Throughout the year there’s a lot going on in Holland. Art, music and folklore festivals are held in different towns and cities, mainly during the summer season. It’s good to know what’s on when you’re planning a holiday so as try to make it coincide with some of the popular events in the Netherlands. The following events diary takes you on a journey through the Netherlands along all the main events the country has to offer.
~ January – February ~
Rotterdam International Film Festival (late January to beginning Feb)
The Rotterdam International Film Festival is one of the most popular events of this genre in Europe. The Festival is held every year around the end of January in the city of Rotterdam. More than 300 indie films are screened at theaters around town.
Holland Flowers Festival (mid to late Feb)
The Holland Flower Festival is 4.500 square metres fest of colours, fragrance and beauty. This enormous flower and plant show offers an amazing display of blooms such as tulips, irises, daffodils and others. Apart from the exhibition, you can find everything related to gardening products.
~ March – May ~
Keukenhof Gardens (late march to late may)
The Keukenhof offers a breathtakingly display of flowers such as hyacinths, daffodils, narcissi, amaryllis, azaleas and the famous Dutch tulips. Starting from late March, this 70 acres park is covered with a coloured carpet of about seven million flowers.
Alkmaar Traditional Cheese Market (April to September)
Alkmaar is the only place in the Netherlands where traditional cheese market rituals are held. Here you can taste and experience the ancient Dutch market life. Cheese carriers in their historical costumes pile up cheeses on the cobblestone main square of Alkmaar.
The Alkmaar Cheese Market takes place in Alkmaar’s main square every Friday at 10 a.m., from the second Friday in April to the second Friday in September. More>>
National Museum Weekend (2nd week of April)
The National museum weekend is held every year during the 2nd week of April and offers people the chance to visit more than 500 museums all over Holland at a reduced price, or even for free.
Spring Dance Utrecht (mid to end april)
The spring Dance Festival is an international cutting edge festival. Apart from traditional theatre settings, performances take place in public areas around the city of Utrecht.
Rotterdam Marathon (last Sunday of April)
The Rotterdam Marathon is considered to be one of the top ten marathons in the world. It is also the most important marathon in the Netherlands, attracting many top athletes from around the world.
Queen’s Day (April 30)
Queen’s day commemorates the Queen’s mother birthday. The craziest day in the Netherlands, everywhere turns orange (House of Orange) and people party hard in the streets.
Amersfoort Jazz Festival (early May)
Amersfoort Jazz festival is an open air jazz festival and has 8 stages spread throughout the old city centre of Amersfoort.
Eurasian Festival (mid to end May)
Without any doubts, this festival is the largest of its kind. This festival attracts around 100,000 visitors annually making it the largest likely Eurasian festival in the world. This large market presents a mixture of culture, theatre, music, dance, exhibitions of the former Dutch East Indies. The Eurasian festival is held on the Malieveld in the centre of The Hague, about five minutes walking distance from the Central Railway Station and 45 minutes by train or car to reach The Hague from Amsterdam.
Breda Jazz Festival (early May)
The Breda Jazz festival is one of the top jazz events in the Netherlands. This festival offers live performances from local and international acts in jazz, blues and early American folk. The festival features around 150 performances on 12 outdoor and six indoor stages.
~ May -June ~
Scheveningen Sand Sculpture Festival (mid May to early June)
Be ready to enter a realm of wonders and magic. The Sand sculpture festival is an awful competition among international teams, each of them trying to build the ultimate creation to impress!
Scheveningen Flag Day (May 30)
The coast and harbour of Scheveningen officially open the herring season as soon as herring ships race to bring the first herring to Queen Beatrix. On this particular day, flags fly everywhere and a lot of people ready to taste the appetizing herring!
Holland Festival; Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague (throughout June)
The Holland festival is one of the main cultural events in the Netherlands. This cultural buffet brings together international performers in theatre, dance music and opera.
Landgraaf Pinkpop Festival (early June)
Pinkpop is the most popular open-air festival in Holland. Pinkpop delivers some of the best singers and bands to date. This 3 day festival is visited by approximately 60.000 people with performances on 3 separate stages.
Oerol Festival (mid June)
The Oerol Festival is a yearly multi – disciplinary festival on the beautiful island Terschellings in the north of Holland. This event offers visual arts, theatre and dance. For ten days, the natural beauty of the island inspires the creativity and work of local and international theatre producers, musicians and graphic artists. Performances take place in the villages, on the beaches and other parts of the island.
~ June – July ~
Middelburg International Festival (mid June to mid July)
Middelburg international festival is a new avant-garde music festival offering outdoor concerts and opera.
~ July – August ~
Woodstock 69 (July to August)
Woodstock 69 is held on Bloemendaal beach along the North Sea coast. This festival features live percussion, dance acts and local/international dj’s.
The North Sea Jazz Festival (early July)
The North Sea jazz festival is the biggest jazz festival in the world. It offers many styles of jazz such as New Orleans jazz, avant-garde jazz, electronic jazz and more. Alongside this, one can enjoy blues, gospel, funk, soul, hip hop, R&B and latin music. If you love this kind of music, make sure to be part of the 60,000 to 70,000 yearly visitors.
Drentse Fiets 4daagse (mid July)
Drentse fiets 4daagse is a four day cycling event, with routes raging from 40km to 150km. The four main starting locations are Assen, Emmen, Hoogeveen en Meppel.
Nijmegen Internationale Vierdaagse Afstandmarsen (late July)
The Four Days Marches is one of the most popular walking events in the world. With over 30,000 participants and average distance ranging from 30km to 50km per day, this event attracts people from all over the world. Many participants join this big event for pure pleasure and/or to test their physical marching limits!
Sneek International Sailing Event (early August)
Sneek international sailing event is a week long sailing festival in the town of Sneek. This one of a kind festival offers a number of water events and races. The final race of the skûtsjesilen competition and the fleet show through the canal are two of the most popular events.
Amsterdam Pride (1st or 2nd weekend of August)
Amsterdam pride is a big 3-day gay and lesbian festival. The highlight of the festival is the Canal Parade, a colourful and amazing display of more than 80 floats parading through the city canals.
International Delft Chamber Music Festival (early to mid Aug)
The International Delft Chamber Festival is an annual international music festival bringing together some of the top musicians to date. This extraordinary event offers 16 different Chamber music concerts.
Canal Festival and Prinsengracht Canal Concert (mid August)
The Grachtenfestival is an annual classical music festival offering performances by renowned orchestras and soloists on special locations in the city of Amsterdam and the IJ banks. The highlight of the festival is the concert held on a pontoon stage floating on the Prinsengracht Canal.
~ September – October ~
Aalsmeer Flower Parade (early September)
The Alsmeer flower Parade is held every year in early September in the city of Alsmeer, Amsterdam and its suburbs and outlying villages. This annual flower event offers a long stream of flower-decorated floats parading around the streets in a colourful procession. Around 19 local committees contribute to the fabulous arrangements of over a million flowers, in a showcase for the latest trends in Dutch floriculture and floristry.
Corso Zundert Flower Parade (early September)
Corso Zundert flower parade is held in Zundert, in the South of the Netherlands. Locals there are crazy about flower parades, a tradition their grannies and granddads started way back in 1936. By the First Sunday of September the fever burns within them. Will the moving floats be finished in time? Are there enough dahlias? And who is going to win this time? Come to Zundert and share the experience!
Gaudeamus Music Week (early September)
The Gaudeamus Music Week focuses on young composers and a jury of reputed international composers is established to select the compositions for performance during the festival in September in Amsterdam. The Noord-Hollands Philharmonic Orchestra is the “house” orchestra and concerts take place throughout the week in various halls and churches throughout the city.
Amsterdam City Marathon (early/mid October)
Amsterdam city marathon makes part of the IAAF Golden League and ranked within the top twelve marathons of the world. Much of the credited success is due to the flat terrain, stunning architecture and little traffic that characterizes the Amsterdam Marathon.
~ November – December ~
St Nicholas parades throughout the country (mid November)
St Nicholas is a traditional Dutch holiday celebrated every year on the 5th of December. This event is celebrated mostly by children by exchanging gifts, eating ‘papernoten’, traditional sweets and chocolate letters and reading poems to each other.