News of: Thursday, November 14 2013,
Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Santa Claus, will arrive in Amsterdam again this Sunday (November 17).
The yearly Sinterklaas parade in Amsterdam is the largest world-wide (say the organizers).
Sinterklaas is an age-old Dutch tradition, at which children get presents. Sinterklaas is celebrated on December 5, but the tensions and expectations amongst children build up weeks before that date.
In Amsterdam, like in many other places in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas arrives in the country with a large parade. He will be officially welcomed by the mayor of Amsterdam (Eberhard van der Laan), and accompanied by hundreds of his helpers, the 'Zwarte Pieten' ('Black Peets').
This year's parade is slightly overshadowed by the unusually fierce debate about the alleged racist character of the 'Zwarte Pieten'. The helpers are said to be racist stereotypes.
Although this discussion comes up almost every year, this year's debate has been extensive, and heated. More people than before have criticized the 'Zwarte Pieten' (and millions of Dutch people have expressed their anger with the attempt to interfere with what is regarded as an age-old, innocent tradition).
The organization of the Amsterdam Sinterklaas Parade has announced that the Peets will no longer have golden earrings, and they may apply other colours of lipstick than just red, and maybe some other changes.
The parade in Amsterdam is very long, with many floats and it attracts thousands of children and their (grand) parents. The Zwarte Pieten will give pepernoten (sweets) to children (traditionally, they throw them around).
There will be hundreds of Zwarte Pieten, who will have thousands of kilograms of pepernoten to hand out to the children.
Route in Amsterdam:
10.45 am: Sinterklaas starts with his boat tour on the river Amstel, to the Scheepvaartmuseum.
12.00 am: Arrival at Scheepvaartmuseum and official welcome by the mayor of Amsterdam.
12.30 pm: Start of the Sinterklaas parade Prins Hendrikkade
1.15 pm: Near Sint Nicolaas Church (opposite the Central Station)
1.30 pm: Arrival at Dam Square. Via Damrak, Dam, Rokin, Muntplein, Rembrandtplein, Utrechtsestraat and Weteringcircuit to Leidseplein square.
3.30 pm: Arrival at Leidseplein square
4.15 pm: Sinterklaas greets all Amsterdam children from the balcony of the Stadsschouwburg theatre on Leidseplein.
See the route on this map (May take some time to load!).
View Sinterklaas arrival and parade 2012 in Amsterdam in a larger map
Black Peets (Zwarte Pieten)
Child dressed up as Sinterklaas helper
Sinterklaas Parade at Damrak