Festivals and Events in South Holland

An overview of the major festivals and key events that take place each year in The Hague, Rotterdam, Delft and Leiden...


You can find major events happening year-round in The Hague, Rotterdam, Delft, Leiden and Gouda. As would be expected, smaller beach communities like Katwijk and Noordwijk offer far more activities and events in the spring and summer, than in autumn or winter.

King's Day (the celebration of the the Dutch king's birthday on April 27th) is the most popular public holiday of the year in Holland. You can find many koningskermis (king's fun fairs) happening across the country. These run anywhere from 5-10 days.

The Dutch celebrate the arrival of Sinterklaas (similar to Santa Claus or Father Christmas) in a big way on the thried Saturday of November, with a welcome ceremony at the city's main harbour or marina. This is followed by a festive street parade, usually leading to the city center. 

The Sinterklaas celebrations end on December 5th (the feast day of St Nicolaas). From December 6th onward, you'll find Christmas tree-lighting ceremonies and holiday markets throughout the country.

The Dutch traditionally enjoy ice skating at the holidays. To accommodate this, temporary ice rinks are constructed in most cities. 


South Holland Festivals and Events... 

Below is a brief summary of the major festivals and annual events that take place in South Holland's largest cities...

Delft

  • Delft Fringe Festival - an 11-day festival at beginning of June with over 400 performances by young talents including dancers, singers, musicians, street performers and more.
  • Mooi Weer Spelen Festival - a 3-day festival which celebrates the art of street circus performing
  • Delft Chamber Music Festival - a ten day classical music festival runs late July to mid-August
  • Westland Floating Flower Parade - boats decorated in flowers and vegetables grown in the Westland region sail through local towns and villages over three days at the beginning of August. The parade passes through Delft on the third day (Sunday)  
  • Lichtjesavond- the 'night of lights' happens in early December; when the Delft Christmas tree on Markt square is illuminated. A festive program with choirs and bands performing holiday songs. 

Leiden

  • Keukenhof Gardens - (20 km from Leiden) opens for two months between late March and middle of May. Over 7 million bulbs come into bloom during that time both in the park itself and in the fields adjacent. Each weekend, a special themed event is offered as are flower exhibitions in the park's two pavilions. Special buses provide non-stop transport between Leiden Central train station and Keukenhof
  • Leiden Marathon - a full 26.2 mile run which attracts runners from across the country as well as from abroad.
  • Laken Festival - a four day festival in late June, celebrating Leiden’s historical past, when it was a major producer of cloth
  • Leidse Ontzet - a major two day festival at the beginning of October celebrating the Liberation of Leiden on 3rd October 1574 during the 80 Years War
  • Leiden International Film Festival - a ten day event which showcases both art-house and mainstream films

The Hague

  • CPC Loop - a half-marathon running event in March attracts a large number of participants and spectators. The route begins on the Malieveld in the City, then works its way out to the beach near the Scheveningen Pier and back to the City. 
  • The Life I Live - a major music event in The Hague on King's Night (26th April), the night before King's Day (the celebration of King Willem-Alexander's birthday). Live performances take place on multiple stages throughout the city center, each featuring a different genre of music, from jazz to hard rock. 
  • Tong Tong Fair - the largest Eurasian fair in the world takes place over two weeks in late May/early June on the Malieveld festival terrain. It showcases Southeast Asian culture with dance, music, lectures, workshops and a large food offering. 
  • Festival Classique - a classical music festival which takes place in mid-June either in The Hague city center or by the beach in Scheveningen.
  • Vlaggetjesdag - the 'Flag Day' festival takes place in the Scheveningen harbour in middle of June and celebrates the season's first herring ('Hollandse Nieuwe'). The event includes on-water demonstrations by the coast guard, boat tours on the North Sea, a taptoe with marching bands and, of course, lots of herring ('haring').
  • Parkpop - a one of the largest free music festivals in Europe. It takes place on the last Sunday in June in The Hague’s Zuiderpark. Night at the Park, held the preceding night, has also become a major event.
  • International Fireworks Festival - an international fireworks competition held over the water in Scheveningen in August. Eight 15-min fireworks shows (two per night over successive weekends)
  • Embassy Festival - a weekend cultural festival at the beginning of September where many local embassies are represented, sharing what is unique about their country, whether it be in the form of cuisine, dance, music, etc.
  • UitFestival - a festival at the beginning of September which previews various performances from the upcoming cultural season with over 100 organizations participating  
  • Prinsjesdag - held on the third Tuesday in September, it is also referred to as 'Budget Day'. The King and Queen ride in the royal golden carriage from Noordeinde Palace to the Binnenhof where the King gives a 'speech from the throne' opening the new session of parliament.
  • Just Peace The Hague - a weekend festival at the end of September in recognition of the UN-designated 'International Day of Peace' on 21st September and The Hague being 'City of Peace & Justice'. Activities include music performances, lectures, workshops and a 10K 'Peace Run' which starts and ends at the Peace Palace.
  • Betovering Festival - 'The Enchantment' festival in October is a week-long children's event that coincides with 'Herfstvakantie' (Fall school break). All types of performances and media platforms - music, dance, film, circus and more.
  • Sinterklaas Parade - on the third Saturday of November, the Sint arrives in Scheveningen harbour by steamboat with his mischievous helpers, the Zwarte Pieten. He then rides his white horse Amerigo along a parade route lined by thousands of spectators which reaches The Hague city center about 5 hours after leaving the harbour.

Rotterdam

  • International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) - a two week event at the end of January which showcases films by up-and-coming directors from around the world
  • ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament - a week long men's professional tennis tournament held in mid-February with singles and doubles events. The field of players will include several ranked in the Top 10. Past winners have included Arthur Ashe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
  • Rotterdam Marathon - held in April, draws top runners from around the world and several hundred thousand spectators
  • Opera Dagen - a 10-day opera festival at the end of May featuring performances at various 'unexpected' indoor and outdoor locations across the city
  • Rotterdamse Dakendagen - the three day 'Rotterdam Rooftop Days' festival in mid-June explores unique spaces on top of buildings across the city
  • Metropolis Festival - a free music festival on the first Sunday of July in Rotterdam's Zuiderpark. It showcases local talents and draws over 35,000 attendees
  • North Sea Jazz Festival - held in July on multiple stages at Ahoy in Rotterdam South, with over eight hours live music per day by top recording artists
  • Summer Carnival - is without a doubt the most colourful festival of the year in Rotterdam and takes place at the end of July. It includes the selection of a carnival queen, a 'Battle of the Drums' and a street parade through the city center which includes decorated floats and over 1,000 participants showcasing Latin-Caribbean culture.   
  • Duizel in Het Park - a weekend cultural festival at the beginning of August held at Vroesenpark in Rotterdam Noord near the Blijdorp zoo. It showcases literature, art, theater and music 
  • Pleinbioscoop - this three week outdoor movie festival includes the screening of a different film every night at Museumpark in the Rotterdam city center. You can bring your own lawn chair and snacks (or rent a chair and buy refreshments on the grounds). 
  • World Port Days - held in early September, with harbour events including boat trips, water rescue demonstrations and a major fireworks presentation