As a general rule, if something is not allowed, people go over board the moment they get their hands on that forbidden fruit. The proof for this exists in the fact that the Dutch, who are constantly exposed to legalized prostitution in the Red Light District and marijuana in coffeeshops, rarely frequent these hotspots, while over-indulging, bleary eyed tourists wander the streets of Amsterdam as if in a magical La-La Land.
But on New Year’s Eve the tables are turned, and it is the Dutchies’ turn to go overboard… with fireworks. Fireworks (vuurwerk) are illegal in the Netherlands, except on New Years Eve. Temporary shops and stalls spring up all over the city in December, as people try to get their hands on as many things that explode, snap, crack and sparkle.
Most of these are set off simultaneously at midnight to welcome in the new year. It may seem scary to be out on the street, as explosions and flashes are going off all around you; some less imaginative individuals even throw these crackers at pedestrians, which can be dangerous. But being out on the streets when all this is happening is a one of a kind experience.
Nieuwmarkt is a fireworks hotspot, and the best place to take in all the mayhem. Try to find a spot up against a wall to avoid getting hit by a stray sparkler. Dam Square is also a good stop for the night, complete with a countdown to the new year, performances and, of course, fireworks.