Dec 5 | St. Nicholas' Eve The Dutch Santa Claus. On the evening of 5 December, children get presents delivered through the chimney by St Nicholas and his helpers. Gifts are distributed in the family circle in the saint's name accompanied by poems in which the recipient's actions and behaviour of the past year are being reviewed. There is a moral concern about the staff policy of this catholic saint as his helpers are black slaves.
Dec 9, 10 | Christmas market In the top 5 of most enjoyable Christmas fairs in the Netherlands. Not so enjoyable if you don't like crowds. 234 stands throughout the city centre. It takes 30 minutes to cover 100 metres. You cannot go back or forth, you are at the mercy of the crowd's pace. The whole city centre is blocked. Best to avoid the city this weekend. Saturday 11h - 19h, Sunday 10h - 18h. www.kerstmarkthaarlem.nl
Dec 24 |Christmas sing-a-long@ Grote Markt square At 23h55 there will be a vocal gathering at the Grote Markt square. Everybody can join and sing along with the Christmas carols and evergreens. There is a large video LED wall. www.kerstsamenzang.nl
Dec 25, 26 |Christmas Two national holidays based on the worlds best-selling folk tale book. They are celebrated with family, with a festive evening meal in stylishly decorated surroundings, in which candles and the Christmas tree are essential. The 1st Christmas Day the dinner is at your parents, and the 2nd Day of Christmas the dinner is at your in-laws.
Dec 31 | New Year's Eve New Year's Eve is usually celebrated at home with friends or family with a dish of oliebollen (doughnut balls), the typical Dutch New Year's Eve snack. At midnight everybody goes out on the street to bring New Year's wishes to their neighbours and light fireworks. The skies will be beautifully coloured with fireworks lit by everybody all at once. But this typical Dutch tradition of lighting fireworks collectively is getting out of hand. Each year there is an increasing amount of firework casualties and violations. Celebrating the new year has stopped being a festivity and has become a wartime activity. Heavy exploding fireworks lit by teenagers roaming the city in search of victims will keep you inside.
Jan 1 | New Year's Day National holiday. If your house or car did not burn down, if you are not at the hospital, you can count yourself lucky. Survived another (New) year.
Jan 8 | Haarlem's New Year's reception @ City hall At city hall between 17h and 19h. Around 18h the mayor of Haarlem will deliver a New Year's speech. All citizens can have a drink and toast to the new year.
Jan 26,27,28 | National theatre weekend Every year in January many theatres in the Netherlands have special events you can visit for a discount price of €10. People that never visit a theatre are supposed to check out their local theatre during this weekend. Hopefully they will like it and frequent the theatre more often in the future. A good opportunity to check out a (local) theatre! www.nationaaltheaterweekend.nl
Mar 11 | Living room concert festival "Gluren bij de buren" Between 13 and 18h you can visit living room concerts for free throughout Haarlem. More than 90 living rooms can be visited where local artists give a 30 minute semi-acoustic musical performance three times during the day. A rug is the stage and a couch is the seat. Goal is to bring people in a neighbourhood closer together. But also a good opportunity to check out how citizens of Haarlem live. www.glurenbijdeburen.nl/haarlem
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Mar 15 | National elections for House of Representatives Every four years 150 new members for the House of Representatives are elected. After this a new government will be formed and a new prime minister of the Netherlands will be appointed: the most important political figure in the Netherlands. The formation process may last several weeks up to half a year in some cases.
Mar 24~26 | Modern art festival "Haarlemse Lente" Festival for modern art. To show young talented artists that Haarlem is the place to be in the Netherlands for modern art. You can visit a lot of art galleries, expositions, performances, music, poetry, workshops, etcetera. www.haarlemselente.nl
Mar 25 | Earth Hour An initiative of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). A lights-off event encouraging individuals, communities households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour between 20h30 and 21h30 as a symbol for their commitment to the planet. In Haarlem, most historical monuments will be in the dark. www.earthhour.org
Apr 3~9 | Museum week For seven days in April, the nation's top museums are joining together to celebrate Museum Week, a nationwide annual event. Take advantage of discounted admissions, special exhibits, giveaways and more at each of the participating museums. www.nationalemuseumweek.nl
Apr 16~17 | Easter Two national holidays based on the worlds best-selling folk tale book. It is celebrated that the folk tale book character Jesus resurrected from the dead, three days after his crucifixion and burial, to be with his followers for 40 more days. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday, following the first full moon, after the Spring Equinox. This means it is celebrated in March or April. It can occur as early as March 22 and as late as April 25. Easter Monday is a good day for cleaning the house.
Apr 23~24 | Bulb flower parade Annual parade of wagons decorated with flowers. Starting in the village of Noordwijk and after 40 kilometres arriving around 21h in the centre of Haarlem on Saturday April 23. On Sunday April 24 you can admire the 17 flower wagons in the city centre of Haarlem between 10h and 17h. The flower wagons will be lined up along the whole street Gedempte Oude Gracht accompanied by live music, theatre and food stands. bloemencorso-bollenstreek.nl
Apr 27 | King's Day National holiday to celebrate King Willem-Alexander's 50th birthday. For most people an excuse to be drunk in public and party and celebrate the nation. Orange, the colour of the Royal House, is everywhere. Citizens sell items they no longer need throughout the city's main shopping streets: clothes, cds, dvds, toys, etc. This year, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will join the festivities in the municipality of Tilburg. In Haarlem there is a free pop music festival at the Nieuwe Groenmarkt between 12h00 and 22h30 to entertain the masses. koningsdaghaarlem.nl
May 4 | Remembrance Day Commemoration of all the people that gave their lives for our freedom. The whole country comes to a standstill during two minutes of silence at 20h00. National flags are flying half-mast throughout the country. In Haarlem there will be a memorial service in the Great or St. Bavo Church at 18h50, after which there will be a procession to the Monument at the Dreef, where on 7 March 1945 fifteen resistance fighters were shot dead by the Germans. Here, wreaths will be laid at 20h02 and afterwards there will be a memorial concert by the regional youth orchestra at 20h30 in the park nearby until 21h45.
May 5 | Liberation Day / music festival "Bevrijdingspop" @ Haarlemmerhout park National holiday to celebrate our freedom and to remember 5 May 1945 when the German World War II army surrendered to the Netherlands. National flags are flying high. Free pop music festivals throughout the country. The largest and oldest will be right here in Haarlem! Three stages. Local bands, and (inter)national bands. About 150,000 visitors. www.bevrijdingspop.nl
May 12~14 | Art exhibition festival "Vijfhoekkunstroute" Artists show their art at locations in the yuppie neighbourhood Vijfhoek, located in the city centre south of Botermarkt square. Residents and shops in the Vijfhoek neighbourhood provide exhibition space for artists to display their art. www.vijfhoekkunstroute.nl
May 13~14 | National windmill weekend Throughout the country windmills are open to the public for free! See them live in action with the miller. In Haarlem you can visit five windmills. For example windmill "De Adriaan" (See Culture section). www.molens.nl
May 17 | King Willem Alexander visit @ Teylers museum King Willem Alexander will open a new part of the Teylers museum: the Lorentz Lab. Hendrik Antoon Lorentz was a Nobel Prize winning physicist. One of the great minds of his time. His work forms the basis for the theory of atoms and for the general and special theories of relativity. Was appointed director of research at the Teyler Institute in 1910, a position he held until his death in 1928.
May 25 | Ascension Day National holiday based on the worlds best-selling folk tale book. It is celebrated every Thursday ten days before Pentecost to remember when the folk tale book character Jesus ascended into heaven after his death. Most people are off work and many shops are closed. Companies hate this day because it breaks up the work week. Most cities have some kind of festival going on.
May 25~28 | 4 Days walking marches @ Kennemer sports centre Four days of walking through the beautiful surroundings of Haarlem. Every day a different varied route through forest, dunes, along bulb flower fields and along the Spaarne river. The start is each day at the Kennemer sports centre. You can choose distances of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, or 40 kilometers. Online registration through their website. www.wandel4daagsehaarlem.nl
May 28 | Biggest Band in the World @ Oerkapkade A 6-song concert on the Grote Markt square performed by 1000 musicians. Last year it was done with 250 musicians who performed the same song (Rockin' in the Free World by Neil Young) several times. Now it will be Jailhouse Rock by Blues Brothers ('50s), Proud Mary by Ike & Tina Turner ('60s), That's the Way I Like It by KC and the Sunshine Band ('70s). They want to make the Guiness Book of Records (1225 musicians). Inspired by Rockin'1000. www.dgvbv.nl
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Jun 2~3 | Plant & Garden street market @ Raamvest Famous annual plant & garden street market originating in 1890. Starts on Friday at 16h00 and goes on through the entire night and ends the next morning on Saturday at 11h00. All Haarlem citizens are going to buy cheap plants here for inside their home and outisde their garden or balcony. Besides plants for your home and garden, there are also food stands. You can also buy fresh strawberries cheaply.
Jun 3 | Feast of the Lazybones"Luilak" Celebration of the person who is the last one to get up on the Saturday before Pentecost. Don’t be surprised to be woken up by children blowing whistles and horns in the early morning. Unfortunately this is often accompanied with damage to public property, cars, and houses. Therefore, it is prohibited to carry eggs, butter, mayonnaise, or tooth paste during this morning. No kidding!
Jun 4~5 | Pentecost Two national holidays based on the worlds best-selling folk tale book. It is to remember the coming of the Holy Spirit to the followers of the folk tale book character Jesus, as he had promised after he rose from the dead 50 days ago. Whit Monday is a good day to enjoy a forest walk.
Jun 5 | Barrel organ festival "Haarlem draait door" @ Grote Markt square About 25 barrel organs can be heard at and around the Grote Markt square between 11h and 17h. Barrel organs are musical instruments where a person turns a crank and the organ starts playing music. In the Great Church or St. Bavo’s the famous Müller organ will be played.
Jun 11 | Running event "ECI Letterenloop" Readers and writers compete with eachother in this running event. Start and finish at the Ice skating rink of Haarlem. There is a family run, a kids run, a 5 km run, and a 10 km run. People run over the highest point in the region, 43 meters above sea level. www.letterenloop.nl
Jun 13~16 | Walking marches "Avondvierdaagse" A walking event for families, schools, and voluntary associations, in which almost 6,000 children participate. Walking four consecutive evening walks of 5, 10, or 15 kilometers starting June 7 and ending on June 10 with a celebration party on the Grote Markt square (20h00 - 21h30) to honour the finishers with flowers, a medal, and candy. www.avondvierdaagse-haarlem.nl
June 17 | Haarlem Shopping Night Haarlem Shopping Night is held every year in June. Shops, artists, musicians and cafés and restaurants team up to present Haarlem as Holland’s best shopping experience for an entire evening packed with special offers, promotions, fashion shows and music. 18h-24h.
Jun 18 | Marching band festival "Mars der Muzikanten"@ Grote Markt square March of the musicians. Festival on the Grote Markt square. Marching bands, percussion bands, brass bands. 13h30~16h30 www.marsdermuzikanten.nl
Jun 18 | World music festival "Houtfestival" @ Haarlemmerhout park A free open air festival attracting 20,000-25,000 visitors every year with a relaxed and family friendly atmosphere. Music, food, dance and theatre from all over the world (Ghana, Colombia, Balkan, India, Nigeria, Trinidad) on four stages, between 12h and 22h. Artists from countries where it is sometimes not possible for them to perform in public because of their message. www.houtfestival.nl
Jun 23 | Running event "Grachtenloop" Relaxed evening running contest in the city centre of Haarlem. About 3500 participants. Distances are 1000m (KidsRun), 5km and 10km. Starts at 18h45. Start/finish @ Nieuwe Gracht. Not the best time for a visit because the city centre is blocked everywhere. www.grachtenloop.nl
Jun 25 | Haarlem book fair@ Grote Markt square Annual book market on the Grote Markt square. Book merchants from all over the country present a wide variety of (second hand) books for sale at 78 stalls between 10h and 17h.
Jun 30~Jul 2| Food truck festival "Eten op rolletjes" @ Lichtfabriek Food truck festivals are rapidly popping up everywhere in the Netherlands. You can sample a wide variety of cuisine as well as the latest culinary trends. The food trucks are equipped with a fully functioning kitchen and decorated to match their specialities. Try Vietnamese streetfood, pulled pork sandwiches, steaks, or grilled corn cobs within metres of each other. This festival welcomes 30 food trucks. During the day, there’s food, drinks and entertainment for the kids, and in the evening, their parents can enjoy some dancing and live music. Fri 15-23h, Sat 12-23h, Sun 12-22h / Free entrance www.etenoprolletjes.nl
Jul 1 | Spaarne water stream concert Between 19h and 23h30 there will be a concert at the east bank of the Spaarne river stream in the city centre. Mix of light classical music, singer-songwriters, world music and jazz. In front of the concert stage, boats will be lying in the water from where people can enjoy the concerts. www.spaarneconcert.info
Jul 9 | Leisure boat parade A parade of 40 open leisure boats on the Spaarne water stream. They start sailing north at 11h from Windmill De Adriaan in the city centre and arrive around 16h30 at the bridge Schoterbrug in the Northern outskirts of Haarlem, where a BBQ and dance party starts until 22h. All boat passengers pay 20 euros to join this parade, BBQ, and dance party. So if you happen to see a lot of boats congesting the Spaarne water stream, you now know why. www.haarlemsesloepentocht.nl
Jul 12 | Picknick festival "Parksessies" #1 @ Haarlemmerhout park First out of four editions of this free small-scale laidback open air cultural picknick festival with local visual art, theatre, and short semi-acoustic music performances. You can bring your own picknick basket, or buy one. Relaxed neo-hippie atmosphere offering amazement and inspiration. But mainly just a crowded city picknick. 17h-23h. www.parksessies.nl
Jul 13 | Surrender of Haarlem AD 1573 A sad day in the history of Haarlem. 442 years ago the city of Haarlem surrendered to the Spaniards after a siege that lasted 7 months. After two weeks of negotiating an agreement to surrender was signed by the city council. Citizens were left unharmed, but the soldiers who defended Haarlem were executed or drowned in the Spaarne river by the Spanish army.
Jul 19 | Picknick festival "Parksessies" #2@ Haarlemmerhout park Second out of four editions of this free small-scale laidback open air cultural picknick festival with local visual art, theatre, and short semi-acoustic music performances. You can bring your own picknick basket, or buy one. Relaxed neo-hippie atmosphere offering amazement and inspiration. But mainly just a crowded city picknick. 17h-23h. www.parksessies.nl
Jul 26~27 | Boat parade festival On Wednesday at 19h30 the festival will be opened. On Thursday you can see the whole day a parade of boats through the Spaarne water stream in the city centre accompanied by choirs. www.vaardagen.nl
Jul 26 | Picknickfestival "Parksessies" #3@ Haarlemmerhout park Third out of four editions of this free small-scale laidback open air cultural picknick festival with local visual art, theatre, and short semi-acoustic music performances. You can bring your own picknick basket, or buy one. Relaxed neo-hippie atmosphere offering amazement and inspiration. But mainly just a crowded city picknick. 17h-23h. www.parksessies.nl
Aug 2 | Picknick festival "Parksessies" #4@ Haarlemmerhout park Last out of four editions of this free small-scale laidback open air cultural picknick festival with local visual art, theatre, and short semi-acoustic music performances. You can bring your own picknick basket, or buy one. Relaxed neo-hippie atmosphere offering amazement and inspiration. But mainly just a crowded city picknick. 17h-23h. www.parksessies.nl
Aug 3~6 | Culinary festival "Haarlem Culinair" @ Grote Markt square Culinary lifestyle event that takes place on the Grote Markt square. You can taste small drinks & bites made by local restaurants. Small bites are €5-€7 euro, so you typically taste three of four out of thirteen restaurants. Every day between 13h~23h, except the opening day it starts at 17h. For people that like to spend money eating at restaurants. www.haarlemculinair.nl
(Aug 5~6) | Local beer festival @ Botermarkt square Between 12h30 and 18h30 local breweries present their special beers. A great way to taste some of the local beercraftmanship. All beers are €2,50. Unfortunately most of the crowd make it like it's a 30+ sunday afternoon reception, remembering the good old times when job and kids were no burden. On Aug 5 at Boerenplein square in front of the Jopenkerk, on Aug 6 at the Botermarkt square.
Aug 16~20 | Jazz festival "Haarlem Jazz & More" Pretends to be the largest free jazz music festival of Europe. But it has nothing to do with jazz music anymore. If you like crowds and drinking beer from plastic cups accompanied by tasteless live musical entertainment in an old city centre setting, this is your festival. Performances of mostly national bands on a big stage on the Grote Markt square and smaller stages on the Oude Groenmarkt square (pop), Klokhuisplein square and Proveniersplein square (blues). After the live performances the party continues in the bars for the local crowd. www.haarlemjazzandmore.nl
Aug 25~27 | Food truck festival "Proefpark" @ Kenaupark Free open air food festival with 20~30 food trucks, cooking demonstrations, battles, and workshops. Looks like giant family picknick days. Fri 17-23h, Sat 12-23h, Sun 12-20h. www.proefparkhaarlem.nl
Aug 26~Sep 2 | Cycling race "Haarlemse Muggenronde" Haarlem’s annual cycling competition for boys and girls aged 10~15, from August 20 until August 27. On August 27 the Grote Markt square will host a time trial. www.muggenronde.nl
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Sep 9/10 |National Heritage Days "Open Monumentendag" Most historic buildings that would normally be closed to the public are open to the public free of charge this weekend. To raise awareness of people to the richness and cultural diversity in the Netherlands. More than 70 monuments will be freely accessible in Haarlem. www.openmonumentendag.nl
Sep 9/10 | Opening of the cultural season 2016/2017 "Haarlem Cultuur Festival" Cultural festival celebrating the start of the new cultural season with free performances on different locations throughout the city. An explosion of culture and art, performances, workshops, expositions. Saturday 10h until Sunday 17h. haarlemcultuurfestival.nl
Sep 10 | Historic festival Haerlem @ Nieuwe Kerksplein square Small festival with a historic theme, mainly 14th century. Live music, acrobatic acts, food, craftsmen from the 14th century. Sun 11-19h.
Sep 24 | Haarlem half marathon "Halve van Haarlem" Running contest where you can run half a marathon through the city of Haarlem, but you can also walk 10 or 5 kilometer. Haarlem’s largest one day sporting event. Start/finish at the Grote Markt square. So be aware that between 11h30 and 16h30 the ciy centre is less accessible. Plan your city trip another weekend. www.halvevanhaarlem.nl
Oct 7 | Pop music festival"Popronde" Annual festival touring the country city by city to showcase upcoming bands from outside the region in which they perform. 62 free performances on 29 locations throughout Haarlem, mostly in bars. A good and cheap way to get an impression of the latest developments in Dutch pop music. Starts at 20h00, the info stand is at the Grote Markt square and opens at 19h30. After midnight there is an afterparty at Patronaat night club. www.popronde.nl
Nov 3/4/5 | Art exhibition festival "Kunstlijn" Every first weekend of November, most studios of professional visual artists are open for public. More than 300 artists show their art at more than 150 locations throughout the city. The oldest and largest art exhibition route of the Netherlands. www.kunstlijnhaarlem.nl
Nov 11 | Feast of St. Martin As soon as it gets dark, children up to the age of 11/12 (primary school age) go door to door with hand-crafted lanterns made of paper, singing songs with absurdistic lyrics hoping to receive some candy or fruit in return.
Nov 19 | Entry of St. Nicholas Around 13h St. Nicholas and 150 of his singing, dancing, and cheerful black Petes will arrive in Haarlem! They have come all the way from Spain travelling by steamboat. It is packed with children's presents, that will be delivered on the evening of December 5th. When they come ashore St. Nicholas will mount his horse Amerigo and make a tour through the city centre. At the Grote Markt square he will be welcomed by the mayor. www.sintintochthaarlem.nl
Nov 23 | Haarlem's city birthday Celebration of 772 years city rights given to Haarlem in 1245 (before Amsterdam!). No events related to this birthday. Just so you know.