Netherlands’ Festivals and Public Holidays 2018

The Dutch are a fairly easy-going group of people: give them a day to have a celebration, and they will accept it. Maybe that’s because, as a country, they don’t have that many official public holidays. Or maybe they just take their status as one of the happiest countries seriously. Either way, let’s take a look at what keeps the Dutch busy during the year.

Netherlands’ Holidays 2018

The Dutch celebrate holidays according to the Gregorian calendar. New Year’s Day is on January 1st, Christmas is on the 25th (with a bonus second Christmas Day on the 26th), while Easter and Pentecost shift slightly date wise each year (April 1st and May 20th in 2018). Overall, holidays in the Netherlands are quite regular. But there are a few days that the Dutch celebrate that are unique to them. One of those is King’s Day.

King’s Day is the national celebration of King Willem-Alexander’s birthday on April 27th. On that day, people are allowed to sell their second-hand goods, tax free, on the streets. You’ll find tables filled with appliances, blankets on the ground with books, clothes on racks, food and drinks; there is something for everyone. The colour orange also plays an important role, colouring the streets and even the people themselves.

Another very important day in the Netherlands is May 5th, Liberation Day. On this day liberation from the Germans during the Second World War is celebrated. There are a couple of traditions that are still to this day held in high regard. There is the liberation fire, which is ignited on May 4th and burns all the way through the celebration. There is also a national minute of silence, where you can hear a pin drop in all of the country. And there are a number of festivals and concerts across the country.

Then there is Sinterklaas. This holiday is regarded more as a Christmas for kids. The celebration features a white bearded man dressed in red, arriving by boat from Spain…or at least that’s the story the kids get! Sinterklaas and his helpers give gifts, pepernoten (a delicious Dutch snack), and if they are bad, take the children back with him to Spain in a bag. The Dutch love Sinterklaas—both young and old.

Netherlands’ Festivals 2018

Pinkpop is a yearly festival that is considered the biggest in the Netherlands. It is held on the Pentecost weekend, which in Dutch is called Pinksteren. Thus, the name Pinkpop. Many famous music artists will perform this year, including Pearl Jam, the Foo Fighters, and Bruno Mars.

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) is held yearly in the city of Rotterdam. Many films are shown during this almost two week-long festival, but also many short films and documentaries. It is a fabulous festival to visit, sit down, and relax with a (hopefully) good movie.

Although it may not be a festival, if you are in the Netherlands during spring, be sure to visit Keukenhof. This amazing and famous flower garden is said to be one of, if not the most, photographed places in the world. It is also the perfect place to see all the beautiful flowers Holland is known for.

Other Noteworthy Events

  • GLOW Eindhoven
  • North Sea Jazz Festival
  • Zwarte Cross
  • Lowlands
  • Open Garden Days of Amsterdam

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