The Dutch countdown to New Year’s Day

Hotel California by the Eagles may seem like an odd choice of a song to usher in the New Year, but don’t be surprised when you hear it play on the radio at midnight on December 31.

The song beat out 1999 other hit songs to make it to the top spot of the Top 2000 countdown – a long standing Dutch tradition of the season.

In 1999 Dutch public broadcasting radio station NPO Radio 2 decided to do mark the start of the new millennium with something grand. They came up with the idea of the countdown with 2000 songs. People from all over the Netherlands would vote for their favourite 2000 songs of all time and the winning list would play from Christmas Day to the witching hour on December 31. The concept was a hit. So much so that it became a long standing tradition that is now in its 16th year.

“During this period we play only these songs. Between songs the DJs share listeners’ stories and memories about a particular band or song that they voted for. We record 11 million listeners during this period annually,” said Jurre Bosman, station manager NPO Radio 2.

“We add new songs each year to the list that people can vote for. A person can vote for up to 20 songs, of which the first five votes are free.” This year they recorded 3.8 million total votes, a number 15% higher than the previous years.

Interestingly, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen has been at the top slot 13 times, while Hotel California, usually at number 2, came in first only once before in 2010. This year, Bohemian Rhapsody is at number 2 and Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin is at number 3. In 2005, a song called Avond by Dutch band Boudewijn de Groot became the only Dutch song to make it to the top 3. Other bands that often feature on the list include Pink Floyd, Metallica, U2, Coldplay and Dire Straits. Popular songs by Dutch artists or new hits enter the list every year.

“We start playing the songs at 12:00 on Christmas Day and for the next 156 hours we play through the list. There are also TV shows around it, a quiz, and a Top 2000 concert in Rotterdam where bands play their Top 2000 songs,” said Bosman. There is also a Top 2000 Cafe setup in Hilversum where people can interact with DJs in person. Over 25,000 people reportedly visit the cafe each year.

If you’d like to be part of this Dutch tradition, all you have to do is tune in. The Top 2000 will air on NPO Radio 2 and online on

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