Holland: The Land of Festivals

Most people think of Holland as the country of bicycles and windmills but over the past few years it’s emerged as a major destination for festivals. Every weekend during the summer there’s at least one festival going on somewhere in the country. Just this past weekend, there were 3 different festivals happening in Amsterdam alone!

Over the past couple of weeks I was able to attend three very different and very awesome festivals:

Nijmegen Summer Festival

One of the biggest events in Holland is Nijmegen’s annual Summer Festival / 4 Days Marches. For 4 consecutive days, participants in the marches walk 30-50km each day through Nijmegen and surrounding areas. The average human walks about 5km per hour so walking 50km with no breaks will take around 10 hours. Most walkers start at 3am each day to avoid the midday sun and heat. Military groups walk 40km, but they also wear full uniforms and carry weighted backpacks.

A military group in the Marches

A military group in the Marches

The final stretch of the 4 Days Marches

The final stretch of the 4 Days Marches

In addition to the walkers, over a million people flock to the city for the summer festival which turns the entire city into an outdoor entertainment venue. The population balloons from 160,000 to 1.8 million people! There are so many people that some locals rent out rooms in their homes for visitors. Every public square is bursting with stages, food and beer stands, music, and free performances. It’s the most amazing free festival I’ve ever been to!

The party tent in the Faberplein

The party tent in the Faberplein

Landjuweel Festival

On the outskirts of Amsterdam, a group of artists in the 1970’s squatted on a piece of abandoned land that has now become the community of Ruigoord. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Landjuweel Festival, a 5 day celebration of the arts. There are music, art, poetry, performance, and kid’s activities throughout the 5 days. From the music to the art installations to the food stands, everything here is a feast for the senses. I only attended one day of the festival but it was enough to never forget: the torchlit procession, ethereal music, laughing gas balloons, people, campfire, and dance party inside a former church. It all made for a fantastic festival experience!!

One of the camping areas.

One of the camping areas.

The main square of the festival.

The main square of the festival.

What would a festival be without balloons?

What would a festival be without balloons?

There was some very cool performance art.

There was some very cool performance art.

The campfire, and a lady with a gigantic horn. Or maybe it was a smoking pipe.

The campfire, and a lady with a gigantic horn. Or maybe it was a smoking pipe.

De Parade Utrecht

De Parade is a theatre festival that tours around Holland (Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Amsterdam) every summer. There are loads of short performances ranging from comedy to music scattered throughout the festival area. Unless you’re fluent in Dutch, I wouldn’t recommend attending any of the shows that are heavy on talking since you won’t understand anything. I attended a live violin & cinema performance that was really interesting (no dialogue). Each show has a separate entrance fee in addition to the EUR 7.5 general entrance fee. In addition to the shows, there are loads of food and drink options available.

Feels a bit like old Hollywood!

Feels a bit like old Hollywood!

Have you been to any festivals in Holland? Which ones would you recommend?

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