Today’s journey from 16th century Gouda cartoons to modern Zwolle stained glass superheroes starts in Leiden. For a team activity during the Leidens Ontzet I was looking for unique places and objects. Research brought me in the St John of Gouda. There was a huge stained glass window depicting the Relief of Leiden. Why it was there and not in Leiden I will tell you later. For now picture yourself in the St John and think of a comic book.
Tall, direct and often – extremely- extravert. The Dutch are not known for being refined, courteous or even humble. Dutch style is sober. In every day life you’ll hardly ever find the ground covered with a red carpet in front of you . Fortunately we have a great Dutch tradition on Pentecost. On this bank holiday you can live your fairytale. See what it’s like to live like a king. Several estates and a few magical castles in South Holland and in other Dutch regions open their doors to the public. A day to dive in a world of glamour and exciting history.
Like many events and festivals in the Netherlands the magical castles in South Holland, open on Whit Monday can best be reached by bike or foot. The organisation has set out a few cycle routes. The estates and castles are beautifully connected through parks and polders.
Many estates and castles organise small activities. Guided tours, dance workshops, artillery lessons and locally produced food & drinks. As all these Dutch castles have beautiful gardens a little picnic is always a good idea.
Opening hours and program for Whit Monday, 5 June 2017 can be found on the website of Dag van het Kasteel – Day of the Castle-.
It’s a tradition of my own. When heavy grey clouds make autumn days gloomy I turn to the magic of light. Christmas lights in Holland city centres are little crisps, they make me feel at home. But, what really ignites the fire within me are the different light festivals. The November Light Festival Utrecht is like entering a feelgood fairytale.
(updated 18 October 2017)
During the November Light Festival Utrecht the city celebrates its patron saint Sint Maarten, in English known as Saint Martin. The celebration of previous years was a big success, which is why the city organises different activities for the entire family again this year. All week long.
I was completely enchanted. A giant lantern in the shape of Saint Martin himself led a long lantern parade. Children, their parents and members of different organisations followed with unique lanterns in all sizes and shapes. They didn’t just walked through the streets: they sang, danced and their enthusiasm was so contagious that many joined the festivities. By seeing, hearing and living this November Light Festival Utrecht my inner happiness manifested in an all giving radiant smile. All of Saint Martin’s friends and fans united in the small courtyard of the St Catharijne convent. Here they sang songs about being together, being merciful and sharing with those in need, the exact same virtues connected with Saint Martin. In 2017 this light parade takes place on Saturday evening 4 November.
The November Light Festival Utrecht or Saint Martin’s celebrations takes place from 3 till 12 November 2017
More information on all activities can be found on http://sintmaartenutrecht.nl/sint-maartensviering/programma
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It wasn’t supposed to get all the attention, but somehow it did. A small café by the harbour became the core of the Vlaggetjesdag Scheveningen Challenge. This is how it happened.
Celebration of the Dutch New Herring
The new herring catch of the season calls for a typical Dutch celebration. A typical Dutch celebration calls for a challenge by Verita’s Visit. So there we were, me and a bunch of international minded people, at the harbour of Scheveningen with just one mission: find out what Vlaggetjesdag Scheveningen was all about and if it was more than Dutch new herring.
King William and Madonna at Vlaggetjesdag
The participants had no idea what to expect, there were question marks all over their faces when we met at the Scheveningen library. As there was some drizzle outside that was expected to turn into heavy rainfall, we headed inside for a short introduction. The given information could be used during the challenge. King William, Madonna, the painter Mesdag and of course the Dutch herring, also known as Hollandse Nieuwe all dropped by in this introduction.
the go with the flow festival challenge
Exactly at the moment the rain stopped, the participants, now divided in teams, were off to the first location in the Scheveningen harbour where they had to answer a question and complete a creative challenge. Now, finding your way in a local festival is quite a challenge by itself, so at first all teams were a bit lost. By the time they had done two or three challenges they got the hang of it. They somehow realized the best thing to do was to just go with the flow, dive into the festivities and have fun.
Enjoy the local atmosphere and get social with a local
The best thing on local festivals like Vlaggetjesdag Scheveningen is the atmosphere, everyone is relaxed and it’s easy to make contact with locals or visitors. Just like in the Leidens Ontzet Treasure Hunt the participants of the Vlaggetjesdag Scheveningen Challenge had to step out of their comfort zone and get social with a local.
Sharing Experiences during Herring & Corenwijn tasting
At the end of the Scheveningen Vlaggetjesdag challenge we all gathered at Restaurant de Dagvisser. In this small café by the harbour we tasted 4 exquisite herring dishes with 4 types of Corenwijn. All teams shared their experiences there. When I asked them why they all had chosen the song ‘Het kleine café aan de haven’ for one of the challenges they all responded in unison: “Because it was the shortest!”
Small cafe by the harbour of Scheveningen
Athough they were all enjoyed, it was not the Hollandse Nieuwe, the fishers’ boats, the stands demonstrating the local crafts or the men and women in traditional clothing, it was a small café by the harbour that became the core of the Vlaggetjesdag Challenge edition 2016.