Destinations Magazine

Sinterklaas is Coming to Town

By Amsterdam City Tours

Sinterklaas is coming to town

It’s that time of year again – Saint Nicholas is coming to town! But in the Netherlands, it is not Christmas that he is here to celebrate but a special Dutch holiday called Sinterklaas.

Translated almost literally to St. Nicholas Day, it is a grand occasion for children and families that begins with the the arrival of Sinterklaas in Amsterdam on 13 November.

The revered winter holiday figure makes his debut in the capital first on boat, then he disembarks to leads a parade procession through the center of the city from the high perch of his signature white horse.

Joining Sinterklaas is a troop of his special helpers, all known as Zwarte Piet or Black Pete. Each year, nearly 500 Zwarte Pietes help Sint entertain children with songs and parade floats – all while dolling out candy treats to good little kids.

Sinterklaas is coming to town

Everyone young and old will be lined up to enjoy the festivities. Starting at 10.30, Sinterklaas’ boat will arrive at the Overamstel. He and his hundreds of helpers and festival makers will then trail toward the Maritime Museum.

Sint will travel through the city towards the Dam square and wrap up the parade in the Leidseplein, where the city mayor will officially greet him.

According to tradition, Sint’s arrival also begins the festive shopping season which will last until Saint Nicholas Day on 5 December. This is the day when Dutch families celebrate the holidays with seasonal gifts. In some homes, this day is much more special than Christmas.

As one of the largest holiday spectacles in the world, no Amsterdammer should miss the Sinterklaas parade. Grab your warmest clothes and practice your holiday jingles, and you’ll get handfuls of candies too!

Sinterklaas is coming to town

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