Magical castles in South Holland

Tall, direct and often - extremely- extravert. The Dutch are not known for being refined, courteous or even humble. Dutch style is sober. In every day life you'll hardly ever find the ground covered with a red carpet in front of you . Fortunately we have a great Dutch tradition on Pentecost. On this bank holiday you can live your fairytale. See what it's like to live like a king. Several estates and a few magical castles in South Holland and in other Dutch regions open their doors to the public. A day to dive in a world of glamour and exciting history.

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Spring event Netherlands intercultural bike tour Verita's Visit

Visit Japanese Garden Hague & Leiden Japan Market

Updated

The Japanese garden The Hague is only open 6 weeks in spring and 2 weeks in autumn. In 2020 spring opening is from May 1 till 14 June from 9:00 AM till 8:00 PM. Autumn opening will be from 10 till 25 October.  Every time I visit the garden, I'm just overwhelmed by all the colors! There is one particular day in spring which I book in my agenda and that's the day of the Japanese market in Leiden. A full Japan day in in the Netherlands!

Visit Japan in The Hague & Leiden

Last year I started my Japanese day trip in the Netherlands with a bike ride through Clingedael and a first stop at the Japanese garden The Hague, from there I cycled part of the The Hague estates route and then from Wassenaar to Leiden. In Leiden centre I parked my bike close to Rapenburg and visited the Japanese market. In 2021  I have planned a bike tour  to the Japanese Garden The Hague, a couple of stops in the nature in The Hague/ Leiden area & a visit Japan Market Leiden. Contact me to find out more.

Bridge Japanese Garden The Hague-veritasvisit

Japanese Garden in The Hague Park

The Japanese garden is the most famous of the gardens in Clingendael. It attracts over 10.000 visitors a year. One of the reasons why it is such an attraction is definitely the multitud of colours. The colours of the Japanese maples, azaleas are splendid in spring as well as in autumn.  And then there is the red bridge, one of the most picturesque and most photographed objects in the garden.

Colours as well as objects have a special meaning in this garden. Shinto is an ideology, religion and way of life which is strongly rooted in Japanese society. The design, the ornaments, the colours used in the Japanese garden The Hague  all have a symbolic meaning.

Do you feel joy and peace at the moment you see the red bridge? That is just the intention of the designer of the garden. According to Shinto the colour red is used to chase away all the bad spirits. Seeing the colour makes you feel happy.

Flag Japan market Sieboldhuis Leiden-veritasvisit

Japan Market Leiden

If you pay attention, you will also see a lot of red on the Japan market in Leiden. This year the celebration of  Japanese culture, food, music and arts takes place on Sunday, 23 May 2021.

It will be a fantastic way to try out the Japanese martial arts, feel the beautiful kimonos, taste the sushi and the sake, see the manga fans, hear traditional Japanese music & enjoy the different stalls full of typical Japanese products. The market is a beautiful way of crossing cultural bridges and showing the century old ties between Leiden and Japan. It will make you happy, no matter what color you see ;)


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Cycling tour Haarlem Keukenhof verita's visit fietstocht

Amsterdam Keukenhof Alternative Day Program

You planned a spring holiday in the Netherlands. Everything packed: sunglasses, travel guide, tank tops. You made a little plan: visit Keukenhof, see a bit of Amsterdam, maybe an authentic Dutch village, something like Volendam or no, make it Zaanse Schans.  Great! You're good to go. Then your plane touches ground in Amsterdam Airport, you get out and....uff, it's terribly cold!  And...it's raining!  Well, here's an alternative day program that will still get you to Keukenhof.

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7 favourite spring events in the Netherlands Verita's Visit King's Day

My 7 favourite spring events in the Netherlands

A fresh start of spring in Holland. Outside it's still rather cold and...where's the sun?  When it comes to the temperature spring really has to warm up, but nature is ready for it. Just take a look outside and see the new born lambs curiously looking at the young tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. The start of the season brings excitement, some people even get a bit stressed when they see spring has come. Here are my 7 favourite spring events in the Netherlands

 

Tip 1: Easter on the Beach

Easter is one of these spring events in the Netherlands I wouldn't want to miss out on. There are lots of activities being organised. When I'm not on a bike showing you and your friends how amazing the Dutch countryside is, I enjoy my Easter brunch on the beach. The real tourist season starts in the Easter weekend. Weeks before Easter the beach is inspected and levelled. The beach boulevards are full of trucks offloading material. Right after the beach is prepared, the beach restaurant owners can set up their restaurants. In the Netherlands cafes and restaurants can only be found on the beach between March and October. This means that every year before Easter the owners have to set up their beach restaurants again. Just to be able to welcome me & you for an Easter brunch. Isn't that great?

witte bloesem -veritasvisit
Beautiful blossom of fruit trees in spring


Tip 2: Blossoming Fruit Trees, Asparagus and Bike Races

Another part of the food sector depends on good weather. Every year the fruit and vegetable farmers anxiously wait for the results of the season. Apple-, cherry-, peartrees are not only useful for their fruits, but also for their blossom. Walking trails take you through picturesque fields full of fresh, scented flowers. But, besides walking there is another option. Known all over the world, a typical Dutch activity is cycling. As spring is also the start of the cycling season, many regions in the Netherlands offer arrangements, excursions or routes for the cyclist. Cycling routes go through areas full of blossoming trees, or later in the season through fields of fruit, where farmers give you the opportunity to pick your own fruit or make an arrangement so you can take a picknickbasket and have a picknick in the garden.

Strawberries and cherries in Holland-veritasvisit
Strawberries and cherries are sold in spring in Holland

Next to the fruit farmers I mentioned the vegetable farmers. Which vegetable am I talking about? The asparagus! Strawberries, the delicious fruit of the season are often linked with the "white gold". Asparagus are mainly cultivated in the region Limburg, the region in the south of the Netherlands. Here they can also prepare these tasty vegetables in many different ways and a meal doesn't even have to cost much. And, while you're at it, try some of the Limburgian wine ( yes, Limburg also cultivates its own grapes).

For the cycling fanatics, it is also the season in which bike races start. Limburg, with its Dutch mountains is also the ideal place for bike races such as the Amstel Gold Race. It is nice to see the cyclist pass by, with the thousand of spectator standing at the sidelines yelling and admiring. Of course,  right after the race you can create your own track and set a new record.

Amazing tulips Keukenhof-veritasvisit
Keukenhof displays a beautiful range of tulips from March 24th till 16th of May.

Tip 3: Keukenhof and Flower Parade

When you think of spring in Holland, you think of mesmerizing tulip fields, enchanting daffodil fields and hyacinth fields filling the air with their spring perfume.  Keukenhof is a must see when you are in the Netherlands around Easter. The park is dedicated to the tulip and other spring flowers.  It is a beautiful park where you even get to shoot some good pictures of all that the Netherlands has to offer: a field of tulips in front of a windmill where a girl dressed in Dutch folklore clothes  sells cheese.

A very popular spring festival is the flower parade, in Dutch we call it Bloemencorso. These parades are in the bulb flower region, that means in the area of Leiden, Lisse en Haarlem. It's a great parade to see the beautiful spring flowers and the creativity of the locals, who work on the floats for months.

Both Keukenhof and the Flower Parade are big attractions and they welcome thousands of visitors from every part of the world. If you don't want to be in a traffic jam of tourist buses for hours or are curious about the many other festivals & activities in the area, just take a look at Flower Festival Lisse for some original ideas. Cycling through the spring flower fields is -of course- one of my favourite ways to pass time and I would definitely recommend you to add it to your visit to the Netherlands in spring.

Gouda cheese market group tour groepsreis Verita's Visit

Tip 4: Cheese Markets

Enough about flowers, let's talk about cheese. The cheese market season also starts in April. It's one of those spectacular spring events in the Netherlands that is not to be missed when you come and visit. There are markets in Gouda, Alkmaar, Edam, Hoorn and Woerden. Cheese farmers and traders meet on the market square to negotiate the price of the cheese, Dutch cheese girls offer tastings of different cheeses and there are many special activities. It's a great outing for the whole family.

Flea Market King's Day-veritasvisit
A flea market on King's Day. These can be found everywhere, but those in the smaller districts of cities or in villages are the best.

To see where and how the Dutch -Gouda- cheese is made, I would really recommend you to add a visit to a cheese farm and a historical cheese warehouse.

Tip 5: King's Day

King's day is on the 27th of April and Dutch love to celebrate this on the streets. Amsterdam is an orange heaven and should be visited on this dat, but be aware: on the 27th itself everything is fully packed, trains are full, roads are full, streets in Amsterdam are full. If you really want to be in Amsterdam on the 27th go to the city a couple of days before and make sure you have your accomodation booked long before, because Amsterdam will be crowded.

I have been in Amsterdam once on King's Day and I have to say I didn't really like it. To get there it takes a lot of patience and walking around in the city is a real pain: it's just too busy for my liking. I prefer other cities such as Utrecht or The Hague, where every neighbourhood has their own flea market and you can play old Dutch games. Nevertheless, if you want to have an authentic King's Day experience try celebrating it in a small city or even a village. It's much easier to get connected with the locals and the celebration is much more intense as it's much smaller and intimate.

Now King's Day doesn't start on the 27th of April, but the evening before. On the 26th in the late afternoon I would suggest you to go to The Hague to celebrate the Life I Live festival. Bands are playing everywhere, special theatre shows are organised and there are lots of things to do and see. It is one of the few nights this very special atmosphere can be sensed in The Hague, people are just having fun and there's a common vibe everyone can feel.

Tip 6: Liberation Day

Shortly after King's Day Day the Dutch commemorate the people who died in World War II, during peace operations or in war situations. The day after, the 5th of May it is Liberation Day, the day that we celebrate the end of World War II and think about the meaning of freedom. For this we have special Liberation Festivals in different cities in the Netherlands, where bands and known Dutch artists perform. This website gives you more information about who is performing where and what other activities are planned.

Tip 7: Museumweekend

Spring in the Netherlands means being outdoors. But, if the weather is bad, you can always enjoy the musea. In april Dutch musea organise special activities in a weekend that is cleverly called Museumweekend. Entrance in the musea is for free or you pay very little.

Verita's Visit Special spring Events in the Netherlands