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The Netherlands - Living

Public Holidays

Have you noticed that there are only a few public holidays in the Netherlands? Shops and supermarkets are sometimes open on the following holidays. There is also no legal regulation that work does not have to be done on a public holiday. Employees should therefore check with their employer.

  • New Years’s Day (Nieuwjaarsdag) – 1 January
  • Good Friday (Goede Vrijdag) - Friday before Easter
  • Easter (Pasen) – Sunday and Monday
  • King’s Day (Koningsdag) – 27 April - If 27 April falls on a Sunday, King's day is celebrated on the 26th
  • Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) – 5 May, official public holiday every 5 years, usually school and public organizations are closed (next in 2025)
  • Ascension Day (Hemelvaartsdag) – 40 days after Easter
  • Pentecost (Pinksteren) – 7 weeks after Easter, Sunday, and Monday
  • Christmas (Kerst) – 25 and 26 December

Carnival is celebrated in the south of the Netherlands. Although these are not official holidays either, many people in the carnival regions take the week off to celebrate. At the same time, schools have the spring holidays.

Good news for parents: Mother's Day and Father's Day are also celebrated in the Netherlands.

Every year on the third Tuesday in September is Prinsjesdag (Prince's Day). Even though this is not a public holiday, politically it is probably the most important day of the year.

In some regions, St. Martin's parades are organised around St. Martin's Day, i.e. 11 November.

St. Nicholas Eve on the eve of Sinterklaas, i.e. the evening of 5 December, is also called Sinterklaasavond or Pakjesavond. This is not an official holiday, but it is celebrated throughout the country. However, while the traditional name day of Saint Nicholas is on 6 December, it is Saint Nicholas Eve that is really celebrated in the Netherlands. During the day and even before, there are many events for children (for example Intocht van Sinterklaas).

We have marked and described all the holidays and special days in the calendar.

Liberation Day


On 5 May, the Bevrijdingsdag celebrate the end of the German occupation in the Second World War and the liberation of the former Dutch East Indies. The celebrations are associated with commemorative ceremonies, which are initiated the day before with the National Dodenherdenking.

The Netherlands also honors the great value of freedom, democracy and human rights on 5 May.

Since 1990, the 5th of May is a national holiday. This does not mean that May 5 is automatically a day off. The Dutch government has stipulated that workers and employers must make their own arrangements. Employees in the private sector have a day off on May 5, if this is agreed in the collective agreement. If this has not been agreed or if the sector does not have a collective agreement, the employer will decide the procedure. The public service staff, if it is in the collective agreement and in accordance with service permits, has a day off on May 5th.

During the night of 4th to 5th May, the mayor of Wageningen lights the fire in front of the historic Hotel de Wereld during the ceremony. From there, runners move across the country to spread the fire. It is an important moment for the Netherlands in the transition from the commemoration on 4 May and the celebration of freedom on 5 May. The Liberation Fire officially opens the fourteen liberation festivals.

Liberation festivals take place in 14 cities. Since 1991, the National Committees have appointed Dutch artists to be "Ambassadors of Freedom" on 4 and 5 May and are transported by helicopter from festival to festival.

The Dutch flag is raised on May 5 from sunrise to sunset, without orange pennants. A special pennant is available on Liberation Day, the “Vier Vrijheid” (celebrate freedom) pennant. This pennant is white with the red-blue logo of the torch with the freedom fire and the text "Vier Vrijheid". The flag may also be combined with the provincial flag, the city flag or flags of other countries participating in the liberation. The pennant can also be used on the 15th of August. Then it commemorates the end of World War II in the former Dutch East Indies.

Public holiday and no day off?

There is no law in the Netherlands stating that on certain holidays employees are not on work. Therefore, there is no legal entitlement to a day off on a public holiday. Your collective agreement or employment contract states whether you have to work or you have a day off.

Koningsdag is a paid day off for many people in the Netherlands. If you still have to work, then your work is likely to be remunerated extra. On Liberation Day, which is the official national holiday since 1990, only public service and training institutions have a day off. In many collective bargaining and employment contracts, special regulations are agreed, so that for example every five years the exemption day is a day off.

So it may be that you have to work on public holidays. This may be due to the nature of the business or activity. You are unlikely to work on any holiday of the year as most collective agreements restrict working hours on public holidays. If you do not have a collective agreement, you may have more freedom, but you still have to take into account the limitations of the Working Hours Act.

Rijksoverheid indicates all holidays and offers you some ways to determine if you have a day off or not.

For some years it is discussed whether the liberation day is not generally free of work and is exchanged for example with whit Monday or another church holiday.

When to fly the Dutch flag

The Netherlands has no legal regulation for the use of the national flag. As a citizen, business or organization you can hoist the flag on all days of the year. However, there are rules for the flagging of public buildings. These rules are in the vlaginstructie. It will indicate the special days of the year where flagging is required and explain how this must be done. Citizens, businesses and organizations can follow the instructions as a guideline. This is not mandatory. Dutch people will certainly be happy if you as a foreigner also fly the Dutch flag.