Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) takes place each year on May 5, the day after Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking). It is a celebration of the Netherlands being freed from Nazi occupation after World War II.
Nowadays, Liberation Day is a day of national observance, but every five years it’s celebrated as a public holiday, with schools and businesses closed throughout the country.
May 5 in the Netherlands
In May 1945, Canadian, British, Polish, American, Belgian, Dutch and Czech servicemen liberated the eastern and northern parts of the Netherlands, having entered the country from the east. Other parts of the country were liberated by the British Second Army, which was made up of British, Polish, American and French soldiers. It was declared as fully liberated on May 5, 1945.
Initially, it was commemorated and celebrated every five years, but since 1990, it became a yearly event on the Dutch calendar. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is still only every five years that Liberation Day is actually a day off, with businesses, schools and other establishments closed. The next official Liberation Day national holiday will be on May 5, 2025.
Ways to mark Liberation Day in the Netherlands
Things that usually happen on Liberation Day include:
- Convoys of military vehicles throughout the Netherlands
- Open-air pop festivals
- Documentaries about the liberation of the Netherlands
- Walking routes
The day can be celebrated through live music, festivals, and many other celebrations. Since 1987, the Liberation Day programme has been organised by National Committee for 4 and 5 May (Nationaal Comité 4 en 5 mei), which is the main Dutch authority for war monuments and memorials.
Learn more about Liberation Day online
Learn more about the history of Liberation Day in the Netherlands, or check out the website of 4 en 5 mei Amsterdam for full details of this year's programme, as well as the Liberation Day Festivals website.