The Haarlem Kermis in the Grote Markt happens every year in the two weeks around King’s Day.
But wait, what does “kermis” mean. Kermis is Dutch for “fair” as in the traveling kind with rides, games, carnival food, etc. And while the Grote Markt may not look big enough for this at first, they are really able to cram a lot into a relatively small space. Some rides remain the same every year while others come and go. A few years ago they added the Ferris Wheel pictured above. I highly recommend doing this one. Even though the ride itself might not be so thrilling, the views of Haarlem and the surrounding area are. On a clear day you can see all the way to Zandvoort in one direction, and Amsterdam in the other.
After a ride on the Ferris Wheel you can stop and get an oliebol (you know, the fried dough ball that they sell during Christmas and New Years time here in the Netherlands) or maybe a Belgian waffle or some poffertjes (those mini Dutch pancakes with butter and powdered sugar).
Will the Ferris Wheel be there this year? Only time will tell, the kermis opens this year on Wednesday April 12th and goes until Thursday April 27th.
Want more kermis? There is always a second kermis in Haarlem that a lot of people do not know about because it is not as central. Usually at the same time as the kermis in the Grote Markt there is another much larger kermis on the Zaanenlaan in Haarlem Noord. This year that one will run from April 26th until May 7th. I’ve even ridden a small rollercoaster at this one before!
Fairs can be found around the Netherlands all spring, summer, and fall. Every city and village will hold their own fair at some point during the year. You can find more information about fairs in the Netherlands at Kermis.nu (in Dutch).