The Inventory Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) in the Netherlands contains ICH of which the communities, groups or individuals involved have written a safeguarding plan. Those plans are reviewed by an independent review committee. Every three years an evaluation of the safeguarding takes place.


Every year, from December 27th up to New Year’s Eve, a part of the population of Scheveningen is busy organising two large bonfires, the one of the Noorderstrand (northern part of the beach) and the one of Duindorp. Scheveningen Noorderstrand herewith combats the southern part of the beach, Duindorp, to decide who can build the highest bonfire. The winner of this tradition may hold the title ‘highest bonfire of the Netherlands’ for a year. These gigantic bonfires are simultaneously lit on New Year’s Eve. The last days of December are used to stack the ten thousands of pallets that have been brought to the beach, according to a particular system. Many people take days off in this week, especially to be able to help. The pallets that land on the stack are mainly bought from pallet dealers, but there are also dealers who give the pallets for free. The construction of the bonfire happens not only in daytime, but people are also working in the evening and at night, whatever the weather conditions. Around midnight on New Year’s Eve the moment comes: the enormous stack is lit and everyone celebrates the turn of the year together. The whole of Scheveningen gathers on the beach to celebrate the new year.



Working for the bonfire has the character of a reunion for Scheveningen. Children are involved in the bonfire from a very early age; they grow up with the tradition. In recent years the bonfire keeps attracting more interested people and tourists as well. Within the framework of the safety plan the organisers keep in close contact with the municipality of The Hague, the police and the fire brigade.



The bonfire has its roots in the illegal Christmas tree burnings in various neighbourhoods in Scheveningen in the forties and the fifties of the last century. During rausen (collecting Christmas trees) disputes between the neighbourhoods were settled in fights, sometimes causing casualties. But at the same time the social aspect was very important: young people went out together, neighbours met each other at the construction of the stack and the sense of togetherness was intense. Because of the fights, burglaries and vandalism the municipality prohibited bonfires by the end of the eighties. The municipality now proposed the neighbourhoods to make a mutual bonfire, on the Noorderstrand. The people from Scheveningen reluctantly consented, but under the condition that the fire could be as high as possible. The battle between the neighbourhoods was replaced by an organised competition on the beach. The districts Muis, Roerstraat and Magneet/Woeste Hoogte were the first to build a bonfire on the beach. Because other parties gave up after a few years, in the end the Roerstraat remained as the only beach-bonfire organising party from Scheveningen-Village. People from other districts of Scheveningen-Village joined the Roerstraat. The event was soon called Bonfire Scheveningen Noorderstrand. It now became a competition for the highest fire, between the only two remaining bonfires in Scheveningen, the Noorderstrand of Scheveningen-Village and the southern part of the beach of the district Duindorp in Scheveningen-Town.



Duindorp vreugdevuur