Welcoming in the New Year, Dutch style

New Years is a big celebration here in the Netherlands, with traditions, new and old, that lead up to when the clock strikes midnight, and a bit past that.

Here are some top New Year prepping tips to help if this will be your first New Years in the North of the Netherlands.

1. Fireworks! And lots of them too!

The Dutch enjoy setting off lots of fireworks in a huge celebration across the country as they welcome in the New Year. Up and down your street your neighbours will be gathering outside to set off their own fireworks. But it’s not just at the stroke of midnight, in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve you will hear fireworks being set off at all times of the day (even though this is legally not allowed).

If you want to join in, you can legally purchase up to 25 kg of fireworks from a Dutch registered retailer. Fireworks can be purchased on the 28th, 29th and 31st December 2018. And legally you can set them off between 18:00 31st December 2018 and 2:00 1st January 2019. And keep in mind firework safety!

2. Top 2000

The Top 2000 is a countdown radio show on Radio 2. The public can vote for their favourite songs at the start of December, and the top 2000 will be played in reverse order during the last two weeks of December, with the top 50 being played on New Year’s Eve, with more than a million Dutch tuning in to listen.

Spoiler alert: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen is most likely to be number 1; it has been for the last couple of years.

3. Become a millionaire with a Staatsloterij ticket

The oudejaarstrekking is a special lottery draw by the Staatsloterij, where even those who don’t normally buy a ticket might just roll the dice in case! Last year’s jackpot was €30 million, plus lots of smaller prizes.

You can buy tickets from places displaying the Staatsloterij logo (often supermarkets, newsagents etc.). A single ticket costs €30, or a half lot costs €15 (and you win half the prize money). The winning ticket numbers are released midnight on the Staatsloterij website and TV channel Nederlands 1.

4. Oliebollen and Appelflappen

When November comes, you will see food trucks popping up selling these tasty desert snacks. An oliebol is a deep-fried dough ball, covered in icing sugar. They come plain or with raisins or sultanas (krenten) mixed into the dough. On New Year’s Eve, the Dutch will traditionally pick up a bag of 20 or more to eat during the evening, or they will make their own at home (we have a recipe to share next week if you want to try making them yourself).

And if oliebollen aren’t your thing, then you can eat appelflappen. An appelflap is a puff pastry triangle filled with cinnamon apple filling and either deep-fat fried or baked in the oven.

5. New Year’s Day dip

Join the tens of thousands of Dutch in attempting to shake off the New Year’s hangover with a chilly swim (Nieuwjaarsduik) in the Dutch Noordzee on New Year’s Day. No special clothing required (some people even do it naked!), just your usual swimming suit and perhaps a bright orange woolly hat from Unox.

If travelling up to the Noord-Zee is a bit far, check out the Unox website for a Nieuwjaarsduik in your area.