20 Nov 2005. The annual arrival of Santa Claus in Amsterdam offers an occasion for grand festivities. Sinterklaas, or Sint Nicolaas, is somewhat different from his other European and North American counterparts. For one thing, he doesnt arrive from the North Pole but from Spain, and instead of elves as helpers he has an assistant named Black Pete, Zwarte Piet. There is undoubtedly a historical explanation for all of this connected to Spains domination of the Netherlands in the 15th and 16th centuries. In Amsterdam, Sint Nicolaas arrives by steamship on the Amstel river, via the Berlagebrug, the Nieuwe Herengracht and the Schippersgracht, ending up at the Scheepvaartmuseum, Netherlands Maritime museum, at about midday. The mayor of Amsterdam welcomes him with great ceremony before the parade of musical bands and colourful floats moves off through the streets. Passing through Prins Hendrikkade, Damrak, the Vijzelstraat and the Weteringcircuit on his white horse, Sint Nicolaas finally gets to the Leidseplein at about 14.30, where he addresses the throngs of children awaiting him from the balcony of Stadsschouwburg, the city theatre.
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Sinterklaas comes to town.
Various parts of the city.
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