Utrecht may not be quite as large as Amsterdam or Rotterdam, but the city holds its own when it comes to entertainment. Expats moving to Utrecht will find that its packed calendar of annual events has something to interest everyone. From live music festivals to sporting events and cultural parades, Utrecht plays host to a diverse range of events.
Annual events in Utrecht
King’s Day (April)
King Willem-Alexander’s birthday is celebrated on 27 April and Utrecht goes all out in celebration. Watch as the town squares transform into dancefloors and everybody dresses in orange for the day. The festivities often begin the night before the king’s birthday with the traditional vrijmarkt (free market) jumble sale kicking off in the early evening. Here locals come together for 24 hours to sell secondhand goods and various homemade treats.
Liberation Day (May)
On the 5 May, the Netherlands celebrates the end of the German occupation during WWII. Utrecht, like all the other main cities, puts together a programme of festivities packed with musical performances and vibrant street fairs as well as events for children.
SPRING Performing Arts Festival Utrecht (May)
An international festival where audiences are treated to stunning theatre, dance and visual art performances. The main events take place at theatre venues around Utrecht and there are also plenty of spontaneous street performances.
Singelloop Utrecht (September/October)
Every September or October, runners from across the world head to Utrecht to take part in what is considered one of the world’s fastest 10km runs, the Singelloop Utrecht or Canal Run. It’s a scenic run through the streets of Utrecht and the city’s residents come out in force to support the runners. The atmosphere is electric whether an expat chooses to take part or spectate.
International Chamber Music Festival (December)
A gathering of the world’s best classical musicians who come together to perform traditional pieces as well newer works. The festival is extremely popular and tickets sell out fast so be sure not to miss out.
Saint Nicholas Festivities (December)
Expats in Utrecht should be sure to not miss the annual Saint Nicholas Festivities that take place in late November and early December. The celebrations begin with the arrival of Saint Nicholas and culminate with an evening of gift giving (pakjesavond). Don't forget to try the freshly baked ginger nuts and the traditional Dutch speculaas spiced biscuits.