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Fireworks Wreak Havoc in the Netherlands as the Dutch Ring in 2014

A beautiful sight. A long-held Dutch tradition. But at what cost?
A beautiful sight. A long-held Dutch tradition. But at what cost?
Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

While fireworks are not technically legal in the Netherlands, officially, they can be lit from 10am on December 31 through 2pm on January the first.

Anyone who's spent any time in the Netherlands during the months of December and January, however, will tell you that fireworks typically start weeks prior and don't stop for several days after the New Year arrives.

The amount spent on fireworks to ring in 2014 had escalated to 67 million euro by December 31, 2013, according to De Telegraaf. That's a 10% increase from the year before.

So you can imagine, it was quite a spectacle to watch those kaleidoscopes of colorful light raining down on New Year's Eve.

But this kind of beauty doesn't come without a price. Especially here in the Netherlands, where shooting off fireworks (legal, illegal, and homemade alike) becomes a free-for-all.

This year alone:

  • an estimated 9 million euro worth of private property was damaged [],
  • police made somewhere in the neighborhood of 800 arrests [],
  • the fire department was called out 3,500 times on New Year's Eve [De Volkskrant],
  • one death resulted from the setting off of fireworks [De Volkskrant],
  • 75,000 complaints were lodged regarding the use of fireworks [De Volkskrant],
  • more than 380 people received firework-related injuries, with 125 of those victims requiring hospitalization [].

While some Dutch cling tightly to this long-held tradition, others are quite fed up. A petition for a country-wide fireworks ban is making the rounds for the third year in a row.

Some of the complaints raised by the petition include the stress fireworks cause both humans and animals, pollution caused by the fireworks, the millions of euros in damage, and the ever-increasing presence of illegal fireworks.

This blazing tradition has also met with disapproval from the Dutch Mayors Association (Genootschap van Burgemeesters) and the Dutch Police Trade Union ACP (Politievakbond ACP).

"This has gone too far," Bernt Schneiders, president of the Mayors Association, told De Telegraaf. "I speak for all the mayors when I say that there should be an end to heavy, illegal fireworks."

Wanna know what's hot in Holland? Subscribe to the Netherlands Travel Examiner to stay in the loop. Can't wait? Then check out past articles from American Cloggie, Tiffany Jansen.

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