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: Liberation Day 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.
Is Liberation Day a public holiday in the Netherlands?
Liberation Day is only a public holiday in the Netherlands every five years, with businesses, schools and other establishments closed. The next official Liberation Day national holiday will be on May 5, 2025.
What happens on 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.
Visit a Liberation Day Festival in the Netherlands
Every year, the national celebration of May 5 takes place in fourteen provincial cities (Amsterdam, Den Bosch, The Hague, Assen, Almere, Leeuwarden, Wageningen, Groningen, Haarlem, Roermond, Zwolle, Utrecht, Vlissingen and Rotterdam), each holding its own official Liberation Day Festival, which is free to attend.
Together, these festivals form the largest music event in the Netherlands; with over 200 Dutch artists performing on 40 different stages across the country.
As of 1991, the National Committee for 4 and 5 May appoints certain Dutch artists to be the “Ambassadors of Freedom” of that year. These ambassadors are transported from festival to festival by helicopter to draw attention to human rights, lack of freedom, and wars elsewhere in the world. The Ambassadors of freedom for 2023 are: Tabitha, Froukje and MEAU.
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.
Liberation Day Festival Videos
Here are some videos to give you an impression on what it's like to attend one of the official Liberation Day Festivals in the Netherlands: