Ah yes, the daffodils are blooming and the snowdrops are bursting out of the ground. It must be spring. But what does springtime look like in the Netherlands? What do you need to survive a Dutch spring? Here’s the low down.
1. Umbrella – that umbrella you needed in autumn and winter? Don’t store it away just yet. You’ll be needing that throughout the spring too. April showers are as prominent here in the Netherlands as they are in Britain. The nice thing about rain during the spring season here is that there is an element of surprise to it. One minute the sun is shining and you’re thinking of heading to the beach, the next minute you are pissed wet through. Think of it as a fun Dutch game, but without the fun.
2. Sunglasses – as I mentioned above, the sun shines in spring. Just be sure to carry your sunglasses case with you as the sunshine can be short-lived (see above).
3. Camera – springtime in the Netherlands is a feast for the eyes so be sure to carry photographic equipment around with you. It’s the time when flowers cover the ground – and the Dutch are not known for their blooms for nothing. Exploring the flower fields at this time of year is a must if you are in the Netherlands.
4. Winter coat – don’t dump it yet, the mornings snd evenings are surprisingly nippy well into April. It’s tempting to look at the sun out your bedroom window and think you can pass up your thick coat for that lovely springtime jacket but don’t do it. Not yet.
5. Orange clothes – April means King’s Day. Which means orange. If you ain’t in orange on the 27th of April I suggest you leave the country.
6. Tickets for the Keukenhof – spring means flowers. Did I say that already? And flowers can only mean one thing – the annual spectacle that is the Keukenhof. If you have never been it should be on your bucket list, no matter where in the world you live. Yes, it’s busy. Yes, it’s jam packed with tourists. But wow, it’s beautiful.
7. Food for brunch – spring brings the paas haas to the Netherlands (that’s the Easter Bunny to you and me – to the Dutch it’s a hare) and on Easter Sunday it’s traditional to sit down with family and eat brunch together. It’s something driven by the supermarkets I’m sure…..
8. Waterproofs – did I mention it rains a lot in spring here? So you’ll need protection. All over rain protection.
9. Pedalling power – spring storms (like the one this week) are not unusual and the wind blows over this flat land with nothing to stand in its way. However, do not think for a minute that winds gusting at 70km per hour stops any real Dutchie from getting on their bike. Depending on whether you are cycling into the wind, or have it in your back, your bike journey will either be done in record time or you’ll need every drop of pedalling power you can muster to make it to your destination.
10. Long pants and a jumper – at least that is what Trip Advisor tells those planning on visiting the Netherlands in spring. I would listen to me, and not Trip Advisor – you’ll usually need a damn sight more than a jumper and long pants (presumably they mean trousers and not underpants) to stay comfortable in April but hanging about in May in your pants may work.
“The spring months of April and May are also great times to visit during, even though the cooler daytime temperatures may require long pants and a jumper to stay comfortable.” Trip Advisor
11. Suncream – having said what I said for number 10 we have had some remarkably summery weather at the end of April in years gone by so sun cream should be at the ready.
12. A favourite strandtent – that’s a beach cafe to non-Dutch speakers. At the end of March the cafes are rebuilt on the beach and the terraces and doors open once more. It’s THE place to hang to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat with friends and loved ones. With a jumper and long pants on of course.
13. Wellington boots – did I mention it rains in spring? If you like wet feet put on your summer footwear, otherwise keep those wellies on hand.
14. A garden centre – spring is when the Dutch move outside and the garden gets a spruce up. Garden furniture is replaced, renovated or uncovered. Signs and pictures go up in the garden. Candle holders and ornaments appear on patio tables. The garden centres across the nation are buzzing with a capital B (although having said that our local Groenrijk has gone bust so that’s a little less buzzing this spring time).
15. Holiday plans – the meivakantie falls, surprisingly, in May and the nation heads off for anything from a mini-break to a two week long vacation. You should too.
16. A car or a bike – if you are in the Netherlands in springtime you’ll want to visit the flower fields. Did I mention flowers already? Online there are lots of touring routes to get the best views of the spectacular blocks of colours that cover the Dutch landscape. And if you do it in a convertible with the top down then you’ll blend in a treat. And one free tip – a family photo session in such a location is a great idea for the memory treasure trove – something that Vinita Salome can help you with but be quick because those blooms are gone before you know it.