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Remembrance Day and Liberation Day

Remembrance Day and Liberation Day

May 04, 2020May 05, 2020
The Netherlands

Remembrance Day and Liberation Day

The Netherlands has a unique way of commemorating the Second World War. There are two important days for this particular tribute: Remembrance Day on May 4 and Liberation Day on May 5. The commemoration starts with solemn ceremonies on May 4 as a symbol of respect for all the Dutch who died in conflicts around the world and continues the next day with big events such an open-air pop festival.

Remembrance Day 

The main Remembrance Day ceremonies are attended by the Dutch royal family and military leaders and veterans, with speeches and flower-laying ceremonies commemorating the soldiers and civilians who died fighting in wars across the world. Remembrance Day began as a memorial day specifically for those killed in World War II, but since 1961 it has also included victims of other military conflicts and peacekeeping missions. 

The most famous locations include the National Monument on Dam Square in Amsterdam, the Waalsdorpvlakte near The Hague and at the war cemetery in Grebbeberg. The ceremonies are broadcast live on television and radio across the country. There is a two-minute silence at 8pm every year, which is an important thing to keep in mind if you think you might be in a public place at that time. Public transport and other traffic stop at this time.

Remembrance Day cultural events in Amsterdam

There are numerous cultural activities taking place in Amsterdam on May 4: exhibitions, talks, guided tours, open houses and films. Many buildings that serve or once served the Jewish population of Amsterdam are open to the public for the occasion. Check out the website 4 en 5 mei Amsterdam for full details of this extensive programme.

Liberation Day

Liberation Day takes place the day after Remembrance Day, celebrating the freedom of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation after World War II. Some sources claim the first commemoration of this kind took place in 1946, but other sources say it was the previous year. 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. The next Liberation Day public holiday will be in 2020.

Liberation Day Festivals across the Netherlands

Liberation Day festivals are unmissable. There are massive pop concerts ready to take place in 14 cities, with over 300 pop artists performing. Here's where they're happening on May 5:

  • Amsterdam: 11am-11pm at Westergasfabriek 
  • Rotterdam: 12.30pm-11pm at Het Park
  • The Hague: 12pm-11pm at Malieveld
  • Utrecht: 1pm-11pm at Transwijk Park
  • Den Bosch: 12.30pm-11.30pm at Petteraarse Schans
  • Assen: 12pm-12am at Baggelhuizen festival grounds
  • Almere: 12pm-12am in various locations in the city centre
  • Leeuwarden: 1pm-11pm in various locations in the city centre
  • Wageningen: 12pm-12am in various locations in the city centre
  • Groningen: 12pm-11.30pm at Stadspark
  • Haarlem: 12pm-12am at Haarlemmerhout
  • Roermond: 12.30pm-12am in various locations in the city centre
  • Zwolle: 11am-11.30pm at Park de Wezenlanden
  • Vlissingen: 1pm-12am in various locations in the city centre

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Plan your Remembrance Day and Liberation Day

Keep in mind that there is a two-minute silence at 8pm on May 4 and public transport and other traffic stops at this time, so be prepared. Remember that May 5, 2019, is not a public holiday. Luckily, this year it falls on a Sunday, so for the majority of people, it will be easy to make the most of the day.