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The Parade of Sinterklaas, Who is Sinterklaas?



December 6th is Saint Nicholas Day.

Saint Nicholas was a real person who lived around the 4th century and is the origin of Santa Claus.

In the Netherlands, Saint Nicholas is called Sinterklaas, and everyone celebrate Sinterklaas on December 5th.

Sinterklaas, a culture not found in my country, Japan. But in the Netherlands, Sinterklaas is more popular than Santa Claus.


Sinterklaas comes from Spain in November. He will visit schools for about a month and return to Spain on December 6th.

Various Sinterklaas events are held during Sinterklaas’ stay in the Netherlands.


Who is Sinterklaas?

In the Netherlands, it is said that Sinterklaas was a priest who came from Turkey and was very kind to children.

Sinterklaas has long white hair and a beard, and wears a red cape over a traditional white vestment.

He rides a white horse and is accompanied by his squire called Zwarte Piet.

The big red book that Sinterklaas is holding records the children’s behavior for a year.

Children who do good deeds will receive presents, and bad children will be packed in a bag and taken away to Spain…



Parade of Sinterklaas in November

More than a month before Santa Claus arrives, Sinterklaas comes from Spain to the Netherlands on a steamship.

A parade is held on the day Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands.

The Sinterklaas parade are held in cities in the Netherlands on the first Saturday (or Sunday) after November 11th.



Parade of Sinterklaas in Amsterdam

I went to see the Sinterklaas parade in Amsterdam in 2016.

Parade on Canal

Amsterdam’s Sinterklaas parade starts at the canals in the morning.

The canal parade begins with joyful music, and children run after the slowly sailing parade boats. And the father run after the children. This is the heartwarming sight of the canal parade.


Parade in Downtown

A grand parade is held on the downtown main street in the afternoon.

When the parade begins with music, the joyous voices of children echo.

First comes Zwart Piet and they entertain children with clown-like pantomimes.


Zwart Piet, who has a big bag, gives out the small biscuits in the bag to the children. Small biscuits called Pepernoot are traditional biscuits eaten on Sinterklaas day.


When Sinterklaas appears, the children shout “Sinterklaas!

The main event for the children is high fives with Sinterklaas. All the children raise their hands and waiting for Sinterklaas to give them a high five.


The Sinterklaas parade is like a children’s festival. It’s a day when children dress up in Sinterklaas and Zwart Piet costumes and run around town.


Parade of Sinterklaas 2022

The 2022 Sinterklaas Parade in Amsterdam is on Sunday 13th November.

Other cities will hold parades on Saturday, 12th November.


Official website of the Amsterdam Parade; Sintinamsterdam.nl


Some drawbridges are closed to traffic during the Canal Parade.
– The downtown parade closes the main street and stops trams.
– It gets very busy every year. Get there early if you want to see the downtown parade from a good spot.