5 Dutch Festivals That Are Worth The Hangover

Posted on October 19, 2012

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“Waar is dat feestje?!” [Wahris-duht-face-yuh?!].

3FM Lowlands 2009-7704

3FM Lowlands 2009 (Photo credit: benzpics63)

Translation: ‘Where is that party?!’ If there’s anything us Dutchies love to do, it’s party (and occasionally shout out ‘Waar is dat feestje!?’ in the process). Because we can always find a reason to celebrate, every year there are tons of festivals held throughout the country. Whether you’re interested in music, art, theater or just craving for a taste of the Dutch party spirit, there’s always something that caters to your taste. As a fanatical festival junkie, I’m here to share 5 festivals in the Netherlands that will guarantee you the time of your life. Waar is dat feestje?! Hier is dat feestje!

LOWLANDS FESTIVAL

Every year tens of thousands happy campers leave their normal lives behind to spend a weekend in one of the greatest places on earth: A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise. What started out as a relatively small cultural event back in 1967 grew out to be one of the biggest and most popular festivals in The Netherlands. Apart from 7 music stages, Lowlands also has stages for theater, dance, lectures, cinema and stand-up comedy, so there’s always something for everybody. Off stage, on the festival grounds, there’s always something going on. Imagine people shooting out of cannons, portable musical chairs games and silent disco, Lowlands is a place where you’ll have a hard time getting bored. Tickets start at €166,- and will get you entrance to both festival- and campsite for 3 days and a shuttle bus service to and from the nearest train station.

WHEN?: It’s usually in the last weekend of Hollands summer break. In 2013 the festival will be held on 16, 17 and 18 August.
WHERE?: “Evenemententerrein Walibi Holland”, which is in Biddinghuizen. You can take a train to Lelystad Centrum or ‘t Harde and take the shuttle bus from there.
WHO?: Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Bloc Party, Feist and James Worthy are but some of the names that were added to the line-up of 2012.
WARNING: Be quick! Last year’s edition was sold out in under 2 hours. The line-up hadn’t been announced yet at that point. Pre-sales start in February.
BIG PLUS: No Porta Potties but clean, flushing toilets!
TIP!: Almost every year, the festival is closed by Balkan beats DJ Kees van Hondt, which is usually the biggest party of the weekend. Make sure to bring an attribute to wave around in the air with. A plant or blow up doll would be perfect.

Check out Lowlands’ official website for info on ticket sales.


VALTIFEST

Who doesn’t love a theme party? Welcome to Amsterdam’s most colorful festival. The Valtifest tradition is that every edition has a theme, which applies to the decor as well as the dress code. Going over the top is encouraged, it’s almost mandatory! The theme of 2012 was ‘Next To Uranus’ (subtle, eh?), and people went all the way. For a taste of the festival vibe and to get some inspiration for your own outfit, check out this video:

Valtifest has 8 different stages, all of which blast thumping beats and sizzling electro tunes all day long, for you to dance to until you drop. You can get tickets for €50 in the presale.

Valtifest

Of course, I was under dressed as a Woman in Black.

WHEN?: The madness takes place on the 1st of September.
WHERE?: Valtifest is located on a large industrial field called the NDSM werf. You can take a train to Amsterdam Central Station and take a ferry from there. Just follow the weirdos!
WHO?: In 2008, Lady Gaga gave her first performance in the Netherlands at Valtifest!
WARNING: Be on time as the ferry gets very crowded!
BIG PLUS: I love watching people. Especially when they’re dressed up!
TIP: Bring earplugs! The music is insanely loud. You can buy them on the festival grounds, but of course the price will be inflated, setting you back €20.

For more information and ticket sales for Valtifest, check their website.


QUEEN’S DAY

English: Women dressed in orange during Queen'...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

In a post about festivals in the Netherlands, I couldn’t NOT write about Holland’s most famous national holiday; Queen’s day, or ‘Koninginnedag’ in Dutch.  Since 1948, the Dutch have celebrated former queen Juliana’s birthday on April 30th. When in 1980 current queen Beatrix was inaugurated, also on April 30th she decided to keep the date, keeping the tradition as is.

Where you’d normally need a permit to sell things on the streets, on Queen’s Day it’s a free for all, so you will find so-called “vrijmarkten” (flea markets) in almost any town or city. But wandering around little markets is probably not the reason you came to Holland on this day, is it?

All over the country, people dress up in orange and go out on the streets to party like only the Dutch can. In the bigger towns and cities, you will find outdoor stages and bars and even fairs (try getting into one of those attractions after a few beers!). It’s the event of the year and something any avid festival goer should experience at least once.

Queen's Day outfits

Queen’s Day outfits (Photo credit: tjuel)

WHEN?: April 30th
WHERE?: All over the country. You can find the best events in the bigger cities such as Amsterdam, Den Haag or Utrecht.
WHO?: 6 out of 10 Amsterdammers celebrate Queen’s Day, so a good party is guaranteed.
WARNING: Decide upon which city you want to celebrate and go there early. The public transport networks are usually on overload and getting from one city to another is almost made impossible.
BIG PLUS: It’s free! Which means more money for beer.
TIP: Don’t miss out on Queen’s Day’s pre-party; Queen’s Night, which is held in most cities and towns on the night before, April 29th.


OEROL

I’ll admit, this is not your typical party destination, but it’s a unique experience. Located on one of the Dutch islands (yes, we have those!), Oerol festival has a relaxed atmosphere and is a true hippie paradise. Come June, thousands of people take the ferry over to Terschelling to spend a few days immersing themselves in music, art and theater and randomness. Events are spread throughout the entire island from the town centers to the beaches and range from weird to weirder. One of my favorite memories includes a traditional Dutch cargo tricycle used as a stage for a mini jazz band, a lantern and a guy in a cloak reading fairy tales on the beach at night. Oerol is a festival that should be experienced first hand, even if only for the fine choice of Dutch indie music showcased every year. A wristband will give you entrance for the full duration of the festival and will set you back €22,-. Some concerts may require an extra fee.

Oerol, one of the very few festivals where you can get some peace & quiet. Image: albert besselse

WHEN?: The next edition will be held from June 14 until June 23.
WHERE?: All over Terschelling. You can take a train to station Harlingen Haven, from there it’s a 100 meter walk to the ferry that will take you to the island.
WHO?: Some of the Netherlands’ finest indie musicians perform on Oerol’s stages. The line-up is usually gigantic and in my experience it’s better to just roam around and be surprised.
WARNING: Oerol has no official camping area, but you can pitch your tent at one of Terschellings local campsites. Best is to make reservations well in advance, as the festival is popular and the affordable ones fill up quickly.
BIG PLUS: The atmosphere. Even if you’re not in an artsy mood or don’t feel like concert hopping, you can wander around the little towns and still have a taste of the relaxed atmosphere that this island seems to breathe.
TIP: Rent a bike. Though the Dutch public transport system is great, this is not the same on the islands. Cycling is not only your cheapest option but it also allows you to explore unique routes (and give you a workout!)

For more information on Oerol festival visit their website.


ROCK WERCHTER

Sunset at Rock Werchter

139.000 people being mesmerized by Elbow while the sun is setting. This is paradise!

As a Belgian festival, this one technically doesn’t really belong in this list. But leaving it out would feel like I was doing one my favorite festivals of all time a great injustice. And since it’s just a train ride away, who cares that it’s in Belgium!

While the festivals above all cover theater, art or film, this festival is all about the music. Don’t let the name of the event fool you, the line up is always varied and balances out different genres from rock to alternative, from drum and bass to dubstep. As one of the biggest festivals in Europe, you can be sure they attract major headlines. Last year I danced my ass off at JUSTICE, stood in awe for Elbow and fell asleep right before Pearl Jam, for which I’ll never forgive myself!

Rock Werchter is the one festival I go to every year, so if you see me walking around, say hi!

There are only 3 stages, so you won’t have to exhaust yourself running from one end of the festival grounds to the other, hoping to catch the last few notes of Florence and the Machine. Though the festival itself only lasts until 3 am or so, you could easily pull an all-nighter on the camping site or in the Werchter festival street, which is full of little beer stalls and people looking to have a good time. At about 200 euro’s, tickets aren’t cheap, especially when you get the additional €18 camping ticket. But for 4 full days of great music, fun people and some relaxing in the sun, I’d say it’s totally worth it.

werchter banana outfit

Gotta love the Belgians

WHEN: It’s usually in the first weekend of July and lasts for 4 days. The dates for 2013 are July 4, 5, 6, 7
WHERE?: Rock Werchter is named after the town where it is held every year. Look for “festivalterrein Werchter”. You could take a train to Leuven and take the free shuttle service from there.
WHO?: Almost every year, I’m amazed by their fantastic line up. Last year they hosted Pearl Jam, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, JUSTICE, Jack White, The Cure and many, many more!
WARNING: Try and prevent the GIANT queues by arriving one day early.
BIG PLUS: If you have a ticket to Rock Werchter, train travel to and from Leuven is free! This only counts for the Belgian part of your journey, so if you’re coming from the Netherlands you’d still have to buy a ticket to the last Dutch station before the border (usually Roosendaal)
TIP: If you love the festival by day, but prefer to get some sleep at night, try camping A0. It’s close to the festival area, but for some unknown reason it’s quiet every year, in contrast to all the other ones.

For more information on tickets and sales, check out Rock Werchter’s website.

What is your favorite festival? Any recommendations for this festival junkie? Share your story below or tweet me up

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Posted in: Netherlands