New Year’s Eve in 2019: no bonfires this year, but there will be riots

New Year’s Eve is typically a wild affair in the Netherlands. Far from a peaceful evening of gatherings with friends, oliebollen, and champagne, it tends to be filled with firework disasters, bonfires, and even riots. But this year, hopefully, things will be different. 

No bonfires this New Year’s Eve

New regulations on bonfires have been put in place, which effectively means that there will be no bonfires this New Year’s Eve. Last year, a bonfire built at Scheveningen reached 48 metres in height. It resulted in fire flying through the air. The new regulations only permit bonfires up to 10 metres in height, and additionally require the organisers to get insurance with a 100,000 euro deductible. Without support from the municipality, most organisers will not be able to afford this. The bonfire at Duindorp beach has already been cancelled: it is expected that the one in Scheveningen will also be cancelled over the next couple of days.

The fires last year. 

Riots broke out in Duindorp this weekend

Some Dutchies are far from happy with this development. Riots broke out in Duindorp this weekend, probably as a result of these new regulations (the police have not yet confirmed this, however). Containers and rubbish bins were set on fire, and a bus stop was also damaged. Thirteen people were arrested, but have since been released. Among them was a nine-year-old, armed with a molotov cocktail. Fires were started, and the police estimate that a group of 50 people was involved with the riots this weekend. They think that the neighbourhood will remain restless til New Year’s Eve.

Local residents want the bonfires back

Local residents of Duindorp have also voiced their frustration with the decision, and fear that New Year’s Eve will be even more disruptive without the bonfires. Some also feel that the municipality is taking away a beloved tradition: “They can’t just let this take away,” one of them says. “There was ‘old-fashioned fun’ in the neighborhood again last night [referencing the riots] and that probably won’t stop for the time being. It will be the same cat and mouse game with the [municipality] as you saw in the 80s and 90s, before the bonfires. ”

Municipality holds firm on bonfire decision

The municipality has refused to entertain such ideas, saying that they will not be blackmailed out of their decision. It remains to be seen what kind of behaviour will take place on New Year’s Eve this year. If you’re confused about this VERY odd New Year’s Eve behaviour, we have an article about New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands that will explain everything.

What do you think of this decision? Should the bonfires stay, or do the police just need to crack down on rioters? Let us know in the comments below. 

Feature image: Emma Brown/Supplied. 

Ailish Lalor
Ailish Lalor
Ailish was born in Sydney, Australia, but grew up by a forest in south-east Ireland, which she has attempted to replace with a living room filled with plants in The Hague. Besides catering to her army of pannenkoekenplantjes, Ailish spends her days convincing her friends that all food is better slightly burnt, plotting ways to hang out with dogs and cats, and of course, writing for DutchReview.


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