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new year's eve in the netherlands

All You Need to Know About Spending New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands

Wondering what those loud booming (and honestly, bomb-sounding) noises are outside day and night recently in the Netherlands? It’s fireworks.. and you haven’t seen nothing yet. With it being New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands right now, it’s time to brace yourself. There’s going to be a lotta fireworks ALL day, ALL night and beyond.

With New Year’s Eve finally here, I couldn’t not put an article out about it. (I planned to do this months ago and I’ve been too busy to get it done). It’s by far the most nuttiest day of the year and certainly something unimaginable unless you’re there. So without further ado, what is New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands like?

Here’s a taster 😉


What’s the Big Deal with New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands?

New Year’s Eve is a pretty big deal in the Netherlands. Like many of us, we love a good celebration. For the Dutch, this means that they can legally set off their own fireworks and have a celebration of their own. Any other time of the year, this is not allowed. This is what makes New Year’s Eve particularly special and also particularly mad. Many of my friends come to stay at mine for New Year just to experience it.

New Year’s Eve is certainly different in the Netherlands. The nice and reserved neighbourhood and people that you may be used to for 12 months of the year, suddenly become obsessed with fireworks. Okay – so pretty much every country enjoys a good firework display and it’s completely normal to see a tonne of fireworks around that time of year, but there’s honestly nothing quite like it when the day finally arrives.


Not Everyone Likes It…

Every year people take to the internet to ask why fireworks are going off every day of the week and people asking where they can take their animals to give them a break away from it all. Every year hospitals have to deal with the influx of people seeking medical treatment for firework related injuries. It’s certainly not without its controversies. The Netherlands certainly isn’t the only country with this problem. However, you definitely notice just how many people are playing around with them dangerously and it’s all over the internet.

For me, I like NYE, but I’m a pretty nervous person, so I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me on edge. Sometimes it makes it more fun and sometimes it just makes you feel totally uneasy. The first year I was in the Netherlands, I decided to spend New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam and we headed to Dam Square. I didn’t last very long there as it was pretty terrifying for me (I’m a pretty anxious person at the best of times).

new year's eve in the netherlands

New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands isn’t just a few sparklers


The noise was unbearably loud and there was a lot of smoke from fireworks being set off everywhere. People were just throwing them onto the ground and they were going off all over the place. If you’ve seen the many Dam Square videos on YouTube you’ll get what I mean (one of them shows a guy blowing his hand off – don’t watch if you can’t handle the gore btw).


What Is the Law on Fireworks in the Netherlands?

Firework laws in the Netherlands are strict. However, they are relaxed at New Year’s. This means that people can only buy fireworks 3 days leading up to New Year’s Eve and they are only allowed to set them off between the hours of 6pm and 2am on New Year’s Eve/day. However, while these try to get enforced, it’s impossible when so many people have fireworks. So the rules get ignored by people and nothing is done to stop it. In general though, if you are caught with fireworks outside of these dates/times you face them being confiscated and getting an 100 euro fine.

Where I live I start hearing fireworks at the start of the November, all the way until well into February. They aren’t the nice pretty fireworks either, they are the really loud booming ones which do nothing but make noise. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I was sat in my own living room or my bed minding my own business when someone sets one off right outside my flat, scaring me half to death and making the windows rattle. This morning I got woke up by them and the baby upstairs was just screaming its head off because of it. 


So, Where Do People Get the Fireworks from in the Netherlands?

Well, being in mainland Europe, there is nothing stopping you from nipping over the border to get your fireworks. With no hard border and police stops a rarity (unless you’re outwardly doing something noticeable to get your stopped), going to either Belgium or Germany is a breeze. Some people also purchase illegal fireworks online or head to a little Belgian/Dutch town, which sits in the middle of Dutch territory. The Dutch part is called Baarle-Nassau and the Belgian one Baarle-Hertog. It’s certainly not particularly difficult to get hold of them and that’s why you can hear fireworks for days, weeks and even months on end. Then, of course, you can buy them a few days before NYE legally, so some people can get eager and set them off early.

New Year's Eve in the Netherlands


Where Can You Go for New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands?

Basically every city in the Netherlands will be celebrating in some sort of way. If you’re looking for anywhere particularly big, head to the larger cities. A few are: Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag or Scheveningen, Eindhoven, Utrecht, Groningen etc. So far I’ve done NYE in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and soon-to-be Scheveningen in the Netherlands. Honestly though – you’ll likely see hundreds of firework displays outside your doorstep, with no need to even leave. But if you’re looking for professional displays in the Netherlands, head to the larger cities.

Don’t let the fireworks put you off if you love NYE. Just make sure you keep an eye out for any stray fireworks and anyone just chucking them. If you really aren’t a fan of fireworks, then better to head to a quieter spot. Have a fantastic New Year everyone! I’ve been writing this while hearing the booms outside (hey, it’s not time yet guys!) 

What’s your experience with New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands? Drop it in the comments. Don’t forget to subscribe too!

[Also, sorry I’ve been away for so long – travelling, Christmas and then getting really ill did that, normal schedule will resume soon. I’ll write an article out this week about what to expect for 2019.]


new year's eve in the netherlands

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