Only sooty Piets present at national Sinterklaas arrival event

Only sooty Piets present at national Sinterklaas arrival event

This year, during the national Sinterklaas arrival event, which is taking place in Apeldoorn, only Piets with soot on their faces will be present, announced the NTR, a Dutch public service broadcaster. Sinterklaas will arrive in the Netherlands on November 16.

No more Piets in completely black makeup

This year, only Piets (Sinterklaas’ helpers) with soot marks on their faces will feature in the Sinterklaas arrival event instead of completely black makeup. The NTR, which is responsible for the Sinterklaasjournaal, following Sinterklaas on his journey to the Netherlands each year, decided upon this together with the municipality of Apeldoorn.

Back in 2014, the NTR introduced the sooty Piet to the public and has since then gradually decreased the number of Piets wearing completely black makeup in the event. In 2018, the NTR posted a statement on their website which initially seemed to suggest that the Piets in completely black makeup would already not feature in that year’s event. However, this was not the case and led to a great deal of confusion. The NTR responded that those in full black makeup had simply been through the chimney more often and therefore had more soot on their faces.

Watch Sinterklaas’ arrival

Sinterklaas will arrive in Apeldoorn on November 16. He won’t be on his traditional steamboat though, as it is too big to fit through the canal. Before the national arrival event, you can follow Sinterklaas via the Sinterklaasjournaal which starts on November 11 and airs daily at 6pm on NPO Zapp / NPO 3.

The whole Sinterklaas, Zwarte Piet (Black Piet) tradition is a great source of controversy. Last year, anti- and pro-Zwarte Piet groups held protests during arrival events in many Dutch cities. Protests are also possible this year, as the national arrival event is one of many, and others, therefore, could still feature Piet in completely black makeup.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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