Every year on the fifth of May, people in the Netherlands celebrate Bevrijdingsdag, marking the end of Nazi occupation during World War II. It is also a nice day to visit one of the 14 official festivals which take place all over the country.
Dodenherdenking, May 4th
The festive events on May fifth are always preceded by 'Dodenherdenking' on May fourth. On this day, at exactly 20:00, two minutes of silence are observed by media, offices, restaurants and stores in honour of the people who gave and lost their lives during World War II and War in general. Don't be surprised if they suddenly cut the music in a bar or stop tending tables in a café.
Bevrijdingsdag, May 5th (Liberation Day)
The Netherlands was liberated on May 5th, 1945 when German commander Johannes Blaskowitz agreed to surrender. The official capitulation document was signed the next day at the university auditorium in the city of the Wageningen. This was almost five years to the day after Rotterdam was levelled by Nazi bombers in 1940.
Liberation Day is a workday for most
Though nobody doubts the importance of the day, it's not a typical national holiday. It is only observed as a public holiday for everyone, including both public and private sectors, once every five years. The next time this will happen is in 2025 when the Netherlands will celebrate the 80th anniversary of its liberation. In between those five-year milestones, Liberation Day is not considered a public holiday for the general population. However, it is still a public holiday for schoolteachers, civil servants and government employees, meaning they will get a day off from work.
Government employees are free from work, but for those in the private sector, it's just a regular workday. Some collective labour agreements specify that employees get one free day every fifth Liberation Day. Schools are usually always closed on Liberation Day.
Bevrijdingsfestival Zuid Holland celebrated in Rotterdam
Liberation Festival (Bevrijdingsfestival) Rotterdam
To mark this day, there are various parades and 14 festivals all across the country. The Liberation Day festival in Rotterdam is actually the official festival for the entire province of South Holland. The event, named Bevrijdingsfestival Zuid-Holland is held at Euromast Park. The next one takes place on May 5th, 2023, from 12:30 PM to 11:00 PM in Het Park at the foot of the Euromast in Rotterdam.
This is the official timetable for 2023, featuring headliners David Vunk and the legendary hardcore DJ, Paul Elstak:
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