Rotterdam Summer Carnival (Zomer Carnaval) is the largest Caribbean street party in the Netherlands, with more than 2,500 dancers, 25 carnival groups, 30 floats, and many other performances. It’s been held for over two decades and attracts about a million visitors each year, who come to celebrate with the dazzling shows, floats, dancers, extravagant costumes, and catchy rhythms. The Summer Carnival Rotterdam takes place for two days as part of the larger festival, Rotterdam Unlimited, which is the biggest free street festival in Europe.
Half day to 2 days
Accessibility Level – Medium
Van Nelleweg 1, 3044 BC Rotterdam, Netherlands
Dutch (official language), Frisian is spoken in the northern province of Friesland. English, German and French are widely spoken.
Kids, Teens, Adults, Seniors
230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs with two round pins are standard
Due to the number of visitors during the carnival days, there’s high demand for accommodations. So make sure to book well in advance. The carnival is inspired by South American carnivals’, with colorful streets, parades, Latin music, and live performance at night. Everything about this carnival is stunning, but there are three highlights you can’t afford to miss:
- Battle of the Drums
- Mercado: Summer Carnival Street Market
- Summer Carnival Street Parade
Battle of the Drums
The carnival kicks off with the Battle of the Drums event. Three energetic Caribbean brass bands start marching from different points in the city and make their way towards the stage on the Hofplein, getting the entire city of Rotterdam excited for the Summer Carnival! Then the battle begins in the streets surrounding the Hofplein, which are filled with brass bands competing for the prestigious Golden Drum.
Mercado: Summer Carnival Street Market
Take a break from partying and watching the performances, and refuel at the Mercado buzzing market. Enjoy traditional dishes and drinks and find other great merchandise like fashionable bags, accessories, fancy gadgets, and vintage clothing.
Summer Carnival Street Parade
The highlight of Summer Carnival is undoubtedly the street parade. Dozens of floats, extravagant costumes, dancers, and hundreds of thousands of visitors ignite the streets of Rotterdam. Then, as the evening drops in, continue the celebration with bands at the Hofplein.
Where should I go?
The Zomercarnaval Parade, street vendors, and concerts are all concentrated in Rotterdam’s city center. They are stretched out over an area of around five kilometers. If you need to wind down for a few hours, don’t worry. Just go to the other parts of Rotterdam, where life goes on as usual.
Frequently Asked Questions
Best Time To Visit
Rotterdam weather is oceanic. You can expect rainy days all year long. However, the temperature rarely reaches extreme levels. The best time to visit Rotterdam is in the spring and summer since there’ll probably be fewer rainy days, with pleasant weather. The hottest month is August and the coldest month is January. Remember to check the weather forecast few days before the trip and before heading to the airport.
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