Organisation - February 22, 2005

Dutch feast days coming up

Two important celebrations occur during the next two weeks: Koninginnedag on 30 April and Bevrijdingsdag on 5 May.

Koninginnedag (Queen’s day) is the day that the birthday of Queen Beatrix is celebrated, and it is an official holiday. The most important event is the vrijmarkt, a street market where everyone can sell their goods. The Hoogstraat and market square in Wageningen are lined with stalls and blankets on the ground where children and adults lay out their wares: old second hand knickknacks, toys, books, clothes, plant cuttings and homemade cakes. Everything is cheap and you can bargain prices down. If you’re after children’s toys it is worth getting there early in the morning.

Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation day) is when the Netherlands celebrates the end of the Second World War. The dead are commemorated at 20:00 on 4 May. Everyone stops what they are doing and observes two minutes’ silence. Liberation day begins at midnight with the lighting of the ‘liberation torch’ in the 5 Mei Plein in Wageningen, in front of Hotel de Wereld, where the German recapitulation was signed in 1945.

On 5 May itself Wageningen comes alive as thousands of people come for the liberation festival, a day of music throughout the centre of town. Well-known and less well-known bands play everything from blues and salsa to punk and heavy metal. If the weather is dry, the festival is well worth visiting; it starts around midday and continues until late at night. There are also children’s activities in the Emmapark. In the afternoon there is a procession of war veterans who file past Prince Bernhard.

Most shops and offices are closed on both feast days. Supermarkets are often open in the morning, but it is best to check the information in their windows.
Programme for 4/5 May: www.4en5meiwageningen.nl

Yvonne de Hilster

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