Thursday May 5th: Liberation Day!

Only a few days left before yet another national festival: May 5th it’s Liberation day in the Netherlands. On this day, we celebrate the liberation of the country and the end of the Second World War. The biggest celebrations are in Wageningen, a small city where the Germans officially surrendered. However, there is enough to do in Utrecht as well!

First some history…

May 5th is not the only day dedicated to the Second World War. One day before, on May 4th, we Dutchies commemorate all those who died during the war. The focus lies on the Dutch victims, whether they were soldiers, persecuted Jews or civilian casualties, but in a broader sense this day is meant to reflect on war and its impact on people. The Netherlands have been a free country for a long time now, but elsewhere in the world, people are living a war every day. Sometimes, Dutch troops are involved as well. On May 4th, we take a break at 8 pm  (20:00) for two minutes and commemorate the war victims in silence. These two minutes are a sort of private reflection: you can pray for those who died during a specific war, or think about all the people who are still involved in a war somewhere in the world. In general, everyone participates in this respectful silence: trains and busses stop and national television and radio channels interrupt their emissions. Flowers are being laid by the war monument in Amsterdam. If you want to, you can watch this on national television.

Premier Mark Rutte lights the fire of freedom, an annual tradition on May 5th

…then some parties!

While May 4th is all about remembrance, May 5th is dedicated to the celebration of freedom. Throughout the years, the focus  moved from the liberation after the war to freedom in a more general sense: we celebrate that we live in a free and democratic country, without oppression.

Utrecht has its own festivities. For the occasion, park Transwijk (located in Kanaleneiland in the south of the city) is transformed into a festival terrain: there are four stages and a lot of well-known artists will perform all throughout the day. The weather forecast looks promising: 19 ◦C and sunny, perfect festival weather! There is a website specially for this festival, but unfortunately, it is not available in English. However, you can check out who is going to perform when here (“blokkenschema”) and find a map of the terrain here (“festivalplattegrond”).

Then some practical tips and tricks to conclude. The entrance to the festival is free and you don’t have to get tickets in advance, you can just enter the terrain as you please. Beware however that there are probably going to be a lot of people. On the terrain itself, you can get drinks and food, but you can’t pay with money. There are box-offices near the entrance where you can buy coins for 2,75 euros apiece, which you can use to get your drinks. If you bought too many coins, you can bring them back until 11:30 pm (23:30) and get your money back. You can also collect 30 cups and get a coin for free! If you don’t feel like collecting that many cups, please be respectful and chuck your cup away in the designated dustbins. And one last tip: check the weather forecast Wednesday or Thursday morning and prepare for the weather: if the sun is going to shine, don’t forget your sun lotion and sunglasses!

Here’s the link to the festival website. We hope to have informed you sufficiently (if not, feel free to contact us!) and wish you all a sunny and fun Liberation day!


by Tessa Vermeir

The liberation of the Netherlands in 1945

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