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Amsterdam | © Kavalenkava / Shutterstock
Amsterdam | © Kavalenkava / Shutterstock
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This Is What Happened in the Netherlands in 2017

Picture of Lily Niu
Updated: 21 December 2017
For more on the year’s cultural happenings, check out some more of our 2017 In Review round-ups.

Not only does the Netherlands rank among the top five countries in the world to be a woman this year, the Dutch welcomed Europe’s first-ever all-avocado restaurant in Amsterdam. Re-live some of the biggest moments in the country for 2017, as we look towards what next year brings.

Europe’s first ever avocado-only restaurant opened in Amsterdam

Despite its far-reaching reputation as a party city, Amsterdam isn’t just about booze, coffee-shops, and its world-renowned Red Light District. The build-up to the January opening of Amsterdam’s first all-avocado restaurant, The Avocado Show, saw the superfruit’s influence on the continent take hold in a way that shocked seasoned avocado-only restaurant-goers in New York, who assumed interest had waned.

Should a visit to Amsterdam see you worse for wear after a night out on the town, your “morning-after” itinerary should feature a trip to the Hangover Information Centre, followed by a tasty—and highly Instagrammable—brunch at The Avocado Show.

Empty prisons were turned into shelters for refugees

Prison overcrowding may be a serious problem in some corners of the globe but for the Dutch, there’s only good news: crime has declined to the point where prisons are closing. Since 2010, nearly a third of all prisons in The Netherlands have been shut down, while others took in inmates from Belgium and Norway to prevent closure. The Dutch government re-opened a few as shelters for refugees, one of which has become a cultural hub where asylum seekers and locals work together to promote integration.

De Koepel prison in Haarlem
De Koepel prison in Haarlem | ©

A brothel run by sex workers opened its doors

Many an intrepid traveller to The Netherlands is aware of the country’s liberal attitude towards sex work. Brothels and prostitution are legal enterprises, but despite the government’s best intentions on preventing pimps and organised crime from exploiting the trade, harmful activity slips through the cracks. In an effort to clamp down on such ongoings, a number of “windows” were closed in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. However, this resulted in the area becoming gentrified, leaving legitimate sex workers unable to afford working there.

On May 16 however, the mayor of Amsterdam opened a brothel operated by sex workers themselves. The initiative is run by a foundation called My Red Light, which enables prostitutes to participate in every facet of the business.

Crowds passing through the Red Light District
Crowds passing through the Red Light District | © Pixabay

The Dutch king revealed his double life

In May, the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, confessed to holding down a part-time job as a KLM and Martinair co-pilot for 21 years. While his passion for flying and “guest pilot” gigs were no secret, the full extent of the monarch’s second life was unknown to the public.

Speaking to the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the King revealed why co-piloting had been beneficial to him: “You can’t take your problems from the ground into the skies. You can completely disengage and concentrate on something else. That, for me, is the most relaxing part of flying.”

Maarten Putman and King Willem-Alexander
Maarten Putman and King Willem-Alexander | © NATASCHA LIBBERT HANDOUT / EPA/REX / Shutterstock

Dutch invaders may have finished building Stonehenge for ancient Britons

It may have taken millennia for experts to conclude whether Stonehenge was, in fact, built as a full circle, but the story behind the ancient Britons who began its construction has come to an abrupt end—possibly thanks to the Dutch.

In a gene study of humans in prehistoric Europe, it’s been found that a group of “Beaker folk”, whose genetic profiles were similar to those in The Netherlands, may have wiped out the Stone Age Britons working on the monument circa 2500 BC. This conclusion follows the discovery that soon after the Beaker people’s arrival in Britain, genetic traces of these ancient Britons disappeared. Interestingly, the construction of Stonehenge continued.

Protesters in Amsterdam were pissed over lack of female toilets

The Netherlands may rank number four in the world as one of the best places to be a woman but that hasn’t meant the fight for gender equality is over. In September, a planned protest which made waves on social media was cancelled abruptly after becoming too large-scale. The issue? Out of the numerous, conveniently located male urinals scattered throughout the Dutch capital, there are only three public toilets with stalls. An impromptu protest in Amsterdam’s Leidseplein square commenced regardless.

A public urinal in Amsterdam
A public urinal in Amsterdam | © FaceMePLS / Flickr

Visits to Rembrandt and parliament to be compulsory for Dutch schoolchildren

In September, it was announced that the incoming government planned to make visits to see Rembrandt’s masterpiece, The Night Watch, and parliament’s lower house in Amsterdam, compulsory for schoolchildren.

Parents throughout the country were in agreement with this plan proposed by a four-party coalition, following the Dutch general election in March.

Rembrandt, The Night Watch, 1642
Rembrandt, The Night Watch, 1642 | Courtesy of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam / WikiCommons

A Dutch start-up wants to train crows to pick up cigarette butts

The littering of cigarette butts is a difficult problem to tackle but one Dutch start-up, Crowded Cities, has come up with an ingenious solution—use a carrot-and-stick approach with crows to let them clean up the streets! Given their highly intelligent nature, these feathered “pests” could be our feathered friends much more than we realised.

© Crowded Cities