There are several national holidays in Holland, such as Easter and King's Day. In addition to these official days off, the Dutch enjoy their holidays at several times throughout the year. Read all about national holidays and holiday periods in Holland.
Holidays and festivals
In Holland there are a multitude of official and traditional holidays that the Dutch enjoy celebrating. On the first of January, some Dutch people greet the New Year by taking an invigorating plunge into cold water, for instance the traditional New Year’s Day ´Dip in the Sea´ on the beach in Scheveningen.
In February, Carnival is celebrated in many regions, with traditional costumed parades and partying. In addition, the American tradition of Valentine’s Day is gaining in popularity each year.
The Dutch enjoy a long weekend off for Easter. The day before Easter, Good Friday, is a national holiday but some people still have to work depending on what they do. Municipal and government organisations are closed, however. Searching for hidden (chocolate) Easter eggs is a beloved tradition in Holland.
The biggest celebration of the year takes place every year on April 27. This is ´King´s Day´ in Holland, and throughout the country festivities take place, with everything and everyone decked out in the colour orange – the colour of the royal family, the ‘House of Orange’. In many Dutch cities, the King's Day festivities start the night before the actual holiday this is a special celebration called ‘King’s Night’. Live shows and concerts are held on city squares and you can enjoy the festive atmosphere in many pubs and cafés that turn orange for the occasion, for instance in The Hague, Utrecht and Amsterdam.
On the fourth of May, the Day of Remembrance, special ceremonies are held in many cities and towns in Holland, to remember and honor both the civilians and the military personnel who have died as victims of wars and military peace-keeping missions. On May 5, Liberation Day is celebrated with concerts and festivals, such as Bevrijdingspop (´Liberation Pop´) in Haarlem.
The festival called Vlaggetjesdag (‘Flag Dag´), usually held around the first weeks of June, centers on the arrival of the first ´new herring´ catch in fishing ports. This is the official opening of the herring season and attracts a lot of visitors, especially in Scheveningen.
The summer recess of government workers in the Hague ends on the third Tuesday in September. On that day, the so-called Prinsjesdag (Princes’ Day, also called ‘Budget Day’), the ruling monarch holds a ‘Speech from the Throne’ to publicly announce the political guidelines and budget for the coming year. On this day as well, the Royal Family rides through The Hague in a parade in the horse-drawn ‘Golden Coach’.
The feast of St. Nicolas, who is called Sinterklaas in Holland, is celebrated on December 5. Sinterklaas is much more important in Holland than Santa Claus. As soon as Sinterklaas departs, the Christmas tree is put up and everything becomes Christmas themed. You can visit several Christmas markets, such as the famous Dickens Festival in Deventer. The biggest Christmas market is organised in Dordrecht. Small ice skating rinks are set up in many cities and villages. Holland celebrates two days of Christmas: 1st and 2nd Christmas Day. People usually celebrate the holiday with their family and friends. Nearly every home in Holland has a decorated Christmas tree for Christmas. The Dutch celebrate the end of the year with Oudejaarsavond – the last evening of the ´Old Year´, with champagne and fireworks.
Public holidays in 2016
|New Year’s Day||January 1, 2016|
|Good Friday||March 25, 2016|
|Easter||March 27 and 28, 2016|
|Kings Day||April 27, 2016|
|Liberation Day||May 5, 2016|
|Ascension Day||May 5, 2016|
|Whitsun Weekend||May 15 and 16, 2016|
|Christmas||December 25 and 26, 2015/2016|
School holidays in Holland
Holland has staggered holidays and therefore not everyone has holidays at the same time. There are a couple of weeks’ difference. The staggered holidays were introduced to reduce extremely busy situations and traffic jams.
School holidays in 2016
|Spring holidays:||Southern provinces and Central Holland||20 February - 28 February 2016|
|Northern provinces||27 February - 7 March 2016|
|May holidays:||Throughout Holland||30 April - 8 May 2016|
|Summer holidays:||Northern provinces||16 July - 28 August 2016|
|Central Holland||9 July - 21 August 2016|
|Southern provinces||23 July - 4 September 2016|
|Autumn Holidays:||Northern provinces and Central Holland||17 October - 25 October 2015|
|Southern provinces||24 October - 1 November 2015|
|Christmas Holidays:||Throughout Holland||19 december - 3 january 2016|