New Year’s Eve fireworks in the Netherlands: What you need to know
On New Year’s Eve, the Netherlands becomes a sort of mix between a pyromaniacal wonderland and a battlefield of playful explosions. Here’s some information on the rules in the Netherlands, where to find the best fireworks, how to stay safe and other tips!
Professional fireworks displays in the Netherlands
Firework shows are great to attend on New Year’s Eve for various reasons. First of all, it’s a gathering place where you and your friends can meet. Secondly, the fireworks are lit by licensed handlers who are allowed to use bigger and more fireworks than average households, ensuring the show will be much more spectacular, and safer, than whatever people can light themselves.
Are fireworks legal in the Netherlands?
Some municipalities and cities have already introduced fireworks bans, but elsewhere in the Netherlands, the national ban on purchasing fireworks is lifted for just three days leading up to New Year’s Eve. In 2023, you are allowed to purchase fireworks from licensed sellers on December 28, 29 and 30. Since December 31 falls on a Sunday in 2023, it will not be possible to purchase fireworks on this day.
Generally, lighting fireworks is only allowed on New Year's Eve, between the hours of 6pm on December 31 and 2am on January 1. If you light them outside of these hours you risk confiscation and a fine of between 100 and 400 euros.
In certain areas, such as near hospitals, animal shelters, animal parks and certain residential areas, fireworks are not allowed due to the added nuisance and risk. While a firework show will mainly focus on visual displays, many people who buy their own fireworks tend to opt for the kinds in which their loud explosions are the main attraction.
Where and to buy fireworks in the Netherlands
As rules regarding fireworks are ever-changing, it is important to purchase them at a licensed selling point. That way, you can be sure that your fireworks are legal and, more importantly, that they meet safety standards.
Key fireworks safety tips
Every year, New Year’s Eve sees victims of firework accidents and emergency patients flooding into Dutch hospitals, due to unsafe handling. Young people between the ages of 10 and 19 are at particular risk, and most often injuries occur to heads, eyes and hands.
Some basic safety rules are:
- Keep pets indoors
- Wear safety glasses
- Store the fireworks in a dry and cool place
- Never carry them in your pockets
- Don’t wear flammable clothing or hoods
- Find a steady and flat base to light from
- Use a launch stand for rockets
- Check the age restrictions and instructions
- Keep passersby in mind
- Keep fireworks away from children
- Keep track of the wind direction
- Never experiment by bundling fireworks
- Stay at least six metres away after lighting
- Never relight fireworks that don’t work the first time
- Keep a bucket of water handy
A guide to different kinds of Dutch fireworks
Here are some of the fireworks that are used in the Netherlands, with their Dutch names:
Sparklers are little sticks that emit small, bright sparks when lit, like a little twinkling star. These are one of the safest kinds of fireworks, as the sparks are very small.
Bengaalse lucifers (Bengal matches)
Bengal matches are a kind of thick match that emit a coloured flame.
When lit, whistlers spin and dance over the ground, making a whistling, spitting sound. Other floor spinners have names such as grondbloemen (ground flowers).
Cakes fire multiple shots into the air, creating a visual effect. There are different kinds of various shapes and sizes.
Fountains explode into a fountain-like spray of colourful fire, creating a rain of sparks.
Rockets are the most traditional of fireworks. After shooting straight up into the air, they explode and often emit a huge bloom of fiery, coloured sparks.
Rotjes and other firecrackers come in all shapes and sizes in the Netherlands. When lit, they emit very loud bangs.
Gillende keukenmeiden (screaming kitchen maids)
Screaming kitchen maids shoot over the ground and give off a shrill, scream-like sound, comparable to a tea kettle.
Surviving NYE celebrations in the Netherlands
Worried about what to expect on December 31? This video might give you a bit of an idea:
Surviving New Year's celebrations in the Netherlands
Making sure everybody is safe and obeys the rules during New Year’s is all but impossible for Dutch law enforcement to do on their own. They will be doing as much as possible, but it is up to individuals to enjoy themselves responsibly, for their own sake, but also the people around them. Stay safe and enjoy your New Year's celebrations!
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