2020 – Public and school holidays in the Netherlands (with free calendar)

Life in ‘another country’ means also adapting to the local holidays, uses and traditions. Although the Netherlands do not differ that much from Italy in terms of culture, holidays (also the ones based on religion) somehow do.
For example, in NL we do not celebrate 15 August, 1 November and 8 December, but we do celebrate Ascension day and Whit Sunday/Monday (that haven’t a fixed date, but happen in May/beginning of June).
Furthermore, school holidays are more spread around the year than what they are in Italy (where we are off for approximately three month in summer – June, July and August).

In this moment of almost entering a new year and planning, I’ve therefore decided to write down the public and school holidays in the Netherlands, together with a free calendar to download at the bottom of the page (both with and without marked Dutch festivities). Here below you can find the links to the three sections

Public holidays (wettelijke feestdagen)

Here you can find a list of public holidays in the Netherlands for 2020. Be aware that they do not directly correspond to days off! A lot depends on the company you work for. For example, the university where I work is closed both the Friday before and the Monday after Easter, while the company where Cristian works closes only on the Monday.

Old and New1 January 2020
Good Friday10 April 2020
Easter12 April 2020
Easter Monday / Little Easter13 April 2020
King’s day27 April 2020
Liberation day5 May 2020
Ascension day (Hemelvaart)21 May 2020
Whit Sunday/Pentecost (Pinksteren)31 May 2020
Whit Monday1 June 2020
Christmas25 December 2020
Boxing day26 December 2020

There are few peculiarities in the Dutch calendar: one thing I’ve immediately noticed when I started working in the Netherlands is that most of the holidays are concentrated in April and May. Actually my supervisor at that time mentioned something like “take some extra days off in between to visit your family – these are the last holidays before Christmas”. Which sounds extreme, but it’s pretty much true looking at the table above (not taking into account leave days of course).

Also, in the Netherlands May 1st is not celebrated “because there are too many festivities in that period already” – the motivation I’ve heard at some point.
Actually, the reason underlying this decision (which is quite different from the rest of Europe) seems more complicated and lying in some political argues between labor-unions and government (I link here an interesting article from the Volkskrant from two years ago – in Dutch – may you be interested), in a milder socialist and communistic history, and in the fact that Dutch companies wouldn’t see positively public demonstrations.
The Volkskrant also says we shouldn’t worry about that day off – it’s compensated somewhere else in the year.

Carnival is celebrated only in the South of the Netherlands (!), and happens between February 24th and 28th 2020. Also here in most of the cases companies follow the normal working schedule. However, you’ll be able to take part to other wild and colorful parties.

Furthermore the liberation day (Bevrijdingsdag) on May 5th is an official Dutch festivity, but not necessarily a day off – actually both Cristian and I work on that day. On the other hand, the Netherlands has an additional festivity celebrating the monarchy on King’s day (April 27th) since 2014. Before that, it used to be Queen’s day (April 30th). King’s day is a very loud, festive, orange day.

School holidays

As mentioned above, school holidays are well divided across the year in spring, May, summer, autumn and Christmas holidays.
Although all schools divide days off in these chunks, they might differ slightly according to the geography. In a wrap, when there is a difference, schools in the North of the Netherlands anticipate the holiday.
You can find the details below.

Spring holiday (voorjaarsvakantie)

  • North 15 – 23 February 2020
  • Center and South 22 February – 1 March 2020

May holiday (meivakantie)

  • North, Center and South 25 April – 3 May 2020

Summer holiday (zomervakantie)

  • North 4 July – 16 August 2020
  • Center 18 July – 30 August 2020
  • South 11 July – 23 August 2020

Autumn holiday (herfstvakantie)

  • North 10 – 18 October 2020
  • Center and South 17 – 25 October 2020

Christmas holiday (Kerstvakantie)

  • North, Center and South 19 December 2020 – 3 January 2021

Free calendars to download

And finally, I’ve created a simple calendar to keep up with all the appointments (and holidays!) of 2020. I like a simple and neat basis where notes have their own space.
Feel free to personalize it, or keep simple! Here below you can have a sneak, while the links to download are below the picture.

My best wishes for a great 2020!

Marta

Featured picture: Estée Janssens from Unsplash

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