Run out of funds? No need to be glum in the Netherlands, here are a few free things to enjoy for free in January

2019 has arrived and as with every new year a collective ‘new year, new me’ sentiment arises. Many of us have overindulged on good food and good wine over the festive period, stretched (or dare I say burst) our budgets on social soirees and further splurged on gifts for all your nearest and dearest (yourself included, naturally).

After a month of unreputable extravagance, it is quite right that we see the new year as a chance to reset, rein it in a little and let our bank accounts, as well as bodies, recover!

Therefore, as bright and shiny as the new year initially appears, this period we are shuffling into can also be rightly referred to as the January Blues. We are after all,  in the depths of winter, our monthly paycheck feels as if it is an eternity away after we too readily frittered away the last; and to top it all off, we are expected to start the dreaded summer body sculpt with oodles of leftover chocolate, biscuits and other such delights hiding in every drawer of the house.

It is notoriously known as the month of austerity, in this month we stay inside and attempt to restrict the purse strings, calorie intake and even give up our beloved alcohol intake in the name of Dry January (a growing British tradition that has recently crept onto the shores of the Netherlands).


However, before you lock yourself in your house with a salad, self-imposed shopping ban and bottle of no-alcohol, no-calorie, no-fun wine; check out the fun stuff below that is happening in this bleak month for absolutely free! That’s right, you needn’t spend a cent! So get your calendar ready and take note of a few cool events that the Netherlands has to offer.


Amsterdam Light Festival – 29th Nov 2018- 20th Jan 2019

Christmas and New Year celebrations have passed and all decorations are slowly to be taken down from homes and street alike. For some, it feels downright odd to still take joy from a Santa light post-Christmas and the poor fellow is quickly packed back into his box for the following festive period. If you are still wanting to be dazzled by some lights in the dark evening, you can still catch a glimpse of some of the fantastic light installations placed along the Illuminade walking route until the 20th January. There is an opportunity to hire a guide for a wander down the brightly lit way, however you can also enjoy a leisurely stroll for free and take time to admire the works of 23 (inter)national artists who have contributed to the Amsterdam Light Festival.


Leiden Blues and Jazz week – Leiden –  21st-27th Jan 2019

Calling for all the Jazz and Blues lovers!

The annual Blues and Jazz week in Leiden will be all around the city for the 39th time this year. During these seven days, expect good music to help you shake those winter blues! You can visit an eclectic mix of concerts in the “Jazz Quarter”, surrounding the Hooglandsekerk and leading past the Nieuwe Rijn, Nieuwstraat and Kaasmarkt.

The highlight of the event? It is the Bar Crawl on Wednesday! More than 38 cafes all over the inner city will be participating in this fun event. That means there will be more than 60 performances in total. we say, don’t miss it!

You can find all about the routes and the location here!


Niewjaarsduik – Utrecht – 13th Jan 2019

Niewjaarsduik literally translated into English is; New Year’s Dive. This cultural event traditionally marks the beginning of the cultural calendar in Utrecht and is the first of a series of exciting Culturele Zondagen held throughout the year. ‘Young creators’, who are of great value to the city, are also the central theme in the program this year. New talent from Utrecht is taking to the stage! Events include guided bike rides showing lesser-known gems of the city, furniture workshops as well as a broad array of theatre productions and workshops. So if you’re feeling brave let your inner thespian out for the day or take a back seat enjoy the work of others before you!


National Tulip Day – Amsterdam – 19th Jan 2019

Now what would the Netherlands be, without its bright and beautiful Tulip?! Since 2012 the unofficial flower of Netherlands has been given its own day; Nationale Tulpendag.

Usually taking place on the third Saturday of the month, the day kickstarts the beginning of the Tulip season. To celebrate, a huge pop-up Tulip garden is created in Dam Square. Complete with over 200 000 tulips, visitors can also witness some traditionally dressed folk tending to the garden too. Here you can take some snazzy pics for Instagram, witness a bit of color in the often grey January days and in the afternoon (if you queue) pick your bunch of Tulips to take home- for free!

Chinese New Year – Den Haag – 9th Feb 2019

This one is something for February! Hopefully, by then you will have pretty much recovered from the celebrations at the beginning of the month and ready to celebrate 2019 all over again! For the 17th year, Den Haag will host an all-day festival to welcome the year of the pig with parades, fashion shows and some fireworks (organized!).  The Chinees Nieuwjaar seeks to sweep out the old and make way for the good luck that the new year has to offer. Festivities will be held in the Town Hall and Chinatown throughout the 9th and is free to all visitors!


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