Another steamer at the Dam!
Every year, Holland's version of Santa Claus - Sinterklaas (or Sint Nicolaas) - arrives on a steamer from his residence in Madrid and makes his traditional entry into Amsterdam, accompanied by a lot of assistants (Zwarte Pieten – Black Petes). This procession is a real Dutch tradition, so if you want to experience some culture, watch this event!
A little bit of history:
Sinterklaas is a slightly different character from his equivalents in for example England and the US. For a start, he lives in Spain; the reasons for this are unclear, but it might have something to do with Spanish domination of the Low Countries in the past. His assistants, Zwarte Pieten (Black Petes), are essentially elves in blackfaces. Their traditional role - handing out sweets to children - has been somewhat supplanted by the debates about racism they inspire every year.
Where and when is it happening?
The 18th of November, after following the Amstel, the steamship with Sinterklaas and the ‘Zwarte Pieten’ will arrive at the Scheepvaartmuseum around midday. There, Sinterklaas will jump on his white horse, heading to the Prins Hendrikkade around 12:30. The parade goes via Dammak, Rokin, on to the Vijzelstraat and the Weteringcircuit, and will finally arrive at the Leidseplein at about 2:30pm where he addresses you from the balcony of the Stadsschouwburg.
So Downtown-guests, be at the ‘Scheepvaartmuseum’ at 12:00 and Uptown-guests, don’t miss out on the speech on the Leidseplein around 2:30! Be careful for the sweets they throw at you (Pepernoten); they are delicious but can hit you very hard!