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The official arrival of Sinterklaas – 60 years of live TV coverage!

Tomorrow, at around midday, Sinterklaas will make his official arrival in Roermond, the Netherlands. This extravagant event will be televised for what will be the sixtieth time, and beamed around the country to excited Dutch children who have been looking forward to presents and typical Dutch Sinterklaas treats, including pepernoten (spicy biscuits), chocoladeletters (solid chocolate letters) and marsepein (marzipan), that the Sint and his Pieten (helpers) will bring with them on their colourfully decorated steam boat.

The Sint’s annual appearance has been covered live on Dutch TV since 1952 – for the first ten years, this arrival almost always took place in Amsterdam, but since the beginning of the sixties, the Sint has become increasingly adventurous and he now visits a different city in the Netherlands every year. This year, the honour of welcoming Sinterklaas and his helpers falls to the Dutch city of Roermond in Limburg.

And Saturday will mark only the second time in sixty years that the Sint’s arrival has been celebrated in Limburg – which is rather surprising considering that, according to historical sources, his first ever official arrival in 1888 took place in the picturesque town of Venray, Limburg. We can only assume that this visit was a roaring success, because since then an official Sinterklaas arrival has taken place every year, with the exception of 1944. Fortunately this isolated absence was more than made up for when Holland’s Canadian liberators made 20 military jeeps available for the Sint’s arrival in 1945. However, it was not until 1952 that Sinterklaas and his team finally appeared live on Dutch television, allowing children from all corners of the country to enjoy the spectacle.

As mentioned, this year’s official Sinterklaas arrival will take place in Roermond. At around 12.15, the Sint and his band of helpers are due to moor their steam boat at the Roerkade, where they will be met by the acting mayor of Roermond. Don’t worry if you can’t watch it on Dutch television – you can still follow all the action at zappelin.nl. The program begins at 12.00h Dutch time and is expected to finish around 13.15h.

Prefer to read this article in Dutch? Why not visit to our sister blog, heimwee.info, specifically intended for Dutch emigrants abroad.

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