Ten great things to do in May

Celebrate freedom, Dick Bruna and beer: 10 great things to do in May From celebrating freedom to celebrating beer - here's our round-up of some of the best things to do in the Netherlands this May. Celebrate freedom and harmony Liberation Day – May 5 – sees Bevrijdingsfestivals taking place across the country. National and international bands will be performing on stages from Amsterdam to Zwolle, under the banner ‘Geef vrijheid door’ ('Pass freedom on’). The festivals are free and there's a dedicated website where you can find out what’s happening near you. Check out the other side of Dick Bruna Dick Bruna, who died in February this year, was much more than the creator of Nijntje (aka Miffy). The famous rabbit has deliberately been left out of 2000x Dick Bruna, an exhibition of his other works, including his book covers for Dutch thriller series Havank. Until May 11, at the Atrium in The Hague. Website Give Scorsese the Eye The first major Martin Scorsese retrospective, which has been touring New York, Berlin, Melbourne and...  More >

Dutch king Willem-Alexander turns 50

12 key facts about Dutch king Willem-Alexander, as he turns 50 King Willem-Alexander turns the ripe old age of 50 on April 27. To mark the occasion,  here are some random facts about the Dutch king. 1 Willem-Alexander was a 'completely normal Dutch boy', according to his primary school teacher. But unlike other completely normal Dutch boys he had to submit to much attention from the press. ‘Alle Nederlandse pers opgerot’ (all Dutch press buzz off), the nine year-old Willem-Alexander famously piped up at a gathering of journalists. The royals’ relationship with the press was always a little tetchy, which is why some suggested that Willem-Alexander’s little outburst may have been copied from things his parents might have said at home. 2 Willem-Alexander is crazy about sport, especially ones in which the Dutch excel, such as football and speed skating. That side of his character is nowhere better admired than on the stands of stadiums where the king, decked out in orange in spite of his unfortunate colouring, jumps up and down just...  More >

What the papers say about insulting women

What the Dutch papers say about insulting women, Jewish traditions and young Turks Introducing a new DutchNews.nl regular, a round-up of some of the week's best or most provocative columns. This week we tackle insulting women as entertainment for boys, the way politicians harp on about the Netherlands Jewish-Christian tradition and why young Dutch Turks voted to give president Erdogan more powers. Insulting women Micro biologist and NRC columnist Rosanne Herzberger takes on Telegraaf Media’s website Dumpert.nl which features a show called DumpertReeten (Dumpert arses) in which ‘a couple of men children are slouched on the sofa watching infantile videos. They express their appreciation via a special rating. If it’s a bad video, one woman wearing a string and bra turns around to show her backside. If the video is good four or five women do the same.’ Referencing Fox News’ Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, both fired for sexual harassment, Herzberger suggests that women hit back with a well-aimed kick, not quite in the balls of TMG but fairly close: the...  More >

Podcast: The Happy Orange Bunnies Edition

Dutch News podcast – The Happy Orange Bunnies Edition – Week 16 In this week's podcast, we hear about a Brexit summit in The Hague, Ajax's dramatic ten-man victory in the Europa League and why Dutch teenagers are much happier than their pet bunnies. We also give you all the information you need to join in the fun, drinking and cleaning up on King's Day. Top story Groningen gas criminal inquiry News Netherlands hosts Brexit mini-summit Dutch teenagers among happiest in the world PVV moves to ban dual nationality Ajax reach Europa League semi-final Unhappy bunnies need company Discussion King's Day traditions and festivities  More >

The richest men in the Netherlands

The richest men in the Netherlands – Charlene Heineken does not count While it may be harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, the ranks of the rich in the Netherlands are swelling. Reflecting this, business magazine Quote doubled the length of its annual rich list in 2016 as part of its 20th birthday celebrations. The Quote list is complicated by several factors: many rich Dutch live elsewhere for tax reasons (or perhaps an unsated lust for skiing) – and then there is family wealth as opposed to individual riches. The best illustration of this is Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken, the only child of the late beer magnate Freddy Heineken. Charlene lives in London, is resident in Switzerland and has five children. Both she and her husband hold supervisory board posts with the brewing group. Charlene's 25% controlling share in Heineken is worth €11bn on the Quote list, an increase of 14% over the previous year. She is by far the richest Dutch person. The Heineken heiress...  More >

'Dutch people are really traditional'

‘I’m surprised by how traditional Dutch people really are’ Originally from Israel, Inbal Tur-Shalom moved to Amsterdam after falling head over heels in love with a Dutchman during a road trip through New Zealand. She now owns a photography studio, leads tours around the city and enjoys live music in the Jordaan. How did you end up in the Netherlands After working as a customer care manager for a big IT company in Israel, I felt life had more to offer. So, at the age of 36, I resigned, packed a backpack and went travelling through Cuba, the Dominican Republic, South America and the United States. After a year, I came back to Israel but felt that I hadn’t had enough of travelling so I decided to go to New Zealand. I rented a car there and drove all the way from the top of the north island to the bottom of the south island. After two months, I met a Dutch guy who had been living in NZ for two years. It was crazy love at first sight, he asked me to stay with him and I did. About a year later, life, circumstances and the recession made us decide to...  More >

Working together is key to being Dutch

Working together is a key part of the Dutch psyche Working together to reach consensus is one of the essences of being Dutch. No wonder then that even at school children learn all about making deals with their peers, writes DutchNews.nl editor Robin Pascoe The Netherlands is now in the middle of a long and complicated process to create a new coalition government. The Dutch political system invariably creates coalitions and the process can take months and months. Manifesto points are ditched, compromises reached, trade-offs agreed and finally the parties that have managed to find enough common ground publish their long-awaited coalition agreement – their blue-print for the country for the next four years. Consensus Those who romanticise the Dutch tradition of consensus like to see its origins in the Dutch fight against the sea – when everyone had to work together to ensure the dykes were high and the waves kept at bay. This may well be the case. But consensus is not just confined to the corridors of power in The Hague. Consensus...  More >

'Not good enough' porcelain goes on show

Queen Maxima opens show of porcelain not good enough for the emperor   Artefacts once considered not good enough for the gaze of the Chinese emperor have now finally been viewed by Dutch royalty. Moira Holden finds out more about a collection of porcelain which was never meant to be seen. Queen Maxima opened Forbidden Porcelain: Exclusively for the Emperor, a painstaking restoration of broken china from the Far East, now on display at the Prinsenhof Museum. The porcelain was originally made and destroyed without being used by the emperor because it was considered not perfect enough for the ruler’s eyes. The emperors of China’s Ming dynasty demanded absolute precision when it came to porcelain. If there was merely a hint of imperfection in the china, it was deemed unsuitable to be presented to the imperial court and was broken up and buried. This 'waste' has now seen the light of day after lying hidden for many centuries in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen, the centre of the imperial pottery workshops. Fast forward hundreds of years...  More >

Podcast: The Pandamonium Edition

Dutch News podcast – The Pandamonium Edition – Week 15 This week we find out why the country suffered a collective bout of panda fever, what's happening in the coalition talks and why it's the end of the road for Amsterdam's infamous beer bikes. In the discussion we explain a bit about our podcast and ask for your feedback so we can make it even better. Top story Pandas touch down at Schiphol News Coalition talks suspended for Jesse Klaver's family illness Dutch Turks held in Turkey At least 20 Dutch Turks stuck in Turkey have appealed for consular help Sylvana Simons court case Beer bikes no more Sport Max Verstappen at the Chinese Grand Prix Discussion: all about your DutchNews podcast hosts Find us on Twitter: Paul Peeters Gordon Darroch Molly Quell  More >

Can Dutch firms ban headscarves?

Can Dutch firms ban their staff from wearing headscarves? Does a recent European Court ruling mean Dutch companies can ban their employees from wearing headscarves? The answer is, to put it simply, both yes and no. Bans on wearing 'any political, philosophical or religious sign' are not discriminatory, the European Court of Justice said in its ruling last month. However, employers can only implement them as part of broader rules regarding employee appearance. The Court ruled on the case of Samira Achbita, a receptionist employed by G4S Security Company in Belgium, who began wearing a headscarf to work for religious reasons. She was subsequently fired after refusing to remove the headscarf after the company implemented a dress code which included a ban on wearing religious symbols in the work place. Achbita challenged her dismissal in a Belgian court. The Belgian court then referred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The ECJ was asked whether banning a headscarf in the broader context of banning religious and political symbols...  More >

Reforming Amsterdam's red light district

From sex to smoothies: reforming Amsterdam’s red light district The city of sleaze is cleaning itself up. Fed up with brothels, low-rent snack bars and sex shops, Amsterdam city council is busy trying to gentrify the red light district. But not everyone is happy, particularly police and the sex workers themselves, as Graham Dockery finds out. Is the city losing a central aspect of its identity? Or is this a long overdue clean up? Either way, the effects are already visible. Tourists walking through the district a couple of years ago would have seen far more red lights for a start. There are now just under 300 window brothels in the district, down from 486 in 2006. In alleys where working girls used to ply their trade, indie art galleries and barber shops now occupy the windows. The strip clubs and peep shows still operate, but they share the street with upscale boutiques and thrift stores. Diversity ‘I want some more diversity in this area,’ said Annabelle van Dijk. Annabelle works in Koko Coffee and Design, an achingly hip establishment...  More >

Participation declaration 'bombastic'

‘Participation declaration is bombastic cocktail of norms, values and culture’ Why bother with a tutti frutti of norms, values and culture for newcomers if you have a perfectly serviceable constitution to fall back on? asks Bas de Gaay Fortman, a former GroenLinks MP turned Utrecht University professor. ‘Welcome to the Netherlands!’ Such is the ringing participation declaration’s greeting to the ‘newcomer’ – who is likely to have been living there for a while. What follows is a kind of citizens’ declaration of faith in which values, norms and culture are mixed like a cocktail. That a large majority of MPs ‘(VVD, PvdA, PVV, CDA, SGP, 50plus and a few splinter parties) passed this text is mind boggling. The bill brings in a new element to the integration process. ‘The core values of Dutch society’ are not to be shrugged off, the explanatory memorandum warns. That is why all those who are required by law to follow an integration programme must ‘express’ their allegiance to the Netherlands. Because ‘We’ (is this a royal ‘We’?)...  More >

Podcast: The Keep Calm Draw Hitler Edition

Dutch News podcast – The Keep Calm and Draw Hitler Edition – Week 14 This week catch up on why politicians have been stepping out hand in hand, the surprise inclusion in a children's colouring book, how a dog went missing from police custody, and what happened when police tried to carry out a drugs bust in the middle of a football match. We also help Molly come to terms with the national trauma that is the Dutch inburgeringsexamen. Top story 'Alle mannen hand in hand' protest against homophobic violence News Coalition talks rumble on Kruidvat withdraws colouring book Most and least stressful jobs Dog gone missing in custody (NOS, in Dutch) Sport Feyenoord win, PSV draw in bizarre circumstances Discussion How to take the integration exam More than 500 people fined for not passing integration tests in three years  More >

Nine ways to get your tulip fix in spring

Flower power: Nine ways to get your tulip fix this spring While tulip bulbs may no longer be hard currency here, tulip mania continues to infect the Netherlands from late March to late April when the fields are in flower. Deborah Nicholls-Lee suggests nine ways to get your tulip fix this spring. Visit the bulb fields The greatest expanse of tulip cultivation in the country can be seen in the Noordoostpolder in Flevoland, which boasts a tulip route of 106 km. Spot the tulip mosaics proudly displayed by the villages as you pass through and visit the mammoth Mondrian painting, made from almost four hectares of flowers. The tulip festival runs from April 22 to May 7. For the single largest bulb field in the Netherlands, head up to the Kop van Noord-Holland. Visit Anna Paulowna during the Bloemendagen celebrations (April 29 - May 3) and see the whole village bedecked in flowers. Just up the road, the Bloeiend Zijpe, in ‘t Zand launches on April 7 a varied schedule of tulip-based activities, including photography and painting workshops,...  More >

The Holland Festival celebrates democracy

Holland Festival celebrates 70th year in June with ‘democracy’ theme The Holland Festival is back in June and this year it is celebrating its milestone 70th birthday. Julia Corbett spoke to the event's artistic director Ruth Mackenzie who is bowing out after five years at the helm. The programme of this year's Holland Festival includes 17 world premiers, a befitting celebration for the longest-running performing arts event in the country. Since being launched in 1947, the Holland Festival has increased in size and popularity, becoming known around the world for bringing opera, modern dance, poetry and music to Amsterdam. The festival’s notoriety for tackling controversial issues is also set to be reinforced with the theme of ‘Democracy’ taking centre stage. From London’s National Theatre’s new play about Brexit, to Richard Nelson’s trilogy The Gabriels which climax on Election Night in the USA last year, the public can get involved in debates surrounding what democracy means in the modern world. Artistic director and British national...  More >

'Even if the weather’s bad a boat is good'

‘Even if the weather’s bad, a boat trip is still good’ Guy Livingston (49) is an American concert pianist and radio broadcaster. When he’s not touring internationally he lives in The Hague where he hosts “American Highways”, a weekly radio programme that aims to surprise listeners with the diversity of American music, from jazz to modern classical. How did you end up in the Netherlands? Well, I won a Dutch piano competition in 1995 and met a lot of people here. It just seemed like a great place to come and do music in, so I returned to do my master’s degree. When I graduated I went to live in Paris until recently and came back here for love, as my wife is half Dutch! How do you describe yourself - an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc? Oh I hate this question! Any foreigner living in Holland has days when they just feel like a total outsider and others when they feel very integrated. That’s what’s interesting about Holland, that the Dutch are pretty welcoming. I guess I’d have to say international, as...  More >

Airbnb is harming Amsterdam's communities

Holiday rental giant Airbnb is harming Amsterdam’s communities Airbnb is becoming greedy. It needs to invest in Amsterdam for the long-term benefit of its communities, not just for short term financial gain, says Leiden University's David Zetland. Airbnb is a popular service for connecting tourists who want a cheaper place to stay in a city with ‘hosts’ willing to give them a room or a flat to stay in. Oh, did I say ‘give’? Sorry, I meant ‘rent.’ Like Facebook with its claims of helping you communicate with ‘friends,’ Airbnb uses ‘share’ in a way that replaces a child's use of that word with an alt-truth definition that means ‘rent.’ That distortion of reality is not a bug but a feature: Airbnb co-founder (and billionaire) Nathan Blecharczyk made his first millions spamming people's inboxes while claiming ‘there were frankly no rules around it’ in 2002. I don't know about you, but I knew that spam was a plague well before 2002, and I'm going to spend the rest of this post talking about how Airbnb's founders...  More >

12 great things to do in April

From big wheels to big hats: 12 great things to do in April So much to do, so little time... Hanneke Sanou has a list of some of the best things to do in April. View Rotterdam from a giant ferris wheel Europe's largest mobile ferris wheel is in Rotterdam until April 9, so you've still got a few days to appreciate the view. The ferris wheel is 55 metres high with 42 gondolas and can take 800 people an hour. Tickets cost €6 for an adult and €4 for children. Website See museum highlights All that glitters in this year’s Museum Week (April 3 to April 9) is gold, well, not literally. The week highlights the finest objects from over 400 museums around the country and will be encouraging visitors to seek them out with a display of life size gilded representations of three celebrated objects in different cities around the Netherlands.  Check out the website for the treasures chosen by each museum. Savour delicious still lifes At the Mauritshuis until June 25 Slow food - The Still Lifes of the Golden Age. A smorgasboard of 22 masterpieces...  More >

Podcast: The Tunnelly McTunnelface Edition

Dutch News podcast – The Tunnelly McTunnelface Edition – Week 13 In this week's podcast we learn why a traffic jam was headline news for three days, go out on a limb with an unusual sheep and discuss what Brexit really means for people on both sides of the North Sea. Top story Coalition talks continue News Geert Wilders's visit to Ghent International student numbers double in 10 years Junior finance minister under pressure on tax deals Pizza delivery driver caught up in house raid Five-legged sheep born in Zeeland News Sport Give us a role in finding a new coach, says Oranje captain Arjen Robben Discussion: Brexit and the Netherlands Hundreds of Dutch firms vulnerable to Brexit, some will fail   What the EU27 wants from Brexit (Politico) Trade Effects of Brexit for the Netherlands (Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis) (pdf) Parliamentary report on the Netherlands and Brexit (pdf)  More >

The best Dutch game cafes and shops

Game for a laugh? The best Dutch game cafes and shops Board and card games have made a big comeback in recent years largely due to the increasing complexity and maturity of newer titles. Indeed, they’ve become so popular that there are shops and cafes devoted to them. Brandon Hartley picks some of the best. Whether you love battling goofy monsters in Munchkin, losing your faith in humanity while playing Cards Against Humanity or having it restored while curing diseases in Pandemic, there’s plenty of places in the country where you can get your game on. Here’s just a few of them. Friends & Foes - Amsterdam At this game shop and cafe you can get a good cup of joe and a slice of pie while you try to figure out which one of your colleagues is a blood-crazed monster in Ultimate Werewolf. They purchase their beans from Spot On Coffee Roasters, also located in Amsterdam’s De Pijp district, and take gaming as seriously as they do their lattes. While Friends & Foes stocks plenty of titles and has a cabinet packed full...  More >