The Netherlands in May

May is a great month to visit the Netherlands, with the weather warming up and the school holidays approaching it is the perfect time to beat the crowds and see the sights this wonderful country has to offer. This list will run through the ultimate must -see and must-do in The Netherlands this May!


Liberation Day

Liberation Day on the 5 May is celebrated every year in the Netherlands and marks the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany during World War II. Many free open air festivals take place, bevrijdingsfestival, and the Dutch enjoy themselves whilst remembering to appreciate the freedom they now experience within their democratic society.

Utrecht Liberation


Keukenhof, Lisse

April and May are the best times to visit the Netherlands to see the tulips in full bloom making the world famous Keukenhof Tulip and Flower Park a must see! Between 20th March and 17th May, the theme for the park is Van Gogh, marking the 125th anniversary of his death. The park is just under 45 minutes’ drive from central Amsterdam making it the perfect day trip or even afternoon excursion! To get a real feel for the garden, cycling through the local area, taking in the wonderful flowering fields, is a great way to see the tulips in full bloom.



The Alkmaar cheesemarket is an absolute must for all cheese lovers visiting the Netherlands. Tourists visit from all over the world to experience the spectacle of people buying, weighing and trading at Alkmaar due to its historic significance with the market taking place thee since 1622.

Furthemore, any self-confessed foodies who are in Amsterdam between 13 and 17 of May, be sure to check out the Rollende Keukens, or rolling kitchens, food festival where countless mobile kitchens offer their cuisine to the masses at the Westergasfabriek in Westerpark.

Rollende Keukens

Java Eiland, Amsterdam

If live music is your thing then don’t miss out on The Pacha Festival, a huge dance music festival event at Java Eiland in Amsterdam on Saturday 16 May. With huge headliners and great entertainment already announced, the festival is sure to not disappoint.

Pacha 2015

The Opera Days Rotterdam

Holidaymakers can enjoy 10 days of opera performances at The Opera Days Rotterdam. The 10 day long festival consists of opera performances, interviews and presentations throughout the city in theatres and at locations throughout the city. Previous locations have included market squares, churches and shops, as well as living room concerts. The Opera Days attracts over 20,000 visitors a year making it one of the largest opera festivals in the world.



Pure Market was founded in Amsterdam in 2008 and has been a great success since! This regular market runs consistently with high quality produce, music, food stalls and other activities proving fun for all the family. This month it is running in Amstel Park on 10 May 2015 and in Park Frankendael on 31 May 2015.

Pure Market


Stena Line offers twice-daily, seven hour return crossings between Harwich and the Hook of Holland. Return fares for a family of four start from £176.

Additional adults cost start from £29 return and children (between four and 15 years old) from £14.50 return. Foot passenger prices start from £36.50 per adult and £18.25 for children. Infants (under four years old) travel free of charge. Cabins start from £30 per person return. Alternatively Stena Line’s Dutchflyer rail-and-sail service allows customers to take any Greater Anglia service to Harwich, and then on to any Dutch city of their choice (  To make a booking visit or call Stena Line on 08447 70 70 70

Categories: Amsterdam, Events, Family travel, Food and drink, Rotterdam, Shopping, Summer Holidays | Leave a comment

Celebrate King’s Day in Holland with Stena Line

A national holiday in the Netherlands, Koningsdag, or King’s Day, celebrates the birth of King Willem-Alexander on 27 April. First celebrated in 1885, and from 1890 until 2013 it was known as Queen’s Day, however when Queen Beatrix abdicated in 2013 the holiday was shifted three days ahead to celebrate the birth of her son, King Willem Alexander.

As one of the biggest and most widely celebrated holidays in the Netherlands, the Dutch really embrace oranjegekte, orange madness, with orange being worn in honour of the House of Orange-Nassau. Whether that means dressing in orange, having your face painted or dying your hair, you will be sure to see a lot of orange. All the excitement makes it a great time to visit the Netherlands and join in with the festivities. Amsterdam in particular goes crazy for King’s Day so what better time to visit the capital than the end of this month, just in time for the celebration!

King’s Day is an extremely family friendly occasion where a whole host of children’s activities take place. From face painting, to sports competitions to games there is something for every member of the family.

King's Day children

One of the biggest, most essential features of King’s Day is the giant flea market; the Citywide street sale.

If shopping isn’t your thing, don’t worry as there are a plethora of tasty food stalls serving scrumptious Dutch cuisine to more than satisfy any appetite. The market runs from 6 am until 8 pm giving you plenty of time to find some bargains and souvenirs!

King's Day

The canals of Amsterdam are one of the key features that characterise the city, and on King’s Day they really come alive. Whether you opt to take a canal ride or not, it’s just as fun to watch from a nearby bridge and watch the blur of orange pass down the canal.

Parties that take place on King’s Day are legendary and occur all day long and run well into the early hours of the following day. Museumplein Square hosts a huge open-air concert that attracts hundreds of thousands of people. The Amsterdammers certainly know how to party,  and a great time is definitely guaranteed!

King's Day

Stena Line offers twice-daily, seven hour return crossings between Harwich and the Hook of Holland. Fares start from £59 one way for an adult and Additional adults cost start from £14.50 and children (between four and 15 years old) from £7.25 one way. Foot passenger prices start from £36.50 per adult and £18.25 for children. Infants (under four years old) travel free of charge. Cabins start from £15 per person each way. Alternatively Stena Line’s Dutchflyer rail-and-sail service allows customers to take any Greater Anglia service to Harwich, and then on to any Dutch city of their choice (

 To make a booking visit or call Stena Line on 08447 70 70 70


Categories: Amsterdam, Events, Family travel, Ferry good ideas, Ferry vs Flying, Food and drink, Green travel, Have you seen this?, Shopping | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Christmas in Holland

If you want to do something different this Christmas, take Stena Line’s ferry to Holland to explore both the famous and lesser known Dutch Christmas Markets – with no luggage restrictions, you can take back as many presents as you like!


Winterland Maastricht 

Winterland Maastricht has a lively festive atmosphere. For six weeks, the Vrijthof in Maastricht will change into a festive square, with a Christmas Market, an ice-rink, a Ferris wheel, a carousel and a variety of other seasonal attractions.

Browse over 50 stalls for seasonal food and drink, such as oliebollen, poffertjes and Gluhwein. So whether you’re looking for exciting Christmas gift ideas or traditional Dutch Christmas fare, Winterland Maastricht is sure to grant you your Christmas wishes.
Christmas Market Fluweelengrot in Valkenburg

The international Christmas Market Fluweelengrot (Velvet Cave) in Valkenburg is the most anticipated annual Christmas event in Holland. Constructed around a distinctly fairy-tale like theme, “Christmas around the world”, it presents Christmas scenes from various spots around the globe.

The caves where the Christmas Market Fluweelengrot is set lend the event a wonderful atmosphere, harking back to ancient legends of Valkenburg’s legendary history. A walking tour through the market will lead visitors to an illuminated Christmas Cave, in which they’ll find an impressive 18th century chapel.

Dordrecht Christmas market

Dordrecht is only a 45 minute drive from the Hook of Holland and with over 300 stalls, it has Holland’s largest Christmas market. The entire historic city centre is decorated and the gardens of the Grote Kerk (Large Church) are transformed with Christmas trees and a manger.  There are also musical acts to entertain the crowds as well a traditional nativity scene

Head to Holland with Stena Line from £79 one way, and no restrictions on Christmas shopping…

Categories: Shopping | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amsterdam shopping guide

This week we have invited Ashley Howe from Amsterdam Blog to contribute some of her local knowledge.

“If you’re on your way to Amsterdam to shop until you drop but don’t where to start, then this shopping guide will help you find your way around, whatever your budget.

De 9 Straatjes (The 9 Streets) is one of my favourite shopping areas in Amsterdam. Full of boutique shops, you can also find a lot of vintage clothes shops here. Situated in the Jordaan area of Amsterdam, near the Westerkerk, there are also plenty of places that you can grab a bite to eat. My favourite shops include LOMO, a store dedicated to Lomography, Pompadour for delicious chocolate, Spiegelbeeld for their designer vintage clothing and Episode for second hand clothes.

How to get there: It is a short walk from the Westerkerk. Trams 13, 14 and 17 all stop at Westermarkt.

De Bijenkorf is a huge department store, selling hundreds of different items from women’s clothing through to books and electronics. It is more expensive than the high street stores, but you can find some really nice things in here. On the top floor there is a cafe which sells great food at a reasonable price.
How to get there: The Bijenkorf is on Dam Square near the monument.

If it’s high street names that you are looking for then head to the Kalverstraat. With shops like River Island, Zara and Marks and Spencer there is bound to be something here that you will like. My favourites include Cheese & More where you can try before you buy, Lush for it’s delicious cosmetics, and the Store for Brands, which is a pop-up concept and every few weeks (depending on who is in the pop-up) the shop changes to something different.
How to get there: The Kalverstraat is just off from Dam Square and is really easy to find

Haarlemmerdijk and Haarlemmerstraat were voted the best shopping streets in 2011, and 2012 and you can see why. Firstly there are some really pretty buildings on both of these streets. Secondly there are a lot of independent retailers and speciality stores, from fashion to delcatessens, these two streets have it all. Some of my favourites on the Haarlemmerdijk include Store Without a Home , an independent design boutique and Papa Bubble – the BEST place for buying sweets (and you can watch how they make them at the back of the shop). My favourites on the Haarlemmerstraat are Het Grote Avontuur, which sells a mixture of vintage, new and hand-made items and is great for gift-hunting, and Stout, a small cafe restarant with a cosy atmosphere.
How to get there: It is a short walk away from Central station. The Haarlemmerstraat leads onto the Haarlemmerdijk.

P.C Hoofdstraat and Van Baerlestraat are the places for high-end designer shops including Tiffany & Co, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Gucci and Chanel. If you’ve got some money burning a hole in your pocket, this is the perfect place to spend it. The P.C Hoofdstraat is one of the most exclusive shopping streets in the Netherlands, and combined with the Van Baerlestraat, it is certainly a place to be seen flashing your cash.
How to get there: Trams 3 and 12 stop off at Van Baerlestraat. The P.C Hoofdstraat is just a short walk away.


Utrechtsestraat is another street that is full of boutiques and independent shops, which starts at Rembrandtplein and ends at Frederiksplein. Don’t miss Pata Negra for their delicious tapas.
How to get there: Get the tram to Rembrandtplein and it’s just a short walk away.”

Ashley can be found blogging about Amsterdam at, or you can follow her on Twitter at @amsterdam_blog

If you’re heading to Amsterdam, why not head with Stena Line? Taking your car or our Dutchflyer service means you can shop ‘til you drop without worrying about luggage allowance!


Categories: Amsterdam, Budget travel, Ferry good ideas, Fun facts, Shopping | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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