This isn't snow falling from the sky, it's embers from a New Year's Eve bonfire which burnt out of control.

The tradition of lighting a massive pile of wooden pallets on the beach in the Dutch town of Scheveningen went off without a hitch, but soon after, a strong sea breeze took hold of the flames.

The wind whipped up fire tornadoes which twirled towards the beach promenade and nearby dunes.

Embers from the bonfire were seen drifting through the night sky and rained down in the town, near The Hague.

Fire services spent all night putting out small fires and dampening buildings to stop the cinders from catching.

The extent of the damage is unclear, and city authorities have launched an investigation.

The burning of the pallet pile is an annual tradition in Scheveningen.

Each year, residents compete with a neighbouring town for who can build the tallest bonfire on the beach.

They start on Boxing Day, and the massive wooden towers are set alight at midnight on December 31.

The Scheveningen pyre measured at least 32 metres before authorities put a stop to the construction on Sunday.

The mayor of nearby The Hague has ordered an investigation into what went wrong and whether it will be responsible for the bonfire tradition to be continued for next year.