Living the Dutch life - December

The most magical time of the year

Light Festival

Enjoy this beautiful Light Festival in Amsterdam until 20 January 2019, with exclusive creations made by top international artists. When the dusk falls at the end of the day, brightly coloured projections and dynamic light installations illuminate the city’s waterways and streets. The light art sculptures can be seen on foot, by bike and by boat across the entire city centre. Every year a selection is made of the best ideas submitted by many talented artists, architects and designers to create innovative and unique works of art. The festival also hosts several activities in museums, theatres and restaurants. 

Sinterklaas Celebration

On 5 December the long awaited present evening is celebrated in most Dutch homes. Children will sing songs to Sinterklaas until they hear a knock on their door and find a bag filled with gifts. Older children and adults celebrate 5 December by making poems and surprises for family or friends. The surprises are gifts made personal to the receiver, accompanied by funny poems and jokes. The gifts are traditionally hidden in a handcrafted package and some people get really creative and competitive making this, using all kinds of strange materials and clues to make it hard for the receiver to find the hidden gift.

Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival

Visit one of the top-5 winter events in the Netherlands - The Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival. In Zwolle until 3 March 2019 enjoy this fun and unique experience for the whole family. In a large icehall you will find enchanting worlds with beautiful ice sculptures, following the World Famous Stories theme, so expect Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin. During the Christmas Break there will also be an ice slide and a special Winter Wonderland playground for children. On the catering terrace you can enjoy a hot chocolate or mulled wine to warm up, but make sure to dress warm as well!

National Fireworks Rotterdam

During New Year’s Eve, the biggest and most spectacular fireworks show of the Netherlands takes place in Rotterdam. The evening starts with a musical countdown on the quay playing the greatest hits of 2018 while free oliebollen are offered. At midnight, beautiful fireworks will burst from the Erasmus Bridge, the icon of Rotterdam. It is 800 metres long and has a 139 metre high pylon in the shape of a swan. For children there is a special children’s fireworks show at 7 pm. The countdown and fireworks are broadcast live on national TV, in case you can not be there.

New Year’s Dive

Celebrate the 1st of January the traditional Dutch way by plunging into the ice cold North Sea! The number of participants each year increases and there are more than 80 locations throughout the country organizing a New Year’s Dive! The largest dive, however, is held at the beach of Scheveningen. After a festive New Year’s Eve with oliebollen, apple flapjacks and champagne, it is definitely a way to start the new year fresh! To stay warm all participants are offered an original Unox cap and split pea soup...

Winter Activities

The month of December is the most magical time of the year as the cities come alive and people enjoy the wonderful variety of fun and cosy winter activities. In most big cities, their outdoor or indoor Christmas markets are definitely worth a visit! From unique settings in Dickens Style, choirs singing Christmas carols to underground markets in spellbinding caves, we recommend you get out and explore what there is to offer in your city. Please find below some of our recommendations:

Christmas City Valkenburg – from 16 November till 6 January

Magical Maastricht – 1 until 31 December *

Winter Fair Rotterdam – from 5 until 9 December

Christmas market Haarlem – from 8 until 9 December

Ice Amsterdam – from 14 until 26 December *

Dickens Festival Deventer – from 15 until 16 December

* includes ice-skating rink!


Categories: Team Talk


Living the Dutch life - November

Get cosy, get creative and explore this November!

Affordable Art Fair

Take the chance to buy an original piece of art at The Affordable Art Fair, taking place in Amsterdam 31 Oct - 4 Nov. This unique concept makes art accessible to everyone, allowing you to buy works of art by upcoming and established artists at affordable prices. The event also offers free workshops to attend, making it a fair perfect for a family day out. A broad range of art will be presented, from figurative to abstract and from traditional to avant-garde.

Museum Night

See Amsterdam’s museums, literally, in a completely new light during Museum Night taking place 3 November. Over 50 museums will participate during this art and culture themed night, which includes well-known museums such as the Hermitage and Maritime Museum, but also some of the city’s smaller institutions. Once it gets dark you can enjoy many exceptional performances and workshops across the entire city. A single ticket allows access to all museums and one free visit to a museum after the Museum Night. 

National School Breakfast

During the National School Breakfast week, 5-9 November, parents are encouraged to send their child to school for breakfast so they can enjoy it with their classmates. More than 2,900 primary schools will participate in this yearly event in which schools serve healthy and nutritious breakfasts, whilst educating the children in a fun way how important and simple it this to have breakfast. During this week there will be all kinds of special events and this year’s theme is: A party for everyone!

I Am Expat Fair

Learn all about life in the Netherlands at the leading fair for expats on 10 November. The IamExpat Fair takes place twice a year at different locations and is designed to connect and support the expat community in the Netherlands. This edition takes place in one of The Hague’s oldest buildings - the iconic Grote Kerk! The fair offers information about a wide range of topics, such as housing, careers, education and leisure and there will be free workshops and presentations to attend. Entrance to the fair is free after online registration.


Visit Eindhoven, the city of light, during GLOW light art festival from 11-18 November. For one week, the city comes alive with eccentric light constructions, innovative works of art and numerous events which will all revolve around this year's theme: Shadows & Light! By nightfall, experience the unique displays via a walking route through the city’s streets, taking you past stunning designs boasting all colours and shapes.

Sint Maarten

Celebrate the Dutch version of Halloween on Sint Maarten’s day, 11 November, often called the feast of sharing. Children excitedly knock on neighbourhood doors with lanterns and sing songs to receive a candy or fruit in return. The songs often contain nonsense words or vague puzzling references to the origins of the feast day. Sint Maarten’s day is celebrated in parts of the North and South of the Netherlands, as well the provinces of Flevoland, Overijssel, Gelderland, South-Holland and Zeeland. If you are living in one of these areas it is advisable to buy treats and lantern sticks (in case your children want to participate) in advance as these sell out fast!

Arrival Saint Nicholas

The Sinterklaas feast is a beloved Dutch holiday and tradition. Although the actual celebration of the feast is on the evening of 5 December, all children are excitedly awaiting his arrival each year in mid-November. Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) will officially arrive by boat on 17 November in the city of Zaandijk together with his Pieten (helpers). He then makes his way through the country on his white horse Amerigo. In most other towns and cities, unofficial arrivals will be organised as well. 

The story depicts in the days leading up to 5 December, Sinterklaas rides across rooftops at night listening through chimneys for good children and leaves them little treats in their shoes, which are left by the fireplace or door. Traditional Sinterklaas sweets are chocolate letters, pepernoten (small spiced biscuits), gingerbread men and marzipan.

Categories: Team Talk


Supporting Expats and their mental health

Advice for employers and their employees

Moving overseas for work provides an exciting career move and certainly provides an adventure in a new city. Despite this, expats can feel overwhelmed when having to quickly adjust to cultures, languages and new work responsibilities, heightened by the physical absence of family/ friends.

It is therefore important that both the employee and employer take responsibility for mental health. See tips below for employees and employers.

1. Making the right decision

Expatriate life isn’t for everyone so make sure to weigh up all options to ensure it is the right decision.


  • • Speak to other expats
  • • Be honest about any anxieties you have and speak to HR for advice


  • • Screen employees for their suitability for an overseas assignment 
  • • Introduce employees to other expats within the company
  • • Make sure the employee has all his/her questions answered

2. Preparing for the move

A 2016 survey of 5,000 people (Aetna) revealed that only 6% of expats worried about mental health before relocating. This can seriously under prepare employees for any upcoming challenges.


  • • Understand your risks and how to detect feelings of loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression.
  • • As independent as you may be, the physical absence of family and support networks can be hard, so make sure you can still access support whilst on assignment
  • • Culture-shock can be an unexpected and overwhelming experience. Before you go research traditions, activities, history, etiquette, politics and certainly learn the language. Being open-minded and respectful of your new culture will help you settle in quicker.
  • • Keep an open mind and be flexible when it comes to business culture. Learn what’s appropriate, speak to other expats, colleagues, HR and even LinkedIn contacts for advice.
  • • There is no better way to fit in than speaking the language. Take a course before you leave and keep this up by practicing as much with the locals as possible. 


  • • Shift corporate attitudes on mental health - take responsibility and tackle the stigma. Allow employees to feel supported as the better mental well-being of staff has a profound link to productivity and lowered absences.
  • • Offer cultural courses to help the employee prepare and be respectful in their new environment. This will help them adjust to their new surroundings quicker.
  • • Offer languages classes – this will be welcomed support and means they can interact with their co-workers, make friends much more readily, and integrate into the local culture quicker.
  • • Inform staff about managing their mental health and provide skills, such as preventative and coping behavioural techniques. This will improves knowledge and attitudes towards mental health and provide the knowledge for them to strive in their new environment.


3. Adjusting to life as an expat & accessing support


  • • There is more to your assignment success than being great at your job - be aware that your interpersonal skills become even more important when you aren't fluent in the local language or are unaware of certain cultural nuances.
  • • Communication is a huge party of sociability and so speaking the language will help you feel less of an outsider and able to better connect with people around you.
  • • Immerse yourself in the culture and make the most out of the experience and opportunities. Remember not to overdo it.
  • • Don’t rely on social networks as a form of communication – this does not replace personal interactions. Make the effort to stay in touch with people who care about you.


  • • Provide an environment where employees feel supported
  • • Ensure the company is able to tackle problems as they arise and provide support
  • • Offer employee assistance programmes and/or in-country support
  • E.g. telephone support, someone who understands their culture and speaks their language
  • • Offer full confidentiality / anonymous support – knowing their employer won't find out will help the employee ask for help, without fear of stigma and judgment in the workplace


Categories: Team Talk


Living the Dutch life - October

Be inspired this Autumn!

Relief of Leiden

Participate in the festivities of Leiden’s '3 October Festival' to commemorate the Spanish Siege and subsequent relief of the city in 1574. The entire city makes for one big party with a parade, fun fair, market, concerts and a grand firework show. set against the backdrop of Leiden’s beautiful 17th and 18th century buildings and canals, the festival celebrates many traditions. The morning of the event starts with a reveille, followed by an offering of herring and white bread, the traditional meal associated with the festival. After this, you can attend a memorial service in St Peter’s Church and enjoy another traditional meal of hutspot (carrot and onion stew) in the evening.

Children’s Book Week

Each year the Dutch Children’s Book Week celebrates and promotes reading for children up to 12 years old. This year, from 3-14 October, the town's libraries and primary schools organise fun activities and special lessons to follow the theme of the event, this year's being Friendship. As making friends is learnt when you're a child, the event wishes to address both the happy and exciting adventures within friendships, but help children understand the cruel nature of bullying and how it can be stopped.

Keukenhof Flower Bulb Market

To celebrate the start of the bulb-growing season, Keukenhof park opens for a very special Flower Bulb Market from 5-6 October. The market bustles with excited gardeners, ready to stock up and receive expert tips for growing the most successful crop. A large selection of exclusive and exquisite bulbs can be bought straight from the cultivator. If you love gardening, this one is definitely for you! Kindly note that you will only be able to pay cash at the event.

Museum Night

On 6 October, the 'Museum Nacht Den Hague' transforms museums and cultural institutions in the city centre, Scheveningen and Voorburg as they all open their doors to art-loving night owls. The theme ‘Ablaze’ will let you experience an exciting programme of activities, such as a passionate tango workshop and pepper vodka tasting. A ticket will give you access to all participating museums and institutions (with a one-time free entry until 31 December). A historical bus from The Hague’s Bus Museum will be used for shuttle services.

Dutch Design Week

Discover the work of young and talented designers of the future during Dutch Design Week, from 20-28 October in Eindhoven. The city is home to world famous Dutch Designers and is the biggest design event in Northern Europe, attracting more than 295,000 people from around the world! Exhibits, workshops and lectures are offered across many beautiful locations in the city, all celebrating the themes of experiment, innovation and cross-overs. Pay attention to the Dutch Design Awards to see who is crowned the top designers!


In the early hours of Sunday 28 October, the clocks will go back 1 hour for 'Winter Time', marking the end of 'Daylight Savings Time'. Sunrise and sunset will therefore be one hour earlier than the day before, meaning we can all enjoy an hour of sleep! Don't forget to change your clocks on the 27th before you go to bed.

Crossing Border Festival

One of Europe’s main international literature and music festivals will take place in The Hague’s cultural centre 29 Oct-4 Nov.
Crossing Border presents a unique combination of spoken word, music, film and visual arts. Besides the biggest names from the literature and music industry also undiscovered artists will be included in the programme. The focus of the festival is new developments in literature and music and their interconnection with other arts. 




Categories: Team Talk


Living the Dutch life - September

Immerse Yourself in Dutch Culture

World Port Days (Rotterdam)

From 7-9 September 2018 you'll be able to go behind the scenes of Europe's largest seaport! For lovers of all things maritime, as part of World Port Daysthis event offers a wide range of activities including harbour tours, demonstrations, spectacular stunts and a nautical market. Taking place in Rotterdam from 7-9 September 2018, this year's theme is Energize, of which you will be immersed in the energy of the port and all of it's new innovations. One of which is making the port a cleaner area.

Heritage Day

Enjoy exploring countless historical buildings and sites as they open their doors to the public. This special weekend, from 8-9 September 2018, is dedicated to celebrating Dutch heritage. In addition to having free access to monuments, there will also be a range of activities such as exhibitions, guided tours and music. The event is a celebration of Europe’s diverse cultural heritage and falls in-line with the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018. To find out what sites you can visit, see here.

Philharmonic Gergiev Festival (Rotterdam)

Enjoy this lively classical music event, celebrating the 30-year relationship between Valery Gergiev, a famous Russian conductor, and the city of Rotterdam. The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra also celebrates its 100th anniversary, so expect an all-round programme of performances across several stages, including international opera productions, major symphonic works and new Russian music. Taking place from 13-16 September 2018, this is not an event to miss! More info & tickets here.

Prince’s Day (The Hague)

An important event in Dutch politics, witness the King reading his speech from the throne on 18 September 2018. The speech, or troonrede in Dutch, mainly outlines the governmental budget for the year ahead. Prior to the speech, you can witness a royal procession and catch members of the Dutch Royal Family moving from the Noordeinde Palace to the Ridderzaal in a sublime glass carriage. Seen by many as the highlight of the day, expect a great atmosphere as thousands of people line the route. Besides being a political event, Prince’s Day offers many festivities!

Dutch Film Festival (Utrecht)

Taking place from 27 September - 5 October 2018, the Dutch Film Festival in Utrecht offers hundreds of screenings, along with premieres, talk shows, debates, workshops, parties and red-carpet events. As the largest event focusing solely on the Dutch film industry, it is an important platform for Dutch directors and actors, with the highlight being the announcement of the winner of the Golden Calf - the top prize in the Dutch film industry. Programmes are also made accessible for non-Dutch speakers. 

Kite Festival (The Hague)

See the skies of Scheveningen beach fill with colour as kites of all shapes and sizes are flown for the Kite Festival, 29-30 September. With over 100 international participants showing off their biggest and most impressive kites from around the world, it is a unique spectacle. This year's theme is Sea Aquarium and will feature flying fish, crab, snails and other sea creatures. Throughout the weekend there will be kiting demonstrations, stunts and workshops for you to enjoy. On Saturday evening, watch an impressive display of kites all lit up to decorate the sky.

Categories: Team Talk


Living the Dutch life - August

August's best open-air events

Floating Flower Parade (Westland)

Admire the Floating Flower Parade,  a colourful spectacle on the water from 3-5 August in the Westland region. Boats decorated with flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables will sail different routes, passing through cities like The Hague, Delft and Vlaardingen. The mission of the parade is to present and promote local produce of the Westland region, famous for its glasshouse horticulture.

Various activities will be organised along the route, such as markets and music performances. It is recommended to visit the boat parade by bike, since the event draws over 500,000 visitors and the Westland region is equally as beautiful for cycling!


Experience the largest inshore sailing event, the annual Sneekweek in the province of Friesland. This event, taking place from 4-9 August, attracts thousands of water sports lovers. The event kicks off with an opening ceremony, followed by a fleet show, traditional sailing competitions, fun fair, market and entertainment by local music bands.

Sailing Championships

The Skȗtsjesilen Sailing Championships, from 4-17 August, are also organised on the Frisian lakes. These spectacular competitions with historic flat bottom boats (skȗtsje sailboats) see the skippers fight for the honour and chance to gain the challenge trophy. It is a unique experience for both young and old and one of the top events for Dutch tourism.

International Fireworks Festival

Enjoy the exciting and famous International Fireworks Festival in Scheveningen from 10-11 August and 17-18 August. Each night, teams from around the world put on their most impressive displays from a pontoon at sea, whilst the audience enjoys the view from the boulevard and the beach of Scheveningen. In addition to being mesmerised by the light and colour of the sky, you can also enjoy music, jugglers and fire eaters on the boulevard. The festival is very popular and attracts up to 100,000 visitors, so it is best to plan ahead to avoid traffic.

Balloon Fiesta (Barneveld)

Visit the impressive hot air balloon festival in Barneveld from 22-25 August. The Fiesta is a unique experience, giving you the opportunity to view hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes prepare and take-off to the skies. The balloons will slowly drift towards the cities of Apeldoorn and Arnhem and then return to the festival ground for an evening of magical Nightglow. During this show the balloons will light up as lanterns and decorated with lasers which dance to the festival music, a breathtaking spectacle!

Music and more

10 – 19 August: Grachtenfestival Amsterdam

Classical music festival on the Amsterdam canals. The most unlikely spots will be transformed into stages for performances by young talents and established artists.

23 – 25 August: Jazz in de Gracht The Hague

Find yourself a spot along the canal to see the floating Jazz Festival pass by on characteristic flat bottom boats.

24 – 26 August: Uitmarkt Amsterdam

A richly varied programme offering the best arts and culture at different venues throughout the city. It is the largest cultural festival in the Netherlands and is free!

24 – 26 August: Jordaan Festival Amsterdam

Visit this typical Dutch event in the old folk district called the Jordaan. A must for those who like to sing along with traditional folk songs by Amsterdam’s famous artists.

25 – 26 August: OVG Veerhaven Concert Rotterdam

Discover Rotterdam’s maritime atmosphere at the Veerhaven while enjoying an open air concert by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Arrive by boat or take a seat by the docks and enjoy the last days of summer.



Categories: Team Talk

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