There is already plenty to do in Rotterdam, but there are some days visiting the city might be even more enjoyable. We made a selection of some yearly festivals and holidays to keep in mind when picking the perfect travel date.
Wereldhavendagen (World Port Days)
World Port Days is a large annual multi-day event in the first weekend of September in the port of Rotterdam. The aim is to introduce the public to and give a glimpse behind the scenes of the port of Rotterdam, for example through ship visits, demonstrations on the water and presentations by port companies. The event attracts colse to 500,000 visitors every year.
Nowadays an important attraction is also the musical show and the fireworks on Saturday evening on the Nieuwe Maas, near the Erasmus Bridge. The International Shantyfestival Rotterdam will also take place during the event. Many shanty choirs from all over the world will perform at various locations in the Oude Haven and Leuvehaven. Regular participants are the providers of port services, such as tugs, pilots, rowers, water ships, and so on. The Port Authority, the Sea Police, Customs and the Royal Navy are also always present.
When? Every year in the first weekend of September.
Zomercarnaval (Summer Carnival)
The Summer Carnival is an anual event created to experience a carnival as celebrated in the West-Indies. The first edition was held in 1984 and was organised by locals from the Dutch-Antillean community. Nowadays a multi-day event that attracts almost one million visitors yearly. Unfortunately not celebrated because of Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021, the event is back on the agenda for 2022 and is planned for the last weekend of July.
The main event is the street parade on saturday in which sometimes over 50 groups participate. At first the groups were mainly from the Dutch-Antillean community but nowadays you will also see groups from the Capeverdean, Surinamese and Dominican community, among others. Because of this the event was renamed to Rotterdam Unlimited and is now a way to celebrate the diversity of Rotterdam. A city with over 180 nationalities.
Next to the parade there are a lot of things going on during this vibrant festival. There are brass band battles, live music and all kinds of performances. And if you love to taste the food of other cultures, you’re at the right place. There are many street stands selling food from a wide variety of cuisines.
When? Every year, usually in the last weekend of July.
Koningsdag (King’s Day)
Previously known as Koninginnedag ( Queen’s Day), having had three consecutive queens, the day was renamed Koningsdag in 2013. Eventhough renamed and moved to an earlier date, it still remains one of the most popular holidays of The Netherlands. It’s a national holiday and pretty much every Dutchman has the day off. On April 27th we celebrate the fact that we are a monarchy and have a king, but for most Dutch people it’s just another excuse to go out and party. And like we love to do at major sports events a lot of people wear something orange .
You’ll find festivities in every Dutch city and ofcourse Rotterdam is no exception. Most people will tell you you have to go to Amsterdam since it has an absolute abundance of festivities, but it’s also by far the most visited Koningsdag. So celebrating it in Amsterdam can be a bit too much for the average King’s Day rookie.
The Vrijmarkt (literally ‘free market’) is a nationwide flea market, at which many people sell their used goods. Koningsdag is the one day of the year that the Dutch government permits sales on the street without a permit and without the payment of value added tax. It’s especially popular with children, trying to earn an extra buck selling stuff or performing.
Next to the Vrijmarkt the city offer concerts and a lot of bars organise special Koningsdag parties. For some you need tickets, but most parties are held in the streets with DJ’s. The whole Koningsdag celebration is pretty much an outdoor experience, so the Dutch weather can be a real killjoy.
Koningsdag is a unique experience that you should visit at least once if you love to party and wear orange well.
When? April 27th every year. Unless the 27th is on a sunday, then the day will be moved to April 26th.