Champagne glass and fireworks

Important dates, festival and holidays

On national holidays people in the Netherlands have the day off work and though only (some) Christian holidays are recognised as national holidays, the right to take time off for a religious holiday is protected by law. Here is a list of important dates, most Dutch people receive off time for.

Dates official holidays

  2023 2024 2025
New Year’s Day 1 January 1 January 1 January
Good Friday 7 April 29 March 18 April
Easter 9 April 31 March 20 April
Easter Monday 10 April 1 April 21 April
King’s Day 27 April 27 April 26 April
Remembrance Day 4 May* 4 May* 4 May*
Liberation Day 5 May** 5 May** 5 May**
Ascension Day 18 May 9 May 29 May
Whit Sunday 28 May 19 May 8 June
Whit Monday 29 May  20 May 9 June
Sinterklaas 5 December* 5 December* 5 December*
Christmas Day 25 December 25 December 25 December
Boxing Day 26 December  25 December 25 December
New Year's Eve 31 December*

31 December*

31 December*

*This is not an official holiday

**This is only an official holiday once every 5 years; next in 2025.

Dutch holidays explained

New Year’s Day

New Year’s Eve is a huge celebration in the Netherlands, just like in any other country in the world. The Dutch have their very own traditions during this evening. They eat a lot of oliebollen (a traditional Dutch pastry: deep-fried dough balls with raisins) and watch the beautiful fireworks when the clock strikes 12. You can also join the fun, by lighting up fireworks as you are allowed to buy your own. Keep in mind that this is only allowed from 31 December 18.00 hrs to 1 January 02.00 hrs.

And if you are really brave and want to start the new year fresh, you can always join one of the many New Year swims on 1 January, with the most famous of all being the one in Scheveningen. Each year around 30,000 people participate in this Nieuwjaarsduik.



Easter is a real family event. The Dutch usually have a lovely Easter breakfast or brunch. Kids are painting Easter eggs or go look for them in the garden, while the grown-ups enjoy each other’s company. You can attend a beautiful performance of the Matthäus Passion, spend some time strolling past the many stands at one of the Easter markets or visit one of the Easter activities such as Paaspop.


King’s Day

One of the most famous Dutch festivities is King’s Day: the day on which we celebrate the King’s birthday. Be sure to dress in orange - the national color of the Netherlands - or else you will not fit in. The streets are filled with people dancing in their orange outfits and there are a lot of activities. There are street markets everywhere, where people sell their stuff and home-made treats. Bands are playing on every street corner and every pub is serving beer outside. Tradition dictates that the Royal family visits 1 or 2 municipalities in the country on this day, so with any luck you might see them yourself!

The Hague is to place to be if you are looking for something to do on the night before King’s day: King’s Night! On this night, well-known bands and DJ’s perform on the various squares in The Hague.


Remembrance Day

The Dutch find it very important to commemorate World War II. Therefore, they remember all of the victims of the World War II (and other wars) on May 4, National Remembrance Day. They celebrate being liberated on May 5, Liberation Day.

Remembrance Day began as a memorial day specifically for those killed in World War II, but since 1961 it has also included victims of other military conflicts and peacekeeping missions. The main ceremony on the Dam in Amsterdam is attended by the Dutch royal family and military leaders and veterans, with speeches and a flower-laying ceremony. In The Hague the memorial service takes place at the Waalsdorpervlakte, a remembrance ground to fallen resistance fighters. Keep in mind that there is a 2-minute silence at 20.00 hrs every year. Public transport and other traffic stop at this time. The services at the Dam and Waalsdorpervlakte are broadcasted live on TV. This is not a public holiday.


Liberation Day

Every 5th of May, the Netherlands marks the end of Nazi Germany occupation during World War II with a range of events and celebrations on Liberation Day. It is only a public holiday every 5 years (the next being in 2020), which means that in the other years you will not get a day off.

On Liberation Day, you should definitely visit one of the many Liberation Festivals taking place across the country. Throughout the country, Dutch bands and international musicians and DJs will perform live. Or go to any of the other Liberation Day events, such as military parades, debates, street theatre performances, festival markets, guided tours, film screenings and even ‘speed dating’ events where people can speak to veterans about their stories and experiences from the war.



In mid-November, 2 weeks before December 5, Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands by boat from his home in Spain. Many kids are welcoming Sinterklaas during his arrival (intocht) with their parents.

During the 2 weeks before his 'birthday', Sinterklaas rides across rooftops at night on his white horse, listening through chimneys for good children and leaving them gifts and sweets in their shoes. It is tradition that children put out their shoe at night with a carrot for the horse.

On December 5, Sinterklaas ends with Pakjesavond (Gifts Evening). On Pakjesavond, children anxiously wait for Sinterklaas to knock on their door. Although Sint will usually have flown by the time they answer, a sack full of gifts will await them on their doorstep. Following Sinterklaas' visit, each member of the family takes turns handing out presents and unwrapping them. Names are printed on each gift, and almost every present is accompanied by a humorous poem about the gift's recipient, sometimes teasing them about their good and bad habits. December 5 is not a public holiday.



Dutch Christmas consists of 2 days: Eerste Kerstdag (Christmas day) and Tweede Kerstdag (Boxing Day). The celebration is typified by family gatherings, during which delicious food and drinks are served. Some Dutch families give each other presents. Dutch streets and homes are filled with Christmas trees, lights and other decorations. In some cities, Christmas markets serve hot chocolate and mulled wine and sell winter themed gifts, art and antiques.