New Year’s celebrations were busy, but didn’t really get out of hand, police chief says

Fireworks over Rotterdam, but it was quiet in the streets. Photo: Bas Czerwinski ANP

The Netherlands saw the New Year with rockets, firecrackers and street parties, despite a ban on most fireworks and large gatherings.

Police said on Saturday morning that it had been a “busy night” which was “kept under control only by the use of considerable police capacity”. According to the Telegraaf, there were more calls from the emergency services than in 2020.

As every year, the riot police were mobilized to deal with the disturbances and protect ambulance and firefighters, especially in the most rural areas of the country.

In the Drenthe village of Bovensmilde, riot police intervened for several hours to disperse groups of young people throwing fireworks. Similar incidents occurred in at least five villages in Friesland, including Burdaard – where tear gas was used – and in Tzummarum and Kollumerzwaag.

In Groningen, four people were arrested for throwing fireworks at emergency service agents, but there were only 13 arrests in total in the three northern provinces, broadcaster NOS reported.

Eliminate car fires in Veen. Photo ”Erik Haverhals ANP

In Noord Holland, police said there had been 32 arrests, including 17 for arson and illegal fireworks. In Amsterdam, a crowd of 3,000 to 4,000 gathered at the city center roadblock to celebrate the New Year, and riot police were mobilized to clear the area.

Local broadcaster AT5 said riot police were also called in to restore order in Amsterdam Nieuw-West.

Elsewhere, cars were set on fire in Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague and in Rotterdam, gangs of young people threw fireworks at police as they tried to put out a fire at a school.

There have also been a number of arrests in Arnemuiden in Zeeland after groups of young people started burning.

Police chief Willem Woelders said every attack on emergency service workers was unfortunate. “But our preparations over the past few months have allowed us to be there on time if anything goes wrong. Thanks to this, nowhere has the situation really escalated.

Despite the fireworks ban and the large number of seizures in recent weeks, a surprisingly large amount of fireworks has been set off, he said. “Cars were also set on fire across the country and police dispersed illegal parties across the country. But that didn’t lead to any major problems.


Rotterdam’s specialist eye hospital treated three cases on Saturday morning, compared to 10 to 15 in a normal year. None of the patients were seriously injured, NOS said.

Some people were injured by fireworks. RTV Rijnmond said a man lost a hand when fireworks exploded, while in Berkel en Rodenrijs a man suffered serious foot injuries after fireworks rolled towards him .

Full injury figures will be released on Wednesday, broadcaster RTL Nieuws said.

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