Dutch school vacations and holiday dates 2016 - 2017

Wondering when the next school vacation is or how the Dutch school holiday system works?

The Dutch school vacation schedule

When it comes to determining holidays, Dutch schools and international schools in the Netherlands are divided into three regions: North, Central and South. To avoid a holiday rush each region has its own vacation schedule.

Fixed school holidays in the Netherlands

Some school holidays (schoolvakanties) such as the summer, Christmas and May vacations, are fixed.

The May vacation cannot be moved, but schools can extend it by one week. It is therefore important to always check the precise dates with your school.

Flexible school holidays in the Netherlands

Schools are allowed to deviate from the advised holiday period for spring break and the autumn vacation.

For example, schools in the south of the Netherlands often shift their spring break forward to correspond with Carnival, instead of having it later like the rest of the country.

Autumn vacation dates can also be flexible for school districts, but usually these remain the same as the advised dates.

Can I take my child on vacation outside of the school holiday periods?

The Dutch government does not permit parents to take their children on vacation outside of the school holiday periods. Parents who do this violate the Compulsory Education law (Leerplichtwet).

In exceptional circumstances parents can submit a request (known as a beroep op vrijstelling) to the school board for leave outside holiday periods. This is only allowed once per school year and must be requested at least eight weeks in advance.

Other conditions are that the leave is intended for a family holiday, is for a maximum period of 10 days and must not occur in the first two weeks after the summer holidays.

The three Dutch vacation regions

The Dutch provinces are divided into three regions that determine when school vacation is:

The Northern region (regio noord):

North Holland (including Amsterdam and Loosdrecht), Groningen, Friesland, Drenthe, Overijssel, Flevoland (except Zeewolde), Gelderland (Hattem) and Eemnes in Utrecht

The Central region (regio midden):

South Holland (including The Hague and Rotterdam), part of Gelderland, Utrecht (except Eemnes) and Werkendam and Woudrichem in North Brabant

The Southern region (regio zuid):

Gelderland (including Arnhem and Nijmegen), Limburg, Zeeland and North Brabant (except Werkendam and Woudrichem)

dutch school vacations holidays

2016 - 2017 school holidays in the Netherlands

These are this year's school vacations for primary and high schools in the Netherlands:

Spring break 2016 (voorjaarsvakantie, carnavalsvakantie or krokusvakantie)

- North: February 27 - March 6, 2016
- Central: February 20 - February 28, 2016
- South: February 20 - February 28, 2016

May vacation 2016 (meivakantie)

- North: April 30 - May 8, 2016
- Central: April 30 - May 8, 2016
- South: April 30 - May 8, 2016

Summer vacation 2016 (zomervakantie)

- North: July 16 - August 28, 2016
- Central: July 9 - August 21, 2016
- South: July 23 - September 4, 2016

Autumn vacation 2016 (herfstvakantie)

- North: October 15 - October 23, 2016
- Central: October 15 - October 23, 2016
- South: October 22 - October 30, 2016

Christmas vacation 2016 - 2017 (kerstvakantie)

- North: December 24, 2016 - January 8, 2017
- Central: December 24, 2016 - January 8, 2017
- South: December 24, 2016 - January 8, 2017

Other school holidays in 2016

Free days for students outside of the school holidays in 2016 are:
Good Friday / Goede vrijdag - March 25, 2016
Easter Monday / 2e paasdag - March 28, 2016
King’s Day / Koningsdag - April 27, 2016
Whit Monday / 2e pinksterdag - May 16, 2016

Holiday childcare

If you need to work during the school vacations then a holiday programme (vakantieopgang) might be a good option for your child.

Some childcare centres (kinderopvang) with afterschool care for school-age children (buitenschoolse opvang) also offer holiday programmes which can include sports, excursions or camping trips.

Other education institutions and holidays

The school holiday schedule is not applicable to childcare centres or to Dutch higher education.

Universities and vocational education institutions (MBO) can set their own holiday dates.

Other Dutch holidays

For national holidays please check out Dutch holidays and days off.

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