mondays. Parades can also take place in the evening, usually on Saturdays, when all the floats are lit up with many small lights. On the other days of the week, many activities are organised, ranging from street painting (stoepkrijten) to beer-drinking competitions. The cities of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Breda and Maastricht are recommended for the carnival.
  • King‘s Day (Koningsdag, until 2012 it was Queen’s Day) takes place every year on 27 April throughout the country (unless this day is a Sunday, in which case it takes place on the previous Saturday). Every village, town and city organises free markets and authentic Dutch games. Today, the Feast of Kings is much more than a day of parties and celebrations. It is advisable to wear orange clothes, because most Dutch people walk around in their national colour. It is advisable to visit this day in Amsterdam, as it is one of the biggest events of the year in this city. In several larger cities (including The Hague and Utrecht), the celebrations begin on the evening of 26 April. In The Hague, most of the festivities take place the evening before.
  • Pinkpop. Is a three-day pop festival every year at Whitsun (“Pinksteren“) in Landgraaf, Limburg.
  • The Lowland. Pop festival – every last weekend in August in Biddinghuizen, Flevoland.
  • Summer carnival. A large parade in the centre of Rotterdam. One of the biggest events in the Netherlands.
  • North Sea Jazz Festival. A large summer jazz festival that has been held in Rotterdam’s Ahoy Stadium since 2006, when it moved here from The Hague. Around 1,800 bands from jazz, blues, funk, soul, hip-hop, Latin and R&B perform over the three days.
  • Vierdaagsefeesten. Seven-day summer festival in Nijmegen, during the Nijmeegse Vierdaagse, which always begins on the 3rd Tuesday in July. However, the festivities start the weekend before and are attended by more than a million people. During the festival there is an area for all the big Dutch bands like Moke and Racoon, De Affaire which focuses on alternative and rock, The Matrixx which has all the electronic dance music you need and of course the many terraces and bars.
  • Sensation – (formerly known as “Sensation White”) One of the most famous parties in the world, organised by ID&T. 40,000 people, all dressed in white, gather to listen to great house music DJs. Tickets usually sell out very quickly. Several international editions are held around the world several times a year, with the main concert taking place at the Amsterdam ArenA every summer. Sensation Black (featuring hardstyle music) used to be held at the same venue every year, but is now held in Belgium.
  • Dance Valley. The largest dance festival, with more than 40,000 visitors. Every year in mid-July in Spaarnwoude Park near Schiphol Airport. The focus is on celebrating summer, with circus tents where each tent represents a different kind of dance music.
  • Mystery Land. Dance festival on the theme of “The Power of Flowers”. In the last week of August, near Schiphol Airport. Most types of dance are represented, including even electro. There are also activities such as workshops and theatre, which are not normally seen at dance festivals.
  • Defqon.1st dance festival with a focus on the hardest dance styles, like hardstyle and hardcore. Residing in Flevoland, usually in the middle of June.

Holidays in the Netherlands

There are several major public holidays in the Netherlands. The public holidays in the Netherlands are as follows:

DateEnglish nameDutch nameNotes
1 JanuaryNew Year’s DayNieuwjaarsdag 
March/AprilGood FridayGoede Vrijdag 
March/AprilEasterPasenA two-day holiday (Easter Sunday and the following Monday).
27 aprilKing’s DayKoningsdagIf 27 April falls on a Sunday, King’s Day is celebrated on 26 April.
5 MayLiberation DayBevrijdingsdagIt is a bank holiday that used to happen only once every five years.
40 days after EasterAscension DayHemelvaartsdagThe following Friday is a day off for most people.
7 weeks after EasterPentecostPinksterenA two-day holiday (Pentecost and the following Monday).
25 and 26 DecemberChristmasKerstmisThe Dutch have two days of Christmas, both called Christmas Day.
  • Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) is not a public holiday. However, most (semi-)governmental organisations, banks and insurance companies honour this day by granting a day off. If leave is granted on this day, it is usually a compulsory day off, which is deducted from employees’ leave days, while other national holidays are not taken into account when calculating holiday pay.
  • St. Nicholas Eve (the eve of Sinterklaas, also known as Pakjesavond), 5 December, is also not a bank holiday, but is still widely celebrated. Although the traditional St. Nicholas Day is 6 December, it is actually St. Nicholas Eve, 5 December, that is celebrated in the Netherlands.

The Government also recognises the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day as “equivalent” to a holiday for the purposes of deposits/payments to or by the Government; if an appointment ends on such a day, the appointment will be extended. If Christmas Day or Boxing Day falls on a weekend (i.e. Saturday or Sunday), no additional day of the week will be allocated for it. In other words: In years when Christmas Day is a Saturday, there is no national Christmas holiday at all.

Carnival is also celebrated in the south of the Netherlands. Although it is not an official holiday, many people in the south take a week off to celebrate it.

Recently there was a debate on whether Eid ul-Fitr (Suikerfeest in Dutch) should be a bank holiday or not. This debate was rejected by political parties such as the PVV and the SGP, although many others have no problem with it. For now, Eid ul-Fitr is not an official bank holidays, but it usually warrants a day off for Islamic workers. Opponents of this proposal argue that there are already enough national holidays.

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