Can you believe the first month of 2023 is already over? From carnaval to coronavirus vaccinations, here are eight things expats living and working in the Netherlands need to know about this February.
1. Applications reopen for the STAP budget
A little later than initially planned, the next round of applications for the Netherlands’ STAP budget scheme will open at 10am on February 28. The cabinet decided to postpone this round (which was set to take place on January 2) to provide time for the Dutch government to ensure the scheme is properly implemented and regulated in 2023.
2. Schools in the Netherlands close for spring break 2023
Yes, children across the Netherlands can start looking forward to their next break! This month, schools in all three regions (North, Central, and South) will close for a one-week holiday, also known as the voorjaarsvakantie (or the carnavalsvakantie or krokusvakantie). Schools in the North and Central regions will be closed from February 25 to March 5, while schools in the South will be closed from February 18 to 26, so the holiday lines up with carnaval celebrations.
3. North Brabant and Limburg go wild for carnaval
On the topic of carnaval, February also marks a significant month in the calendar for those celebrating this traditionally Catholic festival. The biggest events will be taking place in Den Bosch, Eindhoven and Maastricht, and attending one of these celebrations is a surefire way to brighten up even the darkest and coldest winter days. Find out more about carnival celebrations in the Netherlands here!
4. No more coronavirus vaccinations for five to 11-year-olds
While up until now children in the Netherlands have also been invited to receive a vaccination against COVID-19, the government has now adopted the latest advice from the Dutch Health Council. From February 23, 2023, and onwards, those between the ages of five and 11 who aren’t considered medically vulnerable will no longer be invited for a jab.
5. Van Gogh Museum kicks off celebrations for 50th birthday
This summer, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. While the big blowout birthday party won’t be taking place until July, the museum is already kicking off celebrations in February with the opening of a special exhibition, Choosing Vincent: From Family Inheritance to World-Famous Collection. The exhibition opens on February 10, and focuses on the “unconditional support” Van Gogh received from his family.
6. Green E3 comet to peak on February 1
It’s likely you’ve never heard of a green comet before but, regardless of whether you’re a stargazing expert or a novice, this astronomical phenomenon is not one you’ll want to miss. On February 1, Comet C / 2022 E3 (ZTF) will peak and should be visible to the naked eye as it travels within “just” 42 million kilometres of our planet. Known as E3, this comet is especially noteworthy as, not only is it green in colour, but it hasn’t been spotted in skies above Earth in 50.000 years!
7. More regional public transport strikes to hit the Netherlands
This week, Dutch trade unions announced that regional public transport workers in the Netherlands will be staging another five days of strikes, starting on Monday, February 6. It is not yet clear exactly how many and which public transport services will be affected by the strikes, but passengers have been warned to prepare for delays and cancellations, and have been advised to adjust their travel plans when possible.
8. Brace yourselves, Valentine’s Day is almost upon us!
And last but not least, love is in the air! Get in your flower orders and pick up those boxes of chocolates, everybody, because it’s the most romantic time of the year: Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re someone who leans into the romance or someone who doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about, February 14th is fast approaching, so why not get into the spirit of this “holiday” – Amsterdam is one of the romantic cities in the world, after all.
Thumb: OlgaMarkova via Shutterstock.com.