Top 8 free expat-friendly summer events in the Netherlands

Top 8 free expat-friendly summer events in the Netherlands

As the warm weather hits, many of us become more sociable and enjoy going to events more than ever. Although there are plenty of things happening every day, they can be expensive when you add them all up, so it's also tempting to just sit in the park for free and enjoy the great weather and vibrant atmosphere! 

Throughout the summer, come rain, hail or shine, there are numerous events and festivals to attend for free in the Netherlands. It's always useful to have some events in mind that won't burn a hole in your pocket.

Expat events you can attend for free

Here are some great events in the Netherlands that are both ideal for expats and you can go to for free!

Rotterdam Unlimited (July)

Rotterdam Unlimited is one big five-day celebration of international diversity, culture and art. The festival focuses on Rotterdam's latest trends, cultural encounters, talent development and artistic exchanges, as well as more than 174 different cultures that reside in Rotterdam.

Probably the most renowned event during Rotterdam Unlimited is Summer Carnival - the most "colourful and tropical" two-day party in the Netherlands, celebrating Latin and Caribbean carnival traditions. Most events at Rotterdam Unlimited are free of charge!

summer carnival rotterdam

Vierdaagsefeesten (July)

Vierdaagsefeesten welcomes 1,6 million visitors to Nijmegen each year, with 1.000 performances across 40 stages. This free public festival is the celebratory side of the famous International Four Day Marches. The march itself has taken place since 1909 and has been based in Nijmegen since 1916. The free music festival, on the other hand, only began in 1970, thanks to popular demand.

So, join thousands of people from all over the world as they put on their walking boots for four days, and celebrate in the city for seven days! This year marks the 50th anniversary of Vierdaagsefeesten.

Tilburg Funfair - the biggest funfair in Benelux (July)

Tilburg Funfair is the largest funfair in the Benelux region. Be one of a million visitors enjoying the 200 attractions at the 4,5km-long funfair that takes over the city of Tilburg for 10 days. Visitors pay for each ride and attraction separately, but there is no admission cost and no need to reserve.

As well as the usual amusement arcade games and thrilling rides, it also involves a giant parade, a theatre fair, markets, fireworks and music. There is plenty of live music, featuring techno, rap, hip-hop and more. The fair culminates in spectacular fireworks on the very last night. 

Tilburg funfair Benelux

Amsterdam Pride (July / August)

The internationally renowned Amsterdam Pride returns to the Amsterdam for nine days of street festivals that you can attend completely for free, parties, films, exhibitions, debates and of course the Canal Parade! On Saturday, July 27, 2019, the Vondelpark will be filled with activities like a rainbow market, sports workshops and performances.

Before Pride Park starts, the Pride Walk will begin from the "Homomonument" at the Westerkerk and march to the park for the event’s official opening.

amsterdam pride

Edam Cheese Market (July / August)

Cheese is probably the most popular Dutch food that there is. The cheese itself may cost a pretty penny, but witnessing these age-old traditions is utterly priceless!

The Edam cheese market operates on Wednesdays in July and August! Tradition is preserved at the Edam cheese market, from horse-drawn cheese carts to old bargaining rituals. After a history spanning from 1680 until 1922, the Edam cheese market was revived in 1989 in cooperation with over 90 volunteers and is now going strong each summer.

The cheese market is now a major tourist event in the cosy and authentic town of Edam. Besides the spectacle of cheese carriers and merchants practising their trade, it is also host to an old Dutch street organ and the Edam cheese chapel.

Alkmaar Cheese Market (March to September)

Although Edam cheese is famous, the Alkmaar Cheese Market is an even more world-famous tourist attraction. It has been around since at least 1593. This market, packed with cheese, cheese-hauling carriers, scales and traditional dress, is a rare sight to behold.

Inside the monumental Waaghuis (Weigh house), in the centre of Alkmaar, you’ll find the Dutch Cheese Museum. The history of Dutch cheese making, trading and farming culture can be explored in this special location. Amongst the things on display, you can find historical artefacts, utensils, film and paintings from as early as the 16th century.

edam cheese market netherlands

Floating Flower Parade (August)

For three days in August every year, around half a million visitors gather to admire this spectacle on the water. Floating parades of boats adorned with flowers sail on the waters of South Holland, passing by places like The HagueDelft and Vlaardingen.

The Floating Flower Parade (Varend Corso) is a dazzling affair in which more than 50 boats are decorated with not only 450.000 flowers, but also 120.000 other plants and 80.000 fruits and vegetables. More specifically, flowers include roses, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, orchids, dahlias and more. There are also 36.000 bell peppers, 15.000 tomato vines and 30.000 exotic fruits in use.

floating flower parade varend corso westland

Pluk de Nacht film festival (August)

Pluk de Nacht outdoor film festival is the biggest film festival that operates solely outdoors - and completely for free! It doesn't just focus on one genre or film-style in particular, but rather, a mix of anything from romantic comedies and cult classics to blockbuster action and independent documentaries. Attend Pluk de Nacht (Seize the Night) in two Dutch cities: from July 31-August 4 in Utrecht and from August 14-25 in Amsterdam.

Enjoy some fun events for free in the Netherlands

Who knew enjoying yourself at some of the most beloved events in the Netherlands could happen for free? Of course, public transport, food and drink will have to be factored in, but nevertheless, with the free entry, you can have a memorable time without spending much. Sign up for the IamExpat newsletter to stay up to date on the free events and festivals taking place throughout the year.

Rachel Deloughry


Rachel Deloughry

Rachel is a writer, editor and digital content creator, passionate about the arts, culture and lifestyle.

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