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Public Holidays in the Netherlands

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.

Liberation Day is always observed on 5 May, regardless of whether this day falls on a Sunday or a religious holiday. The approval of festivities in a municipality is decided by the respective mayor. This may be related, for example, to Sunday rest.

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.

On 5 May 2025 will Liberation Day be an official day off: Most collective agreements agree that 5 May only applies as a paid day off in anniversary years, i.e. every five years.

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.

More information: https://www.bevrijdingsfestivals.nl/

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.

Liberation Day in Wageningen: A Symbol of Freedom and Cooperation

The Liberation Day in Wageningen is not just a national holiday commemorating the end of German occupation in the Netherlands in 1945, but also a symbol of profound international cooperation. Wageningen, as the historic site of the capitulation signing, is at the heart of these commemorative events. Every year on 5 May, the National Commemoration of the 1945 Capitulations takes place here, an international ceremony featuring various traditional elements, including a fly-over of historical aircraft, wreath-laying ceremonies, and the performance of the national anthem.

The celebrations continue with the Freedom Parade, a military parade that honours the liberation by the Allies and demonstrates the ongoing military cooperation between countries such as Belgium, the United Kingdom, and the USA. This year is particularly notable as it marks the lead-up to the 80th anniversary of peace and serves as a tribute to international military cooperation.

Alongside this, Wageningen transforms into a vibrant hub of culture and art with the Liberation Festival Gelderland. Various stages showcase a wide spectrum of music and cultural performances, reflecting the motto "From Mass to Meaning." A special area, "Vrijland" (Freedom Land), is set up for children, where they can learn about freedom and democracy in a playful manner while being creatively engaged.

In addition to the official commemorations, the Meet & Greet area in the Belmonte Arboretum offers a platform for interactions between veterans and visitors, framed by musical performances and exhibitions. Liberation Day in Wageningen is therefore not only a remembrance of historical events but also an active promotion of peace and international solidarity in the present.

Vrijheidssdefilé Wageningen

The end of the Second World War did not mean the end of war in the world. People still suffer daily from war and human rights violations. Therefore, 5 May is also the day on which we can be aware that we are free and that we should cherish this freedom.

Freedom Torch

Public Holiday

Bevrijdingsdag is an official holiday in the Netherlands.

Work on Public Holiday?

Although Liberation Day, celebrated on May 5th, is an official holiday in the Netherlands, not everyone is granted time off. Legislation does not mandate time off, so employees should consult their employer or review their employment contract or collective agreement for specific details.

Note: Only on 5 May 2025 will Liberation Day be considered an official public holiday. Many collective agreements stipulate that 5 May is only recognised as a paid holiday in anniversary years, i.e. every five years.

Opening Hours

Retail stores are generally not permitted to open, but some supermarkets may operate with varying hours, subject to municipal permits. Customers are advised to check with the store in advance.

Dining establishments, such as restaurants, cafes, and pubs, remain open.

Public institutions are typically closed on this day. Children are likely to have the day off, as schools are almost always closed for Bevrijdingsdag, which often coincides with school holidays.

Flag Protocol

In the Netherlands, there are no legal regulations for the use of the flag, only for the flying of flags on government buildings. As a citizen, business, or organisation, you are allowed to fly the flag on any day of the year. However, there are customs and protocols for flying the flag. These are set out in the flag instructions. Citizens, businesses, and organisations can follow the instructions as a guideline.

On 5 May, the national flag (without pennant) may be flown from sunrise to sunset. If the flag remains hanging at night, it is customary to illuminate it so that the colours are clearly visible. The flag can also be combined with the municipal flag, the provincial flag, or the flags of other countries that were involved in the liberation.

15 August - Official End of World War II in the Kingdom of the Netherlands

The National Commemoration on 15 August 1945 has been held annually since 1988 at the Indisch Monument in The Hague. This commemorative event honours the end of the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies and of World War II. It is also known as the Nationale Indiëherdenking.

For the Kingdom of the Netherlands, World War II officially ended on 15 August 1945, whereas for the Netherlands itself, it had already ended on 5 May 1945. For the two million Indian Dutch, there were no commemorative events for the events during the war in the Dutch East Indies and their aftermath. It was not until 1988 that an annual commemoration was introduced.

The first commemoration took place on 15 August 1970 in The Hague. Due to the need for repetition, the Stichting Herdenking 15 Augustus 1945 was established by 24 Indian organisations on 25 March 1980. Since 1988, the Indisch Monument in The Hague has commemorated all victims of the Japanese occupation and its immediate consequences. The Melati, the Indian jasmine, is worn as a symbol of respect, commitment, and compassion.

On this day, the general flag instructions apply. This means that on 15 August, the flag is flown at all Rijksgebouwen (state buildings) to honour the formal end of World War II in the Kingdom.

More information: https://15augustus1945.nl/