This extensive list of festivals in the Netherlands proves the Dutch people's love for parties – you’re bound to see a celebration taking place in just about every city in the Netherlands at some time throughout the year. While Amsterdam hosts most of the country’s largest dance music festivals, neighbouring cities such as Breda and Rotterdam have their very own unique Dutch celebrations you won’t find anywhere else. 

Springtime festivals in the Netherlands celebrate the colourful blooms of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, and bluebells, while wintery months see major squares blanketed with Christmas markets and celebrations of Saint Nicholas. Experience the uniqueness of Dutch culture by planning your trip around a festival in the Netherlands. 

  • 1

    Spring opening of Keukenhof Gardens

    March–May: See acres of flowers in full bloom

    Spring opening of Keukenhof Gardens

    Springtime in the Netherlands is the best time to see a colourful display of flowers blooming in Keukenhof Gardens, one of the world’s largest flower gardens. Every year, this popular festival in the Netherlands draws thousands of people looking to snap photos of the gorgeous landscape. 

    Covering an area of 80 acres in Lisse, you can see millions of flowers in full bloom, including tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, bluebells, and crocuses. If you’re visiting in April, you might be able to see a stunning flower parade passing through Keukenhof Gardens.

    Location: Stationsweg 166A, 2161 AM Lisse, Netherlands

    Open: March–May

  • 2

    Flower Parade (Bloemencorso)

    April: Gigantic parades made up of flowers

    Flower Parade (Bloemencorso)

    Flowers take the centre stage again with the Netherlands’ annual Flower Parade, which takes place over the course of 4 days in April. Around 20 parade floats and unique vehicles are decorated with colourful flowers, including the country’s famous tulips and daffodils. 

    Travelling from Noordwijk to Haarlem, the 42-km-long procession is often accompanied by marching bands and street performers. After arriving in the final destination, the flower floats are displayed in central Haarlem for viewing (and photo-taking).

    Location: Noordwijk to Haarlem, Netherlands

    Open: 4 days in April

    photo by W. Bulach (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

  • 3

    King’s Day (Koningsdag)

    27th April: Orange clothes are compulsory

    King’s Day (Koningsdag)

    King’s Day commemorates the birth of King Willem-Alexander with street parades, dance parties and live music on 27th April. One of the largest festivals in the Netherlands, thousands of people of all ages make their way to central Amsterdam, where colourful boat parties decorate the 17th-century canals, and live bands perform along the streets of Rembrandtsplein and Prinsengracht. 

    There’s also a vrijmarkt (free market), where you can shop for second-hand goods and Dutch delicacies during the event. The dress code for King’s Day is anything and everything orange, from shirts, pants and dresses, to wigs, hair ties, and face paint. 

    Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Open: April 27th

    photo by Vinicius Pinheiro (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

  • 4

    Holland Festival

    June: Enjoy various performing arts in Amsterdam

    Holland Festival

    Head to Amsterdam to enjoy traditional and modern performances at the annual Holland Festival, one of the largest performing arts festivals in the Netherlands. Every June, major Dutch and international companies perform in Amsterdam’s concert halls, such as International Theater Amsterdam, Westergasfabriek, Royal Theater Carré, and Muziekgebouw. Performances range from classical and world music, opera and theatre, to visual arts, film and multimedia. 

    Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Open: June–July

    photo by Philippe Salgarolo (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

  • 5

    Rotterdam Summer Carnival (Zomercarnaval)

    July: A celebration of Latin American culture and dance in Rotterdam

    Rotterdam Summer Carnival (Zomercarnaval)

    The Rotterdam Summer Carnival is one of the largest Latin American celebrations in Europe. Street parades made up of over 2,000 Latin dancers, brass bands, and 30 colourful floats take over the streets during the day, followed by a line-up of 60 musicians performing at outdoor stages set up throughout the city centre. 

    No festival in the Netherlands is complete without indulging in delicious food and the Summer Carnival doesn’t disappoint. Mercado Market covers central Rotterdam’s Coolsingel Street with hundreds of vendors serving dishes from all over the world, from Spanish, Surinam and Hindi, to Chinese, Dutch and Antillean.

    Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands

    Open: 2 days in July

    photo by Peter van der Sluijs (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

  • 6

    Amsterdam Gay Pride

    August: Take part in the world’s only floating gay pride

    Amsterdam Gay Pride

    The Amsterdam Gay Pride celebrates world’s LGBT community with a vibrant canal parade, street parties, and open-air concerts over the course of an August weekend. One of the world’s largest gay festivals, it kicks off with a gathering and opening speech at the Homomonument on Westermarkt, followed by a Pride in the Park concert at Vondelpark. 

    The Canal Parade on Saturday sees around 80 decorated boats with DJs, go-go dancers, and drag queens sailing through the historical canals from 12:30pm until 6pm. For about 2 weeks, dance parties and DJ sets take place at numerous open spaces and nightclubs in the city, and the parties keep going right through the night and into the morning.

    Location: Amsterdam

    Open: 7 days in August

  • 7

    Amsterdam Canal Festival (Grachtenfestival)

    August: Classical concerts along Amsterdam’s canal rings

    Amsterdam Canal Festival (Grachtenfestival)

    The Amsterdam Canal Festival is a 10-day event celebrating the city’s UNESCO-listed canals. Over 150 classical music concerts take place at various locations surrounding Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht (Prince Canal), from concert halls and museums, to canal homes and cruise ships. 

    A highlight of Amsterdam Canal Festival is the Prinsengracht Concert, held on a pontoon near the Pulitzer Hotel. You can also enjoy free concerts on the streets or from boats docked along the canal side. 

    Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Open: 10 days in mid-August

    photo by Elekes Andor (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

  • 8

    Redhead Day (Roodharigendag)

    September: One of the world’s largest gatherings of redheads

    Redhead Day (Roodharigendag)

    Roodharigendag is known as the quintessential gathering for redheads from all over the world, making it one of the most unique festivals in the Netherlands. It takes place every 1st weekend of September in Breda, a quaint city about 50 km south of Rotterdam. 

    There are many family-friendly activities throughout the 3-day festivity, including exhibitions, fashion shows, and workshops – mostly free of charge. Roodharigendag’s main event involves a photoshoot with all the red-haired attendees – over 6,000 proud redheads of various nationalities. 

    Location: Breda, Netherlands

    Open: 1st weekend of September

    photo by Eddy Van 3000 (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

  • 9

    Amsterdam Dance Event

    October: Over 450 dance parties packed in 5 days

    Amsterdam Dance Event

    Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) is one of the world’s leading electronic music festivals. Every October, the city hosts over 450 parties with a total line-up of 2,200 internationally acclaimed artists.

    During the day, ADE hosts conferences by global electronic music experts and programs for aspiring musicians, marketing managers, and tech start-ups. The event also showcases pop-up events related to film, music, art, and photography.

    Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Open: 5 days in October

    photo by Guilhem Vellut (CC BY 2.0) modified

  • 10

    GLOW Festival

    November: A massive exhibition of light in Eindhoven

    GLOW Festival

    GLOW Festival illuminates Eindhoven (the birthplace of Philips electronics) with a massive display of artificial lights. Every November, impressive light art and designs are set up along a 6-km route within the city, with colourful projections decorating public spaces and important buildings such as Catharina Church. 

    You can take part in GLOW Run, a fun run where you can dress up in light-reflecting accessories and costumes, while passing by the city’s light installations. Each year, the route changes location to highlight different neighbourhoods within Eindhoven. 

    Location: Eindhoven, Netherlands

    Open: 7 days in early November

    photo by Steven Lek (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

  • 11

    Scheveningen Fireworks Festival

    December: Fireworks displays over the course of 2 weekends

    Scheveningen Fireworks Festival

    The Scheveningen Fireworks Festival is a free-for-all annual event in Scheveningen, a popular seaside district in The Hague. It takes place over the course of 2 weekends in December, and draws spectators to the beach with some of the world’s most impressive fireworks displays. 

    Every year, competitors attempt to outdo one another in hopes of winning the Scheveningen Fireworks Trophy. Grab a seat at one of the promenade’s beachfront cafes for views of the illuminated night sky.

    Location: Scheveningen, The Hague, Netherlands

    Open: 2 weekends in August

    photo by Epic Fireworks (CC BY 2.0) modified

  • 12

    Sinterklaas Parade

    November–December: One of the world’s largest Saint Nicholas parades

    Sinterklaas Parade

    The Amsterdam Sinterklaas Parade celebrates Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children and an important Dutch figure. The annual festival in the Netherlands typically takes place from mid-November till early-December, and features a colourful parade through Amsterdam.

    Sinterklaas, together with his assistants (Zwarte Pieten), kicks off the event with a steamboat ride along the Amstel River, disembarking at the Maritime Museum. He makes his way to Dam Square, where spectators gather for a vibrant celebration of acrobatic performances, live bands, and spiced cookies being given out by the Zwarte Pieten. This festival is especially popular with children, as they receive gifts from Sinterklaas on the final day. 

    Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

    Open: About 2 weeks in mid-November

    photo by Sander van der Wel (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller