December 31st, and January 1st: Old year's eve and New year
On Old year's eve, public transport stops at 8:00 PM, so make sure to arrive at your destination in time! Cab's will be very hard to get and must be reserved a long time before. On New Year's day most shops and restaurants will be closed, but in general Chinese restaurants will be open. The Dutch celebrate Old Year's eve normally at home, but the number of people going out is increasing. Traditionally we eat "Oliebollen" a bit like donuts but much better. Always ask for Oliebollen with raisins, they simply taste better. You can buy them everywhere in shops and special stands, but quality is very diverse. Best is to buy them at a baker's shop.
At midnight many Dutch will celebrate with private fire works. Normally its use will be allowed from 10:00 AM till 3:00 AM January 1st. Use outside these hours will result in a fine.
Dutch people celebrate Christian Easter. We have a day off on monday as well. Then many shops will be closed, except large furniture shops, which form a public attraction for the second Easter day Large crowds will go shopping for new furniture then.
April 30th: Queens day
This day we celebrate being a kingdom. Originally people went to the royal palace in Soestdijk to bring flowers and gifts to our former queen Juliana for her birthday. When Beatrix got the throne, she decided to celebrate on this day (maybe because her birthday is January 31st, which is not known for good weather), but change the program. On this day the royal family visits a large town and a village in one of the provinces. In may towns people are allowed to sell stuff on "free markets" (in fact flea markets) and you may see a large number of more or less folklorist activities. Amsterdam is the centre of the party and will be very crowded, with over half a million visitors typically. Many will come by train, so be aware that trains for Amsterdam will be over crowded.
Shop, including supermarkets will be closed in the afternoon.
May 1st: Labour Day
Dutch people don't celebrate labour day.
May 4th: Memorial day
On May 4th the Dutch will remember the death of the second world war and other wars Dutch were involved. At 8:00 PM 2 minutes of silence should be respected.
May 5th: Liberation day
On may the fifth the Dutch celebrate freedom. It is the day the German capitulation was signed in Wageningen. Strangely, Dutch people do not get a day of, but every five years government institutes will be closed. Shops will be open. Ever the country there will be freedom festivals organized. I can recommend to visit Wageningen that day (take a train to Ede-Wageningen, then a bus ride of 15 minutes with bus 88 to Wageningen bus station. The bus leaves at the back side of the station). In Wageningen in the afternoon there is a veteran show, with many guests from all over the world and a large festival.
Ascension day is a day off for the Dutch. All shops are closed, restaurants will be open but busy. Ascension day always is celebrated on Thursday, so many people take a day off on Friday for a short holiday. A tradition for Ascension day "Dauwtrappen" (Dew treading). People get up very early at sun rise and go for a hiking or biking tour, which normally ends with breakfast.
Warning: campings will be very crowded if the weather is good, reservation is strongly recommended!
As with Eastern, we celebrate both on Sunday and Monday. Nothing special happens, but all shops will be closed and camping sites will be very crowded.
December 5th, Saint Nicolas
Shops will close a bit early. For more information on Saint Nicolas see the Sinterklaas page on this site.
December 25th, 26th Christmas
Please be aware that on Boxing day, shops will be closed. Christmas is celebrated at home with a Christmas tree and Christmas dinner. Restaurants may be crowded, reservation is absolutely required. Hotels will be expensive due to special Xmas arrangements.