Raised in Massachusetts. University years in New York City. Graduate school in Utrecht. Amsterdammer...
Hearts in Holland: Tips for celebrating Valentine's Day in the Netherlands06 February 2014, by Benjamin Garstka
Amidst the grey Dutch winter comes Valentine’s Day, the harbinger of red roses, pink hearts and romance.
Valentijnsdag is a relatively new phenomenon in the Netherlands, only being celebrated since the mid-1990s as a result of a boom in the popularity of American culture. Although the Dutch have become less enthusiastic about Valentine’s Day over the years, the Netherlands remains full of romantic possibilities!
Valentine’s Day gifts
When it comes to Valentine’s gifts, the traditional ways to show off your sentimental side are with chocolates and flowers.
In a country known for its love affair with botany and mastery of the chocolate trade, you’re certainly in luck.
Take advantage of this cocoa-flavoured entrepreneurial spirit and make sweets with your sweetheart at a chocolate workshop at De Bonte Koe in Rotterdam, Chocolaterie Van Dam in Heemsteede, or Unlimited Delicious in Amsterdam.
No time to bake? Then head to the website of Tony’s Chocolonely where you can channel your inner cupid while creating a personalised wrapper for the one you love. Socially conscious, thoughtful and delicious.
› Flowers: roses, not tulips!
With no shortage of flowers in the Netherlands, the challenge lies in choosing the right arrangement for your beloved.
With extensive selections of floral arrangements and English-language options available, both Euroflorist and Topbloemen are florist networks where you can place orders that are then filled and delivered by a local re-seller near you.
› Relaxing spa days
If you're looking for a more intimate gift, try booking a massage or relaxation day at one of the great spas throughout the Netherlands.
› Netflix and a night in
Or break with tradition and think about getting your cuddle buddy a Netflix subscription.
Recently made available in the Netherlands, Netflix offers thousands of movies and television shows on-demand. Light those candles, grab a bottle of wine and get cosy on the couch with your favourite rom-com!
A Valentine's escape in the Lowlands
With Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday and a country with a knack for all that's gezellig and knus, take the opportunity to explore a new city as a couple.
Get creative! Think: a romantic dinner cruise in Amsterdam, stunning views from the Dom Tower in Utrecht, a charming boat rental in Giethoorn, moseying through Maastricht’s Vrijthof or marvelling at the windmills of Schiedam!
Valentine’s Date Nights
Instead of only gifts, try planning a special Valentine's night out with your significant other.
› Valentine's movies
› Loving laughter
Boom Chicago and Café Hofman are out to prove that laughter is linked to intimacy as they host evenings filled with international stand-up and sketch comedy aimed at highlighting the lighter moments of love.
› Themed dining
Go a step further and make the evening memorable with a special themed dinner.
Look for restaurants that break the norm such as Supperclub where dinner is served to you in bed while performers provide entertainment or the Michelin-starred Heemstede Castle where the top-quality food and service will have you feeling like nobility!
Singles Avenged: the Anti-Valentine
Whether you’re single by choice or recently experienced a break-up, February 14 is still a Friday and that’s reason enough to go out.
For the heartbroken, make the cathartic journey to Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk and pay a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships where relics from past affairs are put on display to therapeutic effect.
Single and proud. That’s the mantra behind the Singles Awareness Day movement. Celebrate singledom and go to a cinema, hit a bar or club you’ve never been to, make a day trip with friends or party with the like-minded at Alphabet Club's Valentine Masquerade!
Happy Valentine's Day!
Romantic or not, make this Valentine’s Day a special one!