New Year’s Eve fireworks in the Netherlands: which city is doing what?

Let's bring in the new year 🎆

There’s no New Year’s Eve without fireworks, and the Netherlands rarely disappoints in that area. From Groningen in the north, to Maastricht in the south, you can bet the sky will be covered with fire and sparkles in basically every Dutch city.

Fireworks and the Netherlands are a never-ending love story, sprinkled with passion, affection, and a good bunch of drama. 

Here is all you need to know about the Dutch plans for a banging New Year’s Eve in 2023. 

What to expect on New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands in 2023

December 31st in the Netherlands is something you’ll never forget. As opposed to Halloween and Christmas, the Dutch take New Year’s Eve very seriously

What a way to bring in the new year! Image: Depositphotos

And by seriously, we mean that all the major Dutch cities turn into something resembling a war zone on the last day of the year. 

Dutch people are not shy about throwing firecrackers onto the street where you’re walking, and you’re likely to be shocked by explosions and bangs on every corner. 

READ MORE | Majority in Lower House for putting an end to dangerous fireworks on New Year’s Eve

City centres are usually intensely crowded, and large crowds combined with the fire quickly turn into a safety hazard. 

So, if you’re not interested in risking injury or sore ears as part of your holiday celebrations, you might want to be extra careful when going out on New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands. 

During the coronavirus years of 2020 and 2021, many municipalities decided to ban the use of fireworks completely. 

This was partially to limit the risk of infection posed by crowds gathering to watch the celebrations and partially to avoid overloading hospitals with non-coronavirus-related work at an already strained time. 

Will you be getting a New Year’s kiss this year? Image: Depositphotos

Since the pandemic ended, however, rules are pretty much back to normal. Officially, untrained individuals are not permitted to light fireworks in the Netherlands, with one notable exception: New Year’s Eve. 

Between 6 PM on December 31, and 2 AM on January 1, regular folks can legally set off (almost) whatever fireworks they like. However, they cannot be lit in areas allowed by your local municipality.

There might be fireworks-free zones in parts of your city, so make sure to check this first to avoid a fine.  

Of course, we’re talking about the Dutch, so you’re likely to occasionally hear fireworks all year round — and a lot in the two months prior to New Year’s. 

Also, officially, fireworks can only be sold to private individuals between December 29 and 31 by certified stores. However, the specific rules always differ between municipalities, as firework regulations are set locally, not nationally. 

Additionally, there are certain types of fireworks that are banned. That means your local fireworks dealer is not allowed to sell them, and if you somehow obtain them, you’re not allowed to use them. The forbidden types of fireworks are: 

  • singleshots
  • category F3 fireworks
  • firecrackers (including strings of firecrackers)
  • rockets

Despite the rather strict regulations, however, most people largely disregard limitations, buy them from other countries, and set off fireworks whenever and wherever they please. 

What can we say? Dutch people just love their fireworks. 

Fireworks on New Year’s Eve in 2023: Which Dutch city is doing what?

No matter where you are in the Netherlands, you can expect one thing from New Year’s Eve 2023: there will be fireworks. 

There’s no national fireworks ban. However, 16 municipalities have chosen to ban fireworks in certain areas in 2023/24.

Here’s what December 31 might look like in your city. 

Amsterdam’s New Year’s Eve 

Amsterdam has banned private fireworks but is compensating with a fantastic public show and activities. 

The central Museumplein in Amsterdam will be filled with attractions, including their ‘Electric Fireworks’ display, that they describe as a “grand, magical and eclectic light show with eco-fireworks”.

New Year’s Eve is just not the same without fireworks, is it? Image: Depositphotos

Here, you can countdown the new year, enjoy an incredible light installation, music, and more. There’s a children’s show at 7 PM and the main event starts at 10 PM.

The Sloterpas and Weesp will also have a big fireworks show.

Best of all, all the events are free!

Rotterdam’s New Year’s Eve

The Dutch harbour city of Rotterdam has also prohibited personal fireworks, but you won’t be short on options this New Year’s Eve. 

The oh-so-famous Erasmus Bridge will provide Rotterdammers with a magnificent spectacle, known as the biggest fireworks show in the Netherlands. For the kids, there’s an early option at 7 PM. 

Watch the colours light up the sky all across the Netherlands this New Year’s Eve. Image: Depositphotos

The fireworks over the bridge are programmed to music from Martin Garrix, ensuring a spectacular event.

You’ll also be able to see fireworks at Nesselande and potentially Hoek van Holland, so there’s no shortage of options. 

The Hague’s New Year’s Eve

The administrative capital of the Netherlands will not opt for a firework ban for private persons, describing such bans as unrealistic. 

Instead, stork town will enforce fireworks-free zones around the city, for example, in areas close to petting zoos, animal shelters, and hospitals. 

Want something far grander? The Hofvijver will again house The Hague’s main fireworks show this year. What a location!

As of now, the large bonfire events at Scheveningen and Duindorp are set to go ahead as usual. 

No matter the firework situation, though, you can rest assured that the traditional New Year’s swim at Scheveningen will take place as always. 

Every January 1, the inhabitants for The Hague jump into the ocean with little red hats on. Image: Lybil BER/Wikimedia Commons/GNU

Utrecht’s New Year’s Eve

Utrecht is not enforcing a fireworks ban, but it’s not quite free-for-all. All inhabitants are allowed to set off fireworks from December 31, 6 PM, until January 1, 2 AM. 

However, a number of fireworks-free zones will be implemented (at least one in each district) where fireworks cannot be used. 

The municipality has also created a budget for residents to use to create a cosy street party.

Maastricht’s New Year’s Eve

The southern city of Maastricht has no general fireworks ban this year.

That means that fireworks are allowed throughout the city from 6 PM on December 31 until 2 AM on January 1.

Groningen’s New Year’s Eve

Groningen has changed its approach to fireworks this year: they have implemented fireworks-free areas in different parts of the city, including the center.

Outside of those areas, you’re free to set off fireworks between 6 PM on December 31 and 2 AM on January 1.

If you want all the fun vibes, head to De Grote Markt. There, the free event ‘Groningen Telt Af’ (Groningen Counts Down) will take place, with live music, cabaret, and poetry.

The dark side of fireworks in the Netherlands

The widespread fireworks obsession in the Netherlands does not come without troubles, however. Injuries and even casualties are an unfortunate routine every year, with emergency rooms filled to the brim from fireworks-related incidents

Most large-scale celebrations in the Netherlands have seen dangerous situations unfold where fireworks have set fire to cars, mailboxes, and even buildings. 

The Netherlands is no stranger to dangerous New Year’s celebrations. Image: Depositphotos

In addition to regular violence as part of the mayhem that usually erupts during the Dutch New Year’s celebrations, certain individuals also tend to find it sensible to fire fireworks into crowds of people, celebrating in public areas. 

Needless to say, it’s an annual struggle to keep the festivities under control and the injuries and damages at a minimum. 

NYE fireworks: how to keep it safe

If you do not live in a fireworks-free zone, and you wish to light up your own show this New Year’s Eve, there are several precautions you should consider. 

First of all, don’t light fireworks if you’re influenced by alcohol — it’s a recipe for disaster. Secondly, always wear protective eye gear when handling fireworks, and never hold lit fireworks in your hands. 

In other words, don’t do it like this. Image: Depositphotos

Keep water close by in case of unintentional fire spreading, and never (ever, ever,) light fireworks indoors. 

Finally, make sure you keep the fireworks as far away from other people, houses, or flammable materials as possible. 

New Year’s Eve and pets in the Netherlands

Pet owners should consider their four-legged friends’ well-being before committing to their fireworks plans. 

New Year’s Eve can be a seriously traumatic experience for many pets, and it might be worth it to skip the fireworks altogether to avoid stressing out your (or your neighbours’) animals. 

Other than that, try to keep the curtains closed to limit the number of light flashes in your house, walk your dog before the whole thing starts, and try to behave as normally as possible around your pet to avoid increased stress.

How are you going to celebrate New Year’s Eve this year? Tell us in the comments below!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in November 2022, and was fully updated in December 2023 for your reading pleasure. 

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Juni Moltubak
Juni Moltubak
Juni moved to the Netherlands after realizing how expensive tuition fees in the UK are, and never regretted her choice of studying in The Hague. After three years of Political Science, she is ready for a new adventure — an internship at DutchReview! When you don’t see her typing on her laptop she can be found strolling around Haagse Bos or sitting in her lovely garden scrolling through interior design TikToks.

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