Making the most of Dutch public holidays in 2021

Making the most of Dutch public holidays in 2021

Sadly, the Netherlands doesn’t enjoy very many public holidays. So, you need to get the most out of the days off you’ll be getting in 2021.

Using a clever combination of Dutch public holidays and whatever holiday days you might have leftover after the coronavirus crisis scuppered your vacation plans, there are a number of options for making the most of your time off over the next 12 months. Here’s how. 

Dutch public holidays in 2021

With Christmas and New Years behind us, we have a while to wait until the next public holidays grace us in April. 2020 was a pretty good year for holidays, with many of the big ones falling on a Friday or a Monday, thereby guaranteeing a luxurious long weekend - plus the added bonus of having Liberation Day (May 5) off!

2021, however, is looking a little different. But with all full-time workers guaranteed at least 20 days of paid holiday each year (and some employers offering as much as 24 or even 32 days), there are a lot of opportunities for stretching out your holidays as much as possible. 

Including New Year's Day, the Netherlands only offers five holidays in 2021 that don’t fall on a weekend. Not quite as good as 2020, but it still means that you can, for example, turn your 24 holiday days into 29. Here are some tips on how.

April: Easter weekend and King's Day

Many people went back to work on January 4, which probably felt like a pretty bleak day after the festive period. The good news is that from January 4 there were exactly three months to wait until the next official public holiday: Easter Sunday on April 4. 

Many people work on Good Friday (April 2), but Easter Monday (April 5) is a public holiday. If you have children, they will most likely get Good Friday off too, so you could make it an extra-long weekend and take the Friday off as well. Alternatively, use your holiday days for the week of April 5 - with Easter Monday as a public holiday, you’ll only have to use four holiday days to enjoy a nice nine-day break!

April 2021 is bookended by public holidays this year, with Easter falling early in the month and one of two Dutch national holidays, King’s Day, on April 27. This year, King’s Day falls on a Tuesday, so you could choose to take April 26 off to and stretch out your weekend (or, if you’re worried about working with a hangover, take one of those holiday days on April 28). 

A wealth of holidays in May

May is another great month for public holidays, with Ascension Day and Whit (Pentecost) Monday falling within two weeks of each other. Ascension Day falls on May 13 (a Thursday, as is custom) and many people opt to take the Friday off too, making it a nice long weekend. 

Alternatively, you could bridge between Ascension day and Whit Monday (May 24). Taking May 14, as well as May 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21 off could give you a tidy 12-day holiday while only using up six days of leave! 

The dry spell of the summer months 

Tragically, with the bulk of the Dutch public holidays falling in the first five months of the year, June through to December marks a real dry spell when it comes to time off. In fact, there are almost seven months to the day between Whit Monday and Christmas Day (the next public holiday).

If you do want to take some time off over the summer months, school holidays in 2021 fall between mid-July and early September (depending on which part of the country you live in) so make sure you and your family check which dates apply to you before booking any time off.

Alternatively, if you’re hoping to avoid the summer rush, try to book time off outside of the peak summer months and pray that whatever nice weather the Netherlands sees this year will last long into September.

Christmas and New Years offer few options

Sad news to anyone who typically uses the festive period as an opportunity to squeeze as much out of their holidays as possible. In 2021, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year's Day all fall on a weekend - life just isn’t fair. 

Take time to relax - you've earned it!

It might be a little early to already start planning your time off for Christmas 2021, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think about ways to make the most out of the meagre Dutch public holidays, and get to booking your time off work - quick, before any of your colleagues get there first!

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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