Christmas in Utrecht: the most festive agenda!

Ahh, Christmas!! It’s that time of the year when you start looking forward to that warm feeling inside, to all the presents that you are going to offer and receive and to all that unbelievable amount of food made by your grandmother!!

Maybe you’ll go back to your home town, but before that you can enjoy some Christmas feeling here in Utrecht! Going around, you might have noticed the Christmas lights on the streets, some proudly announcing the neighbourhood at which you just arrived. If you are looking for some events, here are some awesome suggestions!

  • Knus.

This is the best Christmas event in town! For two full days, the city center becomes a winter wonderland. On Mariaplaats there is a traditional Christmas market, where you can find locally handmade gifts for you and your family, and on Streekmart you can eat like a local. Through the city there will be several street performances; maybe you will find yourself listening to a poetry reading! Come with your friends and join around the log fire, with a hot chocolate or a mulled wine to warm your cold hands. Pro tip: there will also be ice skating! Knus. 16 and 17 December, several locations in Utrecht , free.

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  • Country and Christmas Fair

If you feel like going to the beautiful Kasteel de Haar, I suggest that you go there around the time of their Christmas market. There you will be transported into a magical land of Christmas! Besides being able to visit the castle and its lovely gardens, you will find in the market exclusive homemade Christmas gifts, local products and home decorations. There will also be a lounge terrace and a choir singing, to help spread the Christmas cheer! Country & Christmas Fair 21 to 26 November, Kasteel de Haar (Haarzuilens), 16€ (online purchase)

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  • Fonteyn Festival

Are you fond of wine? In Janskerkhof you will come across this wine festival, with 60 different types of wine to choose from! Also several restaurants take part in the festival, providing food during the festival, so you can go on drinking! Good music, provided by live band shows and DJ’s, will guarantee that you will have a very Christmas-y evening! Fonteyn Festival 15 to 17 December, Janskerkhof, 4€ (mandatory wine glass purchase)

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  • Ice Skating

And for the star of this list… Ice skating!! If your Christmas doesn’t mean the same to you without it, you are in luck! In the Railway Museum, there will be a skating ring for you to enjoy, and you can rent your ice skates over there! To warm up in the end, you can also get hot chocolate and mulled wine. If you have some extra time, you can also take a tour in the museum. Winter Station 23 December to 7 January, Spoorweg Museum, 16€ (museum ticket)

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  • Light seeing

If want to know what Utrecht looks like at night, you have a chance to do just that from the highest tower in Utrecht: the one and only Dom Tower! In December, you can buy a special guided tour, where you  will be treated to the breath-taking view of the Christmas street lights, shining brightly in the streets and canals of Utrecht! In the end, a warming cup of hot chocolate is included. The tours take 90 minutes and start at 20:30. Lichtjes Kijken 13 December to 5 January (scattered days in this period), Dom Toren, 12,5€ (reservation online)

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King’s Day: An International Perspective

 

 

“You must experience King’s day!” – September, Orientation day, Dutch Culture speech.

Before the Birthday-yay

From the moment I had arrived here I was informed of this strange, energetic and orange day. I saw photographs taken in the streets of the Netherlands blanketed with people dressed in orange, the canals dotted with their orange party boats and orange food everywhere. The week leading up to King’s day I ate orange doughnuts, I saw orange attire and the boats prepped for their orange parties.

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King’s Day!

After partying the night before in Utrecht (photo above), coming home at 5 am, it was King’s day! And it truly was a day of energy, singing, dancing and peppered with orange! The streets had been cleaned of any evidence from the night before, or perhaps the rain rinsed it all away. The rain, I would like to think, was a blessing to prepare the grounds for what was to come with the many beer spillages and street food crumbs. Every square stood the main stage filling the space with a variety of music genres, live music and otherwise. Dutch, world food vans, and huts surrounded these areas creating a dance floor for people to gather, eat, drink and party. A surge of energy zipped around Utrecht as the festival was blooming – ready for the coming hours of complete Kingly appreciation. The sun made its presence just in time for the ESN King’s Day Boat party.

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ESN King’s Day Boat Party!

Orange flags – check. Orange international students – check. Beer and snacks – check. Face paint for those without Dutch flags on their cheeks – check. The interior of the boat was a wave of orange décor. The tables were garnished with Heineken and snacks. Proudly, the ESN flag was presented on the side of the boat. International students were dressed in orange garments, wigs, hats, glasses, fake tattoos and any other orange accessory they could place on their body – completing the ultimate orange theme for total appreciation of King’s day! Once seated and on our way around Utrecht canals, the music began, more beer was presented, everyone was laughing and joking together and the atmosphere was full of spirit and appreciation of the Dutch King. Many other party boats, full of orange and fun, sailing past, waving and cheering, and contributing to the fantastic experience of King’s day so far. The boat party was a total success, a great attribution to the experience of King’s day and a fantastic start.

On exiting the boat, the town was beaming with even more orange than before! The streets were crowded, music was humming from all corners, the ‘free markets’ were up and running. On dancing to live bands, eating an array of food, and indulged in the Dutch culture of King’s day it is safe to say the day lived up to expectations and well and truly exhausted our bodies from the festivity and celebrations.

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Interviews

What follows is a few remarks of King’s day from international students studying here in Utrecht:

“I’ve never been one to get my hands dirty with public holidays, but it’s difficult to avoid the infectiousness of King’s Day. Being new to the Netherlands, I had no idea what to expect, so, donning a head of artificial orange hair, my friends and I set off to Amsterdam, our hopes and horizons begging to be expanded. It’s safe to say we weren’t disappointed. Streets lined with thousands of people, bodies emblazoned with every form of neon orange clothing imaginable, and music pumping through the crowd, the spirit of King’s Day was truly alive and well.

To celebrate, my friends and I decided to attend a King’s Day festival just outside the city, where a number of DJs would be playing a range of different music. Before long, the drinks were flowing and limbs were flailing in a fashion vaguely reminiscent of dance. The event, though small, had an appreciated sense of intimacy that is rare for festivals, and one that meant it wasn’t too difficult to find the friend that inevitably loses themselves in the crowd after a few too many beers. A package well worth the money, in my opinion.

For me, King’s Day embodied everything I’d hoped for from studying abroad. Often, parties can be repetitive, but King’s Day offered more than just a few drinks and a bit of dancing. It gave me an insight into a huge part of what it means to be Dutch, and the values and culture that is so important to the Netherlands, and what more can you ask for! This might have been my first King’s Day, but it certainly won’t be my last!” – Tyler – England

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“I enjoyed the idea of the second-hand stuff. Because of these stalls, I walked into different parts of Utrecht which I would not have done before, I found this quite cute. I enjoyed the ESN King’s boat!” –  Vivian – HongKong

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“Kingsday was a spark of orange in everyday life. Utrecht buzzed with life with people from all over the world gathered together to celebrate the king’s birthday. If you haven’t done it already I strongly recommend you to experience this event at least once in your lifetime.

You won’t regret it!” – Giorgenzo – Italy


“what I really enjoyed was the public events, how everybody was out on the streets and the whole society kicked back and enjoyed the night/day. It was just good fun getting dressed up and getting drunk, and a good reason to wear luminous shades of orange for the first time in my life!” – Angus – New Zealand


‘This was my second Kingsday in the Netherlands, but it was definitely an unforgettable one! I went with my friends to the Kingsland Festival, where the cheerful crowd and great music created such a good vibe. If you wanted to party and dance all day, this was the perfect place to be!’ – Una- Croatia

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“Amazing atmosphere throughout the city! I loved the flee markets and the mini bands that played on the streets! A really enjoyable experience!” – Sian – England

Celebrate Liberation Day at these amazing freedom festivals!

On the 5th of May the entire country goes crazy as it will be Liberation Day! This day, following remembrance day on May 4th, is all about celebrating that our country was liberated on the 5th of May 1945 from the second World War, and I assure you, we’re quite good at celebrating our freedom! Throughout the country cost-free festivals are organized to pay a tribute to the freedom we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy.

What are we celebrating?

After five horrific years of war, Nazi Germany surrendered on may 5th 1940, and a state of ecstasy erupted across the entire country. Ever since that joyful day the Netherlands has been celebrating their acquired freedom on this day. It is important to us Dutchies to stay aware of the fact that freedom is not something we can take for granted. On this day we also realize the vulnerability that freedom encompasses. Even though we celebrate our freedom today, we should not forget the suffering of millions of people around the globe due to armed conflicts and suppression. The 5th of May therefore does not only revolve about our freedom, but also about contemplating the people who do not have the opportunity to speak, think and act as they like.

Party with the Dutch

If you want to experience true Dutch happiness with a hint of nationalism you should definitely party with us on this exceptional day! Throughout the day festivities are hosted in various cities across the country. Obviously, Utrecht hosts the most awesome one! With free entrance, cool performances by famous Dutch artists we can ensure you that there will be an amazing vibe. Additionally, you can enjoy the sun, good music and order some food at one of the many food trucks. The location of the festival is Park Transwijk, which is easily reachable by bike or bus. Check out their website for more information. Make sure you don’t miss out on the after-party hosted at Tivoli!

Another famous festival we can recommend you is hosted in Haarlem: Bevrijdingspop Haarlem. With over 150,000 visitors last year, it is  is one of the biggest festivals on Liberation Day in the country, . If you’re up for some sightseeing you should definitely check out both the city of Haarlem and its amazing festival. Many popular Dutch artists are performing such as De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig and Douwe Bob (Check them out on YouTube!).

Music in Amsterdam

Besides the festivals, the National Committee of May 4th and 5th organizes an official Liberation Concert. The concert takes place on the Amstel river in Amsterdam. Every year another orchestra hosts the event. This year the Metropole Orchestra, led by chef-choir master Jules Buckley. Other Dutch artists will be accompanying the orchestra on this special night. You can enjoy the concert from the docks alongside the river. If you’re not up for a trip to Amsterdam, it is also possible to watch the event on national television (NPO 1, 20:30h).

Don’t hesitate and come celebrate our freedom on this important date. We honor our freedom by reminiscing on what we have, and what other people around the globe should also deserve. How do you celebrate freedom in your country? Let us know in the comments and pass on that peaceful sensation!

Passionate about theatre? Check out the SPRING Festival!

Hooray, spring is finally here! The sun is shining and everyone is slowly but surely getting ready for the upcoming festival season. What probably comes to your mind is some good music and partying with your friends during the day. We indeed love this kind of festival, but have you ever considered checking out a more alternative and artistic festival? The SPRING Festival definitely offers a different atmosphere and is a great choice for every art lover!

What is the SPRING Festival?

The SPRING Festival is an international performance festival held in Utrecht every spring. Nowadays, it is not very easy for choreographers and theatre makers to attract a big audience. However, the SPRING Festival  offers a great opportunity for theatre creators and choreographers to present their work. The festival consists of a variety of shows, premieres, interviews and installations combining theatre, dance, visual art and technology, music and politics, pushing the boundaries of today’s art. Some of the people coming to this festival are the rising star of the international dance world Marlene Monteiro Freitas,the choreographer  Eko Supriyanto who performed with Madonna as well as young Dutch makers Katja Heitmann and Casper Vandeputte.

How can you be part of the SPRING Festival?

If you want to be part of How can you be a part of the SPRING Festival?the festival, feel free to join the SPRING Academy where different artists share their knowledge and experience with students and emerging artists. After the performances, there are different workshops for body and mind where the artists talk about the performances and different topics, as well as discussions about the field of art and its importance in the contemporary world. When it comes to programs for students, the Academy features programs on different educational institutes including the Utrecht University, Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht (HKU), ArtEZ and De Montfort University.What could also be a great experience is contributing to the festival by coming as a volunteer. You get to know all the young and enthusiastic people who organize the festival and you can see performances for free. The atmosphere is really nice, young and energetic!

The time and location of the SPRING Festival

The festival usually lasts for ten days, this year it will take place in the period from the 18th until the 27th of May. The performances take place on different locations, including the Utrecht theatres, centres for the arts, and Neude. The festival heart however is located at the Stadsschouwburg theatre. Overhere visitors, theater makers and artists join each other for a drink, the music stage and the infamous closing party. 

If you want to get more info about the festival, check out their official website and buy your tickets, because we are sure you will not regret a single penny!

King’s Day 2017: the best festivals to check out!

The festival season has not started yet, but spring in the Netherlands means that it’s time to take out your winter savings and purchase a ticket for a King’s Day festival.

For all the new students out there, make sure to save the 27th of April 2017. Because this is the day when the whole country celebrates King Willem Alexander’s birthday and amazing festivals are organized across the country!

Picking one festival amongst so many can be difficult, so we decided to help you a bit and give information about the festivals you should check out!

Kingsland – Amsterdam

Kingsland is one of the biggest festivals everyone is so excited about. No wonder, just take a look at the awesome line-up they present year after year.This year, the stage will belong to Tiësto, Martin Garrix, Sem Vox, Don Diablo, Nervo and many other DJs. If you like crowds, good music and dance, this is a must! The regular ticket costs only 34 euros and you should hurry up with the purchase since it gets sold out quickly!  

Loveland van Oranje – Amsterdam

The Loveland van Oranje offers a unique King’s Day production and the line-up this year includes Dubfire, Steve Rachmad, Alan Fitzpatrick, Rod, Secret Cinema, Sam Paganini and other performers who will make this day unforgettable. The festival is located at the green Meerpark, so make sure to check out methods of transport because the train station Amsterdam Science Park will be closed during the day. A regular ticket costs 20 euros, but be smart and save some money by buying a group ticket together with your friends.

538Koningsdag – Breda

If you would like to go somewhere other than Amsterdam, Breda is a great choice. The first names of the line-up were recently announced:Dua Lipa, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano and Lucas& Steve will start a party in Brabant! The ticket sales starts on the 31st of March, so you still have some time to check out the artists. The tickets are sold for only 22 euros, be sure to get one because a great atmosphere is guaranteed!

King Dance 2017 – Zwolle

You and your friends still can’t decide if you would rather dance to some house or hardstyle at King’s Day? Then attending the King Dance in Zwolle is the best option, because artists from both genres will perform! The line-up for house music consists of Yellow Claw, Dirt Caps, Lady Bee, while artists such as E-Force, Adaro, Act of Rage and Titan vs. Requiem will play in the hardstyle area. Over 25,000 party freaks will join the festival and you can purchase your ticket for only 15 euros!

 

In for the scariest ride of your life? Visit these Dutch amusement parks!

Every country has them – amusement parks. They’re a great way to cut loose after a hard exam week, or to just go to relax and create those one-of-a-kind memories with your friends. Screaming together in a roller-coaster does give you the perfect opportunity to bond with your new Erasmus mates. Therefore, we’re providing you with a list with the JoCo’s favorite Dutch amusement parks! These are definitely a must-visit when living in the Netherlands.

De Efteling

This is the most beautiful amusement park you’ll find in the Netherlands (and beyond, in my opinion). The theme of the park is all about fairytales, with a special ‘Fairytale Forest’ they offer a most enchanting experience. Another classic is the ‘Dream Flight’, an amazing attraction with gorgeous decorations that takes you to a place where unicorns and forest animals come to life. But the park doesn’t only offer pretty attractions, there’s plenty to do for the true daredevils . The newest addition to the Efteling’s rollercoaster arsenal, is the Baron 1898 that drops you 37.5 meter into a mineshaft, so not for the faint-hearted! The Efteling definitely is a one-of-a-kind, amazing park, that attracts everyone; whether you’re the adventurer, the romanticus or like to live a fairytale.

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‘The Flying Dutchman’ (Efteling)

Walibi Holland

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‘El Condor’ (Walibi)

This one is for the real thrill-seekers out there. Walibi offers at least ten thrill-rides, which you should definitely stay very far from if you’re afraid of heights. One of the most spectacular roller coasters is the ‘Lost Gravity’ that opened just recently. This crazy and extreme ride takes you around intense corners, a maximum of airtime and two mind-blowing inversions. Hold on tight for the scariest ride of your life! This park is without doubt a good option if you want to overcome your fears or if you just want to blow off some steam by screaming as loud as you can in its exhilarating attractions.

Duinrell

I’m guessing you’ve never been launched into the water with more than 40km/h, have you? Then I’d advise you to visit the Tiki Pool, a unique and tropical swimming pool with many many water slides and spectacular attractions. So you might ask, where is this spectacle of a pool? Well, the park Duinrell not only hosts the pool but offers much much more! Duinrell is a park that offers scary rides but also a lot of other fun activities and attractions, making it easier to go to with a group of people with different interests. The park is beautifully located near the forest and the Dutch dunes, and is easy to reach by public transport. This is your chance to experience an unforgettable day in, and outside the pool.

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‘Tikibad’ (Duinrell)

Madurodam

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‘Utrecht’ (Madurodam)

If your parents are visiting for the weekend you might have trouble deciding which highlights of the Netherlands you’d want to show them. Madurodam might be the perfect solution! It offers you a miniature version of the Netherlands’. The park allows you to view and discover true Dutch heritage in a fun and interactive way. The park is arranged around three themes: City Centre, Water World and Innovation Island. You’ll also get a peek into various characteristic and eccentric cities in the Netherlands. This is definitely a perfect day out if your parents are in town!

So now that you’ve read all about the great amusement parks the Netherlands have to offer. What are you waiting for? Treat yourself to some great memories here in the Netherlands!

 

Visit the Knüss Winterfest!

After a successful first edition last year, Utrecht will transform again into a wonderful winter paradise. Come and explore in the weekend of the 9th ,10th and 11th of December the winter hospitality of Utrecht with Christmas markets and music. Im pleased to tell you more about the 3 most important must-sees of upcoming weekend.

Allerhande Christmas Festival

The Spoorweg Museum will be transformed into the Allerhande Christmas Festival. A festive event for young and old entirely dedicated to nice food and delicious drinks. At the festival you get endless inspiration for your perfect Christmas dinner. With delicious recipes, food-trends, workshops, live cooking sessions, entertainment and plenty of inspiration for Christmas decorations and table styling.

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Regional Christmas market at Mariaplaats

In a wintry atmosphere you can enjoy the most delicious products with Dutch roots. Try many goodies from our own region and country, but also from a bit further away across the borders, because passionate farmers, growers, beekeepers, bakers and brewers are coming from everywhere in Europe. Take a look and see which products farmers grow by themselves and find out what motivated entrepreneurs in- and outside the Netherlands to sell their products in The Netherlands. Also ask these true lovers and connoisseurs to tell about their special products, because food is so much better if you know where it comes from. Not a chance you will miss this very social, friendly and above all very tasty experience!

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Fonteyn wine festival

This year the Janskerkhof will be transformed into a big wine festival, where more than 80 different wines are represented, combined with great food and live music. Wineries and wine cafes in the region of Utrecht will present their range of wines. Several mobile kitchens will serve food, varied from classic to fast food and make different wine-food combinations possible. Whether you come with your family, friends or colleagues, this festival will make everyone happy!

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Come and discover the wintry atmosphere of Utrecht this weekend!

Utrecht Festivals : Streekbierfestival & Le Guess Who

The ESN Utrecht JoCo is back with more Utrecht insider’s tips to see this week, after a weekend of playing zombies, vampires, Harley Quinns and Jokers. And since it’s officially Halloween tonight, why not stay in party mode and already start planning your next two weekends? Yes, two weekends, because here’s what’s happening in the upcoming 14 days in Utrecht!

Streekbierfestival – 4/5/6 November 2016

Every year Utrecht hosts the Streekbierfestival, in English the Localbeerfestival, in the cafés of the city center. It’s a golden (literally golden) opportunity to taste a wide variety of the most special local beers from in and around Utrecht. The festival lasts for three days. Talk about a hangover next week Monday morning.
This festival has free entrance, but of course you have to pay for your drinks. Carry some cash with you, just in case (watch out for pickpockets though) the cash machine is down or the café you’re visiting doesn’t have an ATM. All the participating cafés are at walking distance within the city center, which is nice if you need to get some air in between beers. They have come up with a handy solution to let you taste as many beers as possible; you get tasting glasses that are supposed to also help you avoid the hangover… Yeah right. Curious to see which brewers will be represented during the weekend? Here you can find more info about them. And here you can find the list of the 16 cafés that will be happy to serve you a cold one.

You can find more information on their website or on the Facebook page. Mind you, they are both in Dutch (which makes for good practice).

Le Guess Who? – 10/11/12/13 November 2016

After all that beer it’s time for some dancing. We’ve got just the thing for you! Le Guess Who? festival is back in town for their 10th anniversary!

What kind of music are we talking? Well, there is something for everyone. Experimental, collaborative, out-of-the-box, electronic, dance, techno… Actually it’s just 4 days of fun and joy, in every music palace that Utrecht city has available and you can choose to block the whole four days (the pass costs €125,-) or get a ticket for a day (€40,-).

Bands and artists that will perform are often here for the first time or have just started making a name for themselves in the music scene but that only means more fun, more intimate concerts, more time to really enjoy the atmosphere and the opportunity to get to know the artist and his or her sound.

In short, the month of November couldn’t have had a better start with these two events and we hope you will enjoy (at least one of) them as much as we will!

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