Delft & Gouda light festival: winter in Holland

The Delft & Gouda light festival are two charming December events in Holland. They take place in the historical city centre and put their own unique local culture in the spotlight.

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Typical Gouda in stained glass windows

There’s a lady with a white bun. Find her. She knows everything about the Gouda windows. I enter the St John church in search of typical Gouda in stained glass windows.

make your own Gouda church  Verita's Visit workshop kerk bouwenGroup activity in the longest church of Netherlands

It’s Wednesday morning. A few rays of sunlight found their way through the clouds and now shine on the red-white shutters of the Gouda city hall. While I spot a LEGO version of the church, a woman with white trousers and red jacket swirls her small group of tourists through the alley. I follow them to their, no, our destination.  As the group swarms into the St John, I stop at the counter.

Teambuilding typical Gouda in the stained glass windows

I make myself tall as the longest windows in the church (20m)  and say: “I’m organising a team building event on Dutch culture ánd diversity and want to include the stained-glass stories of the St John church. Can you tell me what the most typical Gouda in the stained glass windows is?”

Erasmus in Gouda

“How Gouda is presented, you mean”, the man behind the desk replies, while you see how he’s trying to formulate the perfect answer. The man clearly likes to think along: “John the baptist is the patron saint of the city Gouda. All through the city you see the colors red and white. Red for his suffering and white for purity. You can find the city’s coat of arms – red and white- in several of the Gouda windows. The glasses in the choir tell the story of John the Baptist’s life.”

 

The man puts his thumb and indicative finger on his chin and thinks out loud, nodding towards the most modern glass. “Of course this stained glass window is quite abstract, but it is representing the beliefs of Erasmus. The humanist was born in Gouda, his father was a priest in this church. If you really want to know what is typical Gouda in the Gouda glasses, look for the lady with the white bun. She’s a guide and can tell you all you want to know about the windows.

 Verita's Visit Leiden Gouda group tour groepsuitje
Leidens Ontzet - Relief of Leiden depicted in stained glass Gouda church

Gouda Glasses and Leiden team event

Every time I visit the St John, I run to one stained-glass window. That has to do with my passion for the Leidens Ontzet and the team event on Dutch culture I once organised in the city of Leiden.  The creation of this customised teambuilding activity has priority now. I enter the church and I immediately see ms Kraal, the lady with the white bun. She’s passionately explaining the story of one of the Gouda windows to a couple of visitors. The scene is so intimate I fear to intrude and break the serene atmosphere. My excitement to find the answer to my quest is far bigger though and in a stutter I begin my question:

“The man behind the counter told me you know everything about these stained glasses. What is typical Gouda in the stained glass windows?”

The Night Watch of the St John church

Ms Kraal looks over her glasses at me. “There nothing typical Gouda in the stained glass windows”, she replies. “But,” as she goes on after seeing my disappointment. “Many of the Gouda glasses have a connection with the biblical humanism, the teaching  of Erasmus. And Erasmus was an important figure for Gouda and for the Netherlands.” For her, window 15 is the Night watch of the St John church. She places her hand on an imaginary hand: “John the Baptist doesn’t baptise Jesus in the traditional way…”

 Verita's Visit Gouda Erasmus cultuur groepsuitje lokaal group tour event culture

I try to listen to her, but find myself to eager to run to the stained glass window and see for myself. I say my thankyous and goodbyes and Ms Kraal gives me one more tip: window 7. This is not your ordinary presentation of the Last Supper. This is a real conversation. The focus is not on the dinner or the characters, but on the lively interaction between the characters. Ow, I’m excited to see for myself!

Humanism in thought bubbles & speech balloons

While the orgue plays a tune I recognise, but can not put a name on, I sit in front of window 15. 10 minutes, half an hour. I listen to the audioguide and see what Ms Kraal explained. John the Baptist doesn’t look at Jesus and baptises him. He looks up and listens to God. His words come down in a ray of light that runs down to the holy ghost. It’s the dove that represents him.

Gouda group activity uitje vrienden familie bedrijf  Verita's Visit

I’ve fallen in love with window 16 before as that does have a typical Dutch  element: the landscape. The brothers Crabeth, who made this glass and 14 & 15 which together form a tryptich, used the countryside around Gouda for the landscape. Now that I see the full story of these 3 glasses, I know I have found the answer to my quest. I’ve found typical Gouda in the stained glass windows ánd typical Dutch elements. Now I only need to think of a creative assignment to include this in the team building event on Dutch culture and diversity....


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Teambuilding location near The Hague

Team building activity in Gouda lakes

From 16th century Gouda cartoons to modern Zwolle stained glass superheroes

 


Holland greenhouse tomato facts

Some Holland greenhouse tomato facts to prepare for your visit to the Dutch horticulture hotspot. Just a few basics on the tomato plant and the vegetable itself.

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Family Holland cheese making & windmill Leiden

A Mexican family with a passion for cheese made several stops on their Euro trip. After their workshop of parmigiano cheese making in Italy they came to the Netherlands. I took them for a workshop fresh Holland cheese making and windmill visit in Leiden area. A tasty experience!

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Halloween in Holland - pumpkin competition

Some hollow it out, carve it and use it as Halloween decoration . Others use it in the kitchen and make fabulous curries or soup out of it. Farmers and vegetable growers use it for a contest. It is almost Halloween in Holland and the giant pumkin competion has left its trace in the Dutch countryside.

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custom made bike tour castles Hague kasteel op maat gemaakte tour Haag Verita's Visit

Hague castle event venue once a brewer's farm

There's a The Hague castle event venue, that was once was a brewer's farm. Jan, son of a  golf club maker made money brewing beer. On an estate the size of 7 rugby fields he built a farmhouse. Now, when you walk in the dense estate's forest it is not a farmhouse that's hidden from sight.

custom made bike tour castles Hague kasteel op maat gemaakte tour Haag Verita's Visit

Delft brewer's fortune

Jan Pieterszn. Colff doesn't want to follow his father's footsteps and make golf clubs. He does what many do in his days and opens a  brewery.  In de Witte Hoefijsser  - In The White Horseshoe-  is right next to the canal  in Voorstraat 2 in Delft. Two centuries later, in 1770, his grandson Pieter Maartenszn.  enjoys great fortune. He adds Hoeffijser to his name and replaces his great grandfather's 'Colffmaekerswoning' - house of a golf club maker- . Pieter proudly calls the new building 'House of Hoeffijser'.  It comprises a mansion surrounded by a canal and a small farmer's house. To make sure outsiders understand the difference between mansion and farmer's house the first is referred to as Large Horseshoe.

The woman and the Dutch estate

Mid 19th century brickmanufacturer Cornelis Schiffer van Bleyswijk renovates the whole estate and dedicates it to his wife Suzanna de Wildt. The Large Horseshoe estate is now De Wiltenburg, later known as Wittenburg. It still is not a Hague castle event venue, but this will change. At the turn of the 20th century an esquire knocks on the door and buys estate De Wittenburg.

custom made tour castles Hague kasteel op maat activiteit Haag Verita's Visit
Front side castle De Wittenburg

Wittenburg becomes a castle near Hague

Fashion changes with time.  Esquire Helenus Martinus Speelman has high demands when it comes to the design of his new house. His architect Johannes van Nieukerken has to make several designs before Helenus finally approves the design.   This is the moment the brewer's farm, the brickmanufacturer's house becomes the castle near Hague.  Parts of demolished houses in Amsterdam and The Hague form the castle.  When his mansion is almost finished and the tower is built, Helenus tells the workers to remove tower and upper floor. Still not happy with the result, he asks his friend, also promoter of the interests of Dutch castles, for advice. The upper floor and tower are rebuilt.

The Hague castle event venue & hotel

What was once a brewer's farm is now a The Hague castle event venue.  Royalty, ministers and corporates have been coming to this stately 4 star hotel and event locationfor ages. With the opening of the new restaurant, Sophie, named after the wife of Helenus you can now also enjoy the estate's tranquility  during a lunch, high tea or dinner in De Wittenburg.

side event location Hague Haag locatie personeelsuitje Verita's Visit
Lime tree lane towards castle near Hague

Explore the estate and it's surrounding

One extra tip: Explore the park which is full of monuments and monumental trees. From different sides you'll find great sneek peaks on the castle, its pond and outside terrace. When you you enter estate De Witteburg via the original lime lane you'll see the estate's border monument with the initials of Helenus.

History tour nature Hague geschiedenis activiteit natuur Den Haag Verita's Visit
Initials H.M.S. on estate's border monument

You can also reach this Dutch castle by bike. There is an amazing cycle route from The Hague to Leiden that passes several estates in this part of Holland. Some, like this castle near Hague are hard to spot in spring and summer due to the lush monumental trees.

The Hague castle event venue sneak peek

 


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Royal The Hague Estate De Horsten

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Sources used:

 

http://www.colf-kolf.nl/1450-1700/8/details.htm

https://www.patriesvandorst.nl/over-ons/kasteel-de-wittenburg/

http://www.kasteleninzuidholland.nl/Pages/Wittenburg.htm

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasteel_De_Wittenburg

https://www.buitenplaatseninnederland.nl/wassenaar-de-wittenburg.html

https://www.restaurantsophie.nl/

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC3VVP4_naar-het-kasteel?guid=c1c9eeb7-8e4c-4aec-8127-21bf8a0b77fb

https://www.wassenaar.nl/vrije-tijd-wassenaar/landgoederen_3866/

https://www.cipvw.nl/monumenten/133-buitenplaats-de-wittenburg.html

http://www.wittenburg.nl.transurl.nl/historie-kasteel-de-wittenburg/

 


Flower Parade Netherlands 2022 - When & Where

In spring it's time for the Flower Parade Netherlands 2022. The name in Dutch is Bloemencorso Bollenstreek.  The flower decorated floats follow a route around Keukenhof. In this post you read when the Bulb Flower Parade takes place and where you can watch it.

When does the spring flower parade Netherlands 2022 take place?

The Dutch love to celebrate flowers and color. There are many Dutch flower parades and fortunately they all take place at a different time. Every season has its own flower. The Zundert Flower Parade Netherlands 2022 takes place at the end of summer. Dahlias bloom from August till far into the autumn season. These make the perfect flowers for the Corso in Zundert.

Flower parade special behind scenes tour achter de schermen Bloemencorso dagje uit Verita's Visit

Mid-April the tulips and hyacinths bloom. Tulips are quite fragile and you won't see them that often in the Bloemencorso Bollenstreek. The hyacinths are much firmer. Besides, they can be used in different ways. You can use a full flower with stem or just a single petal as you can see in this post.

In 2022 you can view the famous street parade of the Flower Parade Bulb Region on   Saturday 23 April 2022. Over 20 floats decorated with spring flowers will be participating in the flower procession this year.

We go behind the scenes of the flower parade from Wednesday 20 April till Friday 22 April 2022.  On Friday afternoon there's a special bike tour to the evening flower parade.  Want to join her on a tour, celebration or just for a visit behind the scenes?   Contact  Verita's Visit Holland for more information.

Flower parade special behind scenes 4 hour tour achter de schermen Bloemencorso mid dagje uit Verita's Visit

Where can I see the Bulb Flower Parade Netherlands 2022?

My tip of the day: go see this evening flower parade on Friday 22 April.  It's amazing and not so crowded. The nicely scented and colorfully decorated floats leave the huge hall around 2 PM. They head for Noordwijkerhout. In this cosy town they start the party at noon.

On Saturday morning 23 April around 9:30 AM the bulb flower parade starts in Noordwijk. It follows a route through the flower villages Voorhout, Sassenheim, Lisse, Hillegom, Bennebroek, Heemstede. At 21:30 the spring flower parade Netherlands 2022 ends in Haarlem.

On Sunday 18 April you can see the floats displayed on the market square of Haarlem.

Want to know where to go exactly?  Or looking for more info on the full route & timings?

In 2023 the Bulb Flower Parade will take place in the week of 18 April. 


Recommended tours

https://veritasvisit.nl/en/uitje/leiden-tulip-bike-tour-personal-vip/

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How to get to Keukenhof from Amsterdam by public transport 2022

How to get to Keukenhof from Amsterdam by public transport? It's fairly easy. As explained in this blogpost, the popular flower garden of the Netherlands is located in Lisse. This year, the Keukenhof is open from 24 March till 15 May 2022. In these  weeks,  there are special buses that drop you right in front of the entrance of the famous flower park.

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Maastricht Winter Carnival 2022 - the Netherlands

Experience the Netherlands like you never experienced it before. Head to the southern regions of the Netherlands in February and celebrate the Maastricht Winter Carnival 2022 with the locals. Go below the rivers and indulge yourself in the Burgundian lifestyle.
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Tulip & celebration flower events in the Netherlands Verita's Visit Holland

3 beautiful villages Holland a daytrip away from Amsterdam

Small picturesque towns in the Netherlands, where locals are not used to tourists. Places where you sit on a terrace overlooking a cosy market square and take in typical Dutch daily scenes or see small sailing boats pass by. In these 3 beautiful villages Holland you still experience the authentic Dutch way of life.

 

Plan your stops on your bike ride through the Dutch countryside. It was one of my recommendations in my post on countryside cycling in Holland. The 5 beautiful villages in the Netherlands mentioned in this post definitely deserve a visit and offer great cafés and restaurants for a drink and a bite.

Dutch famous flower village

The first Dutch village is well known for the biggest tulip garden in Europe. Direct busses from Amsterdam airport Schiphol, Haarlem and Leiden drop millions of visitors right in front of the Keukenhof. They visit the flower park, get back on the bus and leave the cute flower village Lisse behind.  It has a cosy town square, called De Vierkant, where different events are organised. From this square you can easily access bulb culture museum De Zwarte Tulp. The St Agatha church around the corner is worth seeing! Love Dutch pancakes or in for Italian pasta? Pick one of the small restaurants in this beautiful village in Holland.

On my flower field bike tours I regularly make a stop at Lisse or any of the other small flower towns near Keukenhof.

Beautful villages Holland
One of the beautiful villages Holland

History of one of the most beautiful villages Holland

For me one of the most beautiful villages Holland, in the greenhouse area, is Naaldwijk. With close to 20.300 habitants it's actually a city, although its compact city centre feels like a village. Naaldwijk is in the heart of the Westland and is famous for its horticulture. You might know the place from Royal Flora Holland, the largest flower auction cooperation. You can find it right outside the city centre, next to a busy highway.  The best kept secret in Naaldwijk is the Kerkstraat, a circular road around the main church. It's for pedestrians and cyclists. There's even a signposted cycle route through this small street. This historical street, decorated with flowers in summer, is very picturesque. Hidden in a corner is a 15th century courtyard with a unique small chapel. On the market square around the corner are plenty of options for food & drinks.

Verita's Visit quaint town near The Hague tour & event Netherlands
Heilig Geesthofje, Naaldwijk

Village with tradition in local products

Flowers need to be transported. Many towns in the surroundings of Delft have a history in the production and transportation of products grown in the greenhouse area. Delft is just a daytrip away from Amsterdam. Not all visitors need a full day in the city of Vermeer, Prince William of Orange and Delftware. If you are visiting Delft and have some time on hands, my tip is to explore Holland by bike and head into the Delft countryside. Besides the typical Dutch landscapes like polders, windmills and canals you'll also pass through authentic and beautiful villages in this part of Holland. One of these pretty towns is Schipluiden. It's a place where many ships transporting goods such as flowers, vegetables and cheese went through. Nowadays you can still see boats on the canal that runs through the centre. The sight of the bridge which is still handdrawn is spectacular. Sit down on one of the terraces along the canal for a coffee or one of the exquisite dishes made from locally grown products.

Delft family activity familie uitje Verita's Visit

 


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On a Bike to a Greenhouse in South Holland

Amsterdam Keukenhof Alternative Day Program