The Dutch really know how to party, and they also know exactly what makes a festival work. Out of the many amazing festivals hosted by the country, here are 10 that you should definitely not miss if you’re travelling there!
1. Amsterdam Dance Event
Amsterdam Dance Event, or ADE, is a five-day electronic music conference and festival held every October in Amsterdam, Netherlands. ADE is easily one of the leading electronic music platforms in the world, accompanied by the biggest club festival that covers the whole spectrum and taps into every electronic sub-genre. Every year, the conference picks focus countries or regions to concentrate on in terms of music, upcoming talent, technology and their general dance music scene. There are DJ cook-offs, masterclasses, and the new ADE Playground, which features more than 20 pop-up events, surprise daytime appearances by top DJs, special product lines, film screenings, and discounts in shops and bars!
2. Bloemencorso Zundert Flower Festival
The largest flower parade in the world, Bloemencorso is created entirely by volunteers. On the first Sunday of September every year, the small town of Zundert hosts the parade. The massive floats that form the parade are built by hamlets, which are small communities of builders who work hard for three whole months getting it ready. Since the flowers have to be fresh, they can only be applied about a week prior to the parade. Up until this year, seventeen hamlets participated in the festival, each building their own float, which was showcased with great pride. The 2015 parade was entirely dedicated to Van Gogh, leading to an enormous spectacle that was actually quite magnificent.
3. Cannabis Cup
Cannabis Cup is possibly Amsterdam’s most famous/notorious festival that promotes the personal cultivation and use of marijuana. This five day event will take you on a tour through the world of weed. Founded back in 1987 by an American activist, Steven Hager (who has been a pretty strong advocate for the legalization of marijuana), Cannabis Cup is what we’d call a modern day harvest festivity where stoners and hemp enthusiasts unite to experience and learn about their favourite past time. At the festival, you can sample different varieties of weed, attend seminars on legalisation, and eat amazing food for your munchies!
4. Terschellings Oerol Theatre Festival
Creating site-specific theater and arts projects on a small island, Terschellings Oerol Festival is one of the most cutting-edge theater festivals in the world. The island of Terschellings, since 1982, has been transformed into Oerol, a unique natural stage for dance, theater, street theater, music, and site-specific art installations. The shows create awe-inspiring experiences, and are conceptualised to match the surroundings. They’re both communal and intimate, so while you’re there you could possibly see a string quartet in underwear under a tree in one spot, a modern dance company set against the ocean backdrop, or a gripping play in a historic barn. It’s affordable, accessible, and absolutely worth every bit of time and money.
Redheads of the world unite on RedheadDay or Roodharigendag, a festival dedicated specifically to them. The city of Breda in the Netherlands holds the quirkiest little festival, dedicated and organised for all the redheads around the world, along with their non-redhead counterparts, partners, friends and family. This massive ginger celebration has featured some pretty cool events like music, a speed dating event, a scooter tour and a fashion show that featured the gorgeous Dutch-African model – Sterra Vlamings. Wacky outfits, phot exhibitions and a whole lot of fun is had at this festival, where redheads celebrate their ethnicity, gorgeous hair and fun personalities.
6. Amsterdam Gay Pride
This is actually one of the largest publicly-held festivals in Amsterdam, and also one of the best known gay pride festivals in the world. Amsterdam is famous for being high on the list of Europe’s most LGBTQ-friendly cities, and every year 150,000 people turn up to watch the highlight of the festival – the Canal Parade. 100 or so extravagantly decorated boats cruise the canals of the city, making it the world’s only floating gay pride. With street discos, open-air theatre performances, a film festival, a sports program, and the highly-anticipated parties, this festival is quite a blast. Anyone and everyone is welcome at this celebration.
7. Step In The Arena Graffiti Festival
Over 200 graffiti artists show their skill at one of the largest graffiti festivals in Europe every year. The 2015 edition, held in the Berenkuil (“bear pit”) crossing in the main road in Eindhoven at the Insulindelaan, had artists come from all around the world: Spain, Australia, Italy, UK, France, Denmark, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, and the result was gorgeous as hell. This festival has left its mark on a number of walls in Eindhoven. With a whole lot of exciting things happening, the festival goes on for ten days in a row, and the city is completely under the spell hip hop and breakdance, skateboarding and BMX, graffiti and street art.
8. Scheveningen International Fireworks Festival
This festival is actually an international competition for fireworks, and the resultant show will leave you awestruck. Teams and firwork producers from several countries travel to Scheveningen, a quaint little beach town near the Hague to showcase their talent and ingenuity. For four days, the night sky is filled with a beautiful display of fireworks of all types, and thousands of spectators gather to watch this vibrant and burst of noise and light. There are two shows each evening, and the winners are announced on the third night. the beachfront cafes here have the best view of the fireworks, and are usually packed on the days of the festival.
9. King’s Day (Koningsdag)
The Dutch welcomed their first male monarch since 1890 – King Willem-Alexander on April 30, 2013. For decades now, the people of Netherlands have been celebrating Queen’s Day on April 30. From next year, the festival will have a new name (King’s Day_ and a new date (April 27), but the festivities remain pretty much the same. The yearly Amsterdam celebration of the monarch’s birthday is a Dutch treat no one should miss. In a city that’s known for being lax with laws, these 24 hours have practically no rules whatsoever. The streets come alive with massive flea markets (you can sell anything without a permit), picnics, concerts and a lot more!
10. Rotterdam International Film Festival
This is one film festival you absolutely have to attend, especially if you’re into cinema. The festival is known for attracting an audience that consists of all kinds of people, because its cinema promotes diversity, as well as building a relationship between directors and viewers. Aside from red carpet events and screenings, there are also opportunities for audiences to mingle with filmmakers. The festival showcases some of the best of local and international cinema, and the films go on to compete in bigger festivals. The Dutch spirit of non-judgement and diversity comes through in the way the festival is conducted, and if you’re in Rotterdam at the time, this is something you should not miss.