The 5th of May: What is Liberation Day in the Netherlands?

Liberation Day in the Netherlands (Bevrijdingsdag) is on the 5th of May and is the day where the Dutch celebrate their liberation by the allies from the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands (1945). The Netherlands was occupied by Nazi Germany on 10th May 1940 (4 days after, Rotterdam was bombed). The Netherlands was not liberated until 5 years after this, mostly by the Canadian forces. Right after the war, they decided that the 5th of May will be when Liberation day is commemorated.

Liberation Day during the coronatimes

Liberation Day is going to look a little bit different this year, because, of course, the Netherlands is still following social distancing rules. That means that the usual parades and festivals cannot take place.

So what will be happening this year?

In all provinces where a freedom festival was due to be held, a freedom bonfire was lit instead last night at midnight. People are encouraged to light a candle at home and pass it on to friends and relatives virtually. There will also be online parties in several cities and virtual concerts as well. There are also some cool initiatives going on, such as chefs sharing a recipe for Freedom Soup and the Amsterdam Resistance Museum is asking people to send in photos of what they are wearing today.

Despite this unconventional year, if you’re not familiar with how the Netherlands usually celebrates Liberation Day this article is definitely worth a read- so you’re ready to go next year.

Liberation day in the Netherlands is the day after National Remembrance Day, which is held on the 4th May every year. This way, the Netherlands has two days of both remembering and celebration. In the last couple of years ‘bevrijdingsdag’ has also really been about celebrating freedom in general. Many people, especially the younger generation such as me, don’t know what it’s like not to live in a free society. Therefore, Liberation Day is the day to remember that we were not always free, and that we should celebrate how wonderful it is to live in that kind of society. We must not take it for granted.

During Liberation day, the Netherlands holds parades, concerts and also has military memorabilia – so everyone can participate in the celebration, whilst still bringing the past to life.


Liberation day in the Netherlands is only a public holiday every 5 years (the next being in 2020). This year everything will run normally, but on 2020 many businesses will close and public transport will either not run, or stick to a different timetable. There is always some debate if the 5th of May 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 the freedom in the Netherlands, it is widely celebrated. This is especially true when it is a public holiday, as most people are not at work so can celebrate it to the fullest.

The events are usually opened by the Prime Minister, where he attends a different province every year (Flevoland this year). A team of around 5000 runners then carry a flame to 200 municipalities all throughout the Netherlands. The events then begin – with free festivals happening in over 14 cities in the country.

Liberation festivals are held in many large cities every year on ‘5 mei’, all around the Netherlands.

These events are all free and even include more than one stage! Festivals not your thing? As stated earlier, parades will be held and events in most town squares. A lot of these are also child friendly and completely free. So there’s lots going on!

What will you be attending and celebrating on Liberation Day in the Netherlands this year? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image: Wikimedia Commons


  1. Hi I am Jackie Bray from Canada. I am president of the Canadian Cowgirls in Chatham. We are looking tme o come to Holland in 2020 and hopefully participate in the celebrations. We are at the begining of our planning. We are a drill team and own our own horses. We are still trying to see if it makes sense coming over with our horses or renting horses in Holland to attend parades. Can you give me any information to help with our preparing. The Captain and myself are looking to fly to Holland this May to try and put this together. Any help is appreciated. Thanks

  2. We are planning to travel to and participate in Remembrance on May 4th and celebrate Liberation on May 5th in the Netherlands. Which website should I connect with to find out what is happening and where in the Netherlands during those two days?

  3. My Father is a97 year old canadian army veteran / princess Louise fusiliers regiment.
    He and my mother plus several members of our family attended the 50 year celebration as guests of the Netherlands. They have recounted the stories /memories about generosity and gratitude of the Dutch people during their stay . That celebration was very healing for my father who was wounded during the war.
    Unfortunately he won’t be attending this 75bth celebration. I am planning to sttend so that I may share my exoetiences and observations of tnis celebration in May 2020.directly. I would appreciate any information /advice you could provide that would ensure I’m in the best place at the right time .

  4. Hello Verlie Wile. My Uncle also served with the Canadian Army. He was Communications. We are also attending the 75th celebration and need more details on where to be and how to get around as I’ve been reading that public transportation is limited that day.


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