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How Is Halloween Celebrated In The Netherlands?

When there are barely any leaves left to cling to the trees and the late autumn rain is back for good, you can be pretty sure that Halloween is right around the corner. At least you can be if you spot the spooky decorations on display at HEMA - from pumpkin fairy lights to bloody candles. But how is the world’s spookiest holiday celebrated in the Netherlands?

The history of Halloween

A quick recap for the history buffs. Though its origin is unknown, many people claim that the roots of Halloween lie in the pre-Christian holiday of Samhain, celebrated around November 1st in medieval Britain and Ireland to mark the start of a new year. 

It was thought that, during this day, the souls of people who had passed away returned to the land of the living to visit their homes. To disguise themselves, the mortal inhabitants sometimes wore masks to avoid being recognized by malicious spirits.  

Later, in the eighth century, November 1st was named All Saints Day, an occasion to – as the name suggests – honor saints. After incorporating some aspects of Samhain, the evening before All Saints Day became known as All Hallows Eve and later Halloween. 

Pumpkin carving and trick or treating?

Halloween isn’t as big of a deal in the Netherlands as it is in countries like the US, Ireland, or Canada, and you might not be able to spot many jack-o’ lanterns in people’s ground-level living room windows (you may pretend like you don’t sneak a peek while walking by but we know you’re lying). 

Nevertheless, due to the number of internationals living in the country, Halloween is growing in popularity every year. People dress up in costumes and see it as a great occasion to enjoy themselves with others while slipping into an alternate persona – be it the Joker or that one blow-up dinosaur costume that the internet loves. 

That being said, trick or treating isn’t a big thing here, so don’t expect strangers to be thrilled if you ask them for candy. Then again, as an adult, you probably wouldn’t have expected your next-door neighbor to throw a Twix at you with delight anyhow. 

In our opinion, Halloween in the Netherlands is great for two demographics – children and students. Everyone loves a good costume party, and it’s a great way to keep those late autumn blues from settling in too early. So, slip into your costume, grab your besties, and check out one of the countless Halloween events that take place throughout the country every year. 

What are the best Halloween events to attend?

  1. Mr. Horror movie marathon in Utrecht - what better way to get into the spooky mindset than by watching horror movies all night; starts at 11:15 pm on October 28th 
  2. Amsterdam Halloween 2023 - Super Villains - if clubbing in costume is your thing, then Amsterdam’s Westerunie has just the party for you; from 22:00-5:00 on October 28th
  3. The Amsterdam Dungeon - Up for getting your wits scared out of you? Then head to the freaky destination at Dam Square; until the 31st of October 
  4. Leiseplein Pub Crawl – If trying many – probably too many – different kinds of beers is your idea of a great Halloween, nobody will stop you from doing just that during this pub crawl, where you will visit four bars and one club in one night
  5. Annabel Halloween edition – if you want to experience Rotterdam nightlife, there’s no better place to start than Annabel, and there’s no better occasion than Halloween; from 23:00-4:00 on October 28th
  6. Other Halloween events in your Dutch city – just search “Halloween events in ___” and you’re definitely gonna find something cool going on 

That was our guide to Halloween, answering the question: How is Halloween celebrated in the Netherlands? So, what are you waiting for? Grab whatever costume floats your boat and get into spooky mode.

And if you're already ready to go for the Netherlands' next big thing, read our blog post on Sinterklaas here

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