December is just a few weeks away; can you believe we’re only 7 weeks away from Christmas? I hope you are just as excited as I am. The Dutch have a big celebration before Christmas, they celebrate Sinterklaas on the 5th of December. Sinterklaas is based on the historical figure of Saint Nicholas. The tradition of Sinterklaas dates back to at least early 19th Century.
Get ready for this year’s Sinterklaas. The official schedule can be found on the Groningen tourist website. The parade through the city center will start at 14.15 o’clock. Make sure to check it out!
Next, we have Christmas and then New Year’s Eve. There is a very bizarre Dutch tradition on the New Year’s day, called the Nieuwejaarduik. To cure their hangovers, the Dutch like to dive into the freezing cold North sea on the 1st of January. It’s become quite a popular tradition, even foreigners visit the Netherlands especially for this.
In February comes the carnival. This year it’s from the 11th to 13th of February. Carnival is a holiday mainly celebrated in the south of the Netherlands in provinces such as Limburg or Noord-Brabant, the predominantly Catholic provinces of the Netherlands. The celebrations start after the mayor symbolically hands over the key to the city to the prince of the Carnival giving them the control of the city for 3 days. The party starts with colorful costumes, music and people having fun on the streets. Don’t forget to greet the Prince of the Carnival with 3 cheers of “Alaaf”.
Although you may have to travel a bit to celebrate this tradition, it so worth it and if you are looking for some travel tips on how to find cheap tickets make sure to read our previous blog post “5 tips to travel the Netherlands with little money.” There you can find all the tips and travel help so you can get to south of Netherlands and celebrate carnival cheaply and with a ton of fun.
4. King’s day
March is a pretty standard month for the Dutch. In April, the craziness begins. Of course, we have Easter but the exciting events are on Friday the 27th of April! Koningsdag – the birthday of the King. During this national holiday, the whole of the Netherlands turns into a party. Everyone dresses in orange. There are Dj’s playing on streets, boat parties on the canals, live music and festivals. One of the famous festivals is Kingsland Festival. Great music, and an amazing atmosphere! I can’t wait!
And this time, the King of the Netherlands will come visit Groningen!
Liberation day – Bevrijdingsdag is a national holiday on the 5th of May, celebrating the Dutch liberalization of German occupation in 1945. The day is celebrated with the values of freedom, human rights, and democracy. During the day, there any many celebrations such as the Bevrijdingsfestival. I attend it last year and it has some great line-ups. I had a really awesome time, listened to amazing music, drank too much and partied until the morning with my friends. Most amazingly – the festival is free. Make sure to visit Stadspark on the 5th of May!
Then comes the summer and Groningen becomes a ghost town as all the students leave to go back home. Although during KEI week the city fills up again. There are many more traditions but this is just a simple guide to get you started!
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Written by Dominika Dabrowska – PR committee
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