Raised in Massachusetts. University years in New York City. Graduate school in Utrecht. Amsterdammer...
Celebrating Easter in the Netherlands: Brunch, Markets, Fires and Festivals!11 April 2014, by Benjamin Garstka
In the Netherlands, Easter is a nationally recognised public holiday celebrated over two days, including the traditional Easter Sunday (Eerste Paasdag) and the following Monday (Tweede Paasdag). For 2014, the official dates are April 20 and April 21.
Although the degree to which Easter is observed varies according to the individual and his or her religious denomination, it is a time predominantly spent with family and loved ones.
Nowadays, Easter traditions in the Netherlands are similar to those of many Western countries and include the dyeing and decorating of eggs, giving chocolates or candies as gifts and Easter egg hunts for children.
With spring in the air and the flowers in bloom, Easter truly is a fantastic time to be in the Netherlands.
To help you celebrate, we’ve compiled a mix of characteristic and more alternative activities so you can make the most of your long weekend.
Typically taking place on Easter Sunday, getting together with family (or close friends) is a very common Easter activity in the Netherlands.
For dining out, many restaurants around the Netherlands will offer a special menu for Easter brunch. In Amsterdam, the Hard Rock Café annually hosts a special buffet brunch featuring egg-decorating and face painting for children.
For a more quaint experience, make a reservation at Theehuis Rhijnauwen. Just a short bike ride through a beautiful patch of forest in Utrecht, it’s a great family destination that offers an assortment of pancakes, a casual brunch and high-tea options on the banks of the Kromme Rijn.
Dining in the sky, that’s the slogan at Euromast in Rotterdam. Especially for Easter, they will be serving a full brunch and high tea at 100 metres above the city while offering an accompanying children’s programme to keep the kids entertained!
Preparing a home-cooked meal? Be adventurous and try making a traditional Paasbrood (a type of fruit bread) or gevulde eieren (Dutch-style devilled eggs). For dessert, look no further than The Dutch Table's creative Paashaasjes (Easter Bunny rolls) and Paastaart (Easter cake). Or, make an attempt at these wonderful Easter brunch recipes by The Cooking Coach Karen Vivers!
Casual Browsing at Easter Markets
Another quintessential Dutch Easter tradition is the market. All around the Netherlands, a variety of open-air markets will be popping up for family-oriented browsing and ample gezelligheid!
In The Hague, the annual Easter market, consisting of over 100 stalls selling everything from art and antiques to accessories and bric-a-brac, will take place from April 19 to 21 along the Lange Voorhout.
Set in the oldest city of the Netherlands, the local Easter market in Nijmegen is another long-running tradition that takes over the historic centre with a variety of books, CDs, paintings and other art-works on April 21.
In Amsterdam, the much beloved Pure Markt will also be in the Easter spirit on Sunday at the Beatrixpark. Offering an abundance of snacks and artisanal foods, it’s the perfect opportunity to get creative and have a picnic brunch made of items purchased from the stalls!
Easter is Festival Time
As much as markets are ingrained in the Easter tradition, so are festivals. Make the most of the long weekend by getting out and attending some inspiring performances!
A perennial favourite of Dutch audiences is Paaspop in Schijndel. Taking place from April 18-20, this is a major event and consistently features top international acts. This year’s line-up includes The Prodigy, Fritz Kalkbrenner, 2ManyDjs and The Boxer Rebellion.
The electro-heavy DGTL in Amsterdam’s NDSM-Werf is another annual crowd pleaser that will be bringing underground talents Âme, Dixon, Gui Boratto, Skream and others to the Dutch capital from April 19-20.
For those of a more alternative bent, try the Elf Fantasy Fair in Haarzuilen near Utrecht for a fully costumed character convention, or the Historic Festival in Raalte where the Middle Ages and other eras are brought back to life.
Dutch Easter Fires Light the East
A pre-Christian tradition, the lighting of fires is Germanic in origin and served as a symbol of spring conquering the winter.
Today, massive bonfires are still lit in cities and towns in the Eastern provinces of Drenthe, northeast Gelderland, areas of Groningen and Overijssel. Although formerly a symbol for fertility (as the ash would be used to enrich soil), the fires now serve a more social function.
Characteristically taking place on Easter Sunday, a great place to witness these fires is in the, but it is the town of Espelo that for a fire that grew to be 45,98 metres high in 2012!
Family Friendly Amusement Parks
Easter is, after all, a time for family and the Netherlands has plenty of entertaining options for parents with kids, cousins and other loved ones in tow.
A popular day out for the Dutch includes visiting one of the many amusement parks. If you’ve never been, use this opportunity to venture to the Dutch fantasy worlds of Efteling, gaze at the magnificent flowers of the Keukenhof, be thrilled by the spectacular rides at Drievliet, or reconnect with wildlife at Artis Zoo.
No matter what you choose to do, we here at IamExpat would like to wish you and your loved ones a very happy Easter!