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Public Holidays in the Netherlands

When I am planning my vacation, I always like to know what days are public holidays in the Netherlands. A vacation during the peak season means higher prices, crowded places, but it also ensures me that all museums and sights are open. A bonus is that some museums, like Anne Frank House and Van Gogh Museum are open until late in the evening, meaning shorter queues in front of the ticket office. On the downside hotels and flights are more expensive. The peak season is from end of June to early September. This is also the time that Dutch weather is at its best. On the other hand, if you want to avoid the crowded theme parks, packed beaches and congested roads, off peak travel is best for you.

Why Vacation during Public Holidays in the Netherlands

My advice is to come to the Netherlands during public holidays in April and May for two good reasons. On 30 April, Amsterdam and also the rest the Netherlands celebrate Queen Beatrix’s Birthday, a day when the whole country colors orange. There is a whole gamut of outdoor festivities throughout the country. The end of April heralds the opening of Keukenhof Flower Garden. The gardens are ablaze with color. Red, yellow and pink tulips in all sizes and shapes are the attention grabbers and are at their best during the public holiday period in spring.

Public Holidays in the Netherlands in 2018

1 January: New Year’s Day. Banks, shops and public services are closed.

22 April: Good Friday, Fridays before Easter. Banks, schools and public services are closed. Shops are open, but may close early.

24 and 25 April: Easter. Banks, public services and most shops are closed on Easter Sunday. Shopping malls, usually the ones outside city centers are open on Easter Monday.

30 April (29 April if 30 April is a Sunday): Queen’s Day, the official birthday of Queen Beatrix. Banks and public services are closed. Shops are open. This is the day Queen Beatrix celebrates her birthday together with all the Dutch people. Her real birthday is 31 January. On 30 April city centers turn into open air flea markets because anyone can sell anything without a license.

2 June: Ascension Day (40 days after Easter). Banks, public services and shops are closed. Many people also have the Friday off. This weekend is not the best time to spend in the Netherlands, because roads, city centers and the beach are packed.

12 and 13 June: Whitsun (also known as Pentecost, 7 weeks after Easter). Banks, public services and most shops are closed on Whit Sunday. Shopping malls, usually the ones outside city centers are open on Whit Monday.

25 and 26 December: Christmas. Banks, public services and shops are closed on Christmas Day. Shopping malls, usually the ones outside city centers may be open on Boxing Day.

31 December: New Year’s Eve. Banks, public services and shops close early, from 4pm.

Compensation for Public Holidays

When 25 and 26 December fall on a Saturday and Sunday, Dutch workers have bad luck. No compensation is given by ways of days off on Monday and Tuesday.

School Holidays in the Netherlands in 2018

  • Spring holiday: 19 – 27 February
  • May holiday: 30 April – 8 May
  • Summer holidays: 2 July – 4 September
  • Autumn holidays: 15 – 30 October
  • Christmas holidays: 24 December – 8 January 2019

The dates of school holidays in the Netherlands depend on the region where you are vacationing. There are different dates for northern, center and southern regions.

  • Northern region: the provinces of Friesland, Groningen Drenthe, Overijssel, Noord-Holland and Flevoland
  • Center Region: the provinces of Gelderland, Utrecht and Zuid-Holland
  • Southern Region: the provinces of Limburg, Noord Brabant and the City of Rotterdam
  • Schedule for 2018 Summer School Holidays
  • 23 July – 4 September – Northern region
  • 2 July – 14 August – central region
  • 9 July – 21 August – southern region

Days to Remember in 2018

Many of the following days are celebrated globally but some are typical of the Netherlands. These days are not official public holidays but may help you plan your vacation.

14 February, Valentine Day. Chocolate hearts and flowers cram the shops. The first tulips and hyacinths appear in the shops.

6 – 8 March, Carnival. Celebrations are not as exuberant as in Brazil. Carnival in the Netherlands is mainly celebrated in the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg. Many offices, public services and bank in the southern provinces are closed on Monday and Tuesday. The best carnival parades are in Maastricht, Eindhoven and ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

27 March, The Netherlands change over to summer time and put clocks one hour forward at 2 am

4 May at 8 pm, Remembrance Day. Wreath-laying ceremony at the National Monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam in commemoration of the victims of WW II. The ceremony is followed by two minutes silence at 8 pm

5 May, Liberation Day. Celebrations in commemoration of the liberation from Nazi occupation in 1945.

8 May, Mother’s Day. Flowers, mother’s day brunches, mother’s day concert and other events everywhere.

19 June, Father’s Day. Same as mother’s day but fewer flowers.

20 September, Prinsjesdag. Opening of Parliament. Queen Beatrix will announce the government policy for the next parliamentary session. Royalty spotters gather in the Hague to catch a glimpse of the Queen during the riding tour or at the balcony of Palais at Noordeinde.

4 October, Pets Day. Shops are filled with goodies for pets.

30 October, The Netherlands change over to winter time and put their clocks one hour forward at 2 pm.

5 December, Sinterklaas. Dutch answer to Father Christmas, the day when children get presents, but their fathers and mothers don’ t have a day. Sinterklaas is not a public holiday

Amsterdam and the Netherlands is a great destination, whether you come for a day, a week or a month. The list of official public holidays in the Netherlands helps you to decide when or when not to come to Amsterdam and the Netherlands.