Liberation Day in the Netherlands (Bevrijdingingsdag) is celebrated on May 5. It commemorates the day the Dutch were liberated by the Allies from Nazi occupation.
The occupation of the Netherlands by Nazi Germany began on May 10, 1940. Four days later, the city of Rotterdam was bombed, leading to the surrender of the Dutch command.
It wasn’t until five years later, in 1945, that the country was free again, mostly liberated by Canadian forces. Right after the war, the Dutch decided that May 5 would be celebrated as Liberation Day.
While originally celebrated to commemorate the end of WWII, in the last couple of years, Bevrijdingingsdag has also really been about celebrating freedom in general.
On this day, 77 years ago, the Netherlands was liberated from Nazi occupation by Canada and allied forces. Today we celebrate Dutch independence and remember the sacrifice and bravery of our Canadian Armed Forces in the Netherlands. Happy Dutch Liberation Day! 🇳🇱🌷 pic.twitter.com/Vq121qsYyQ— Candice Bergen Harris (@CandiceBergenMP) May 5, 2022
Many people, and younger generations, in particular, don’t know what it’s like not to live in a free society. Liberation Day is therefore the day to remember not to take freedom for granted and celebrate how wonderful it is to live in a free society.
During Liberation Day, the Netherlands holds parades and concerts and also has military memorabilia.
Liberation Day in the Netherlands is a public holiday only once every five years (the next being in 2025). In that year, many businesses will close and public transport will either not run, or stick to a different timetable.
However, there’s always some debate about whether May 5 should be a public holiday each and every year.
Festivals and Events on Liberation Day in the Netherlands
As Liberation Day in the Netherlands is a day that marks freedom in the Netherlands, it is widely celebrated. This is especially true when it is a public holiday, as most people get a day off work to enjoy the celebrations to the fullest.
Liberation Day events are usually opened by the Prime Minister, who starts the festivities from a different province every year. A team of around 5000 runners carries a flame to 200 municipalities all throughout the Netherlands, which marks the official beginning of all events, with free festivals happening in over 14 cities in the country.
Apart from the Bevrijdingsfestivals happening across the country, here are a few more festivals worth mentioning. No matter where you are located in the Netherlands, there are events for everyone!
- Ontsnapte Klanken
- Het Amsterdams Verbond
- Liberté Liberté
- Fluff Disco Bevrijdingsfestival
How will you be celebrating Liberation Day in the Netherlands this year? Tell us in the comments below!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2018, and was fully updated in May 2023 for your reading pleasure.