We were only planning on staying in Utrecht for 3 days.
But when we checked into our Airbnb, the host said, “You know Thursday [the day we were planning to leave] is a holiday in the Netherlands, right? There’s a huge festival in the park with lots of stages and free concerts all day.”
Ummmm no. We didn’t know that.
But hearing “huge festival” and “park” and “free concerts” in the same sentence was enough to convince us that we should stay another night.
And luckily our Airbnb host wasn’t just making up random holidays to have us book her place for an extra night. Because when we left the apartment on May 5th, it was pretty clear that it was, indeed, a holiday.
We did a little bit of research to find out that Bevrijdingsdag (aka Liberation Day) is a yearly celebration to commemorate the end of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands following WWII. (Yay freedom and peace!)
We wandered around our neighborhood street party for a bit, and then decided that we wanted to check out the official city festival in Park Transwijk too.
So here’s me, trying to be festive for Bevrijdingsfestival with a tiny travel wardrobe.
(Apparently I decided that fun earrings, a face tattoo, and an off-the-shoulder shirt were the way to do that.)
The city encourages everyone to arrive to the festival by bicycle or public transport. And since we had bikes, we rode about 30 minutes from our apartment to the park.
Right as we pulled up, the absurd number of bicycles should have given us a clue as to how many people were at this event. Every sidewalk within about a 5 mile radius of the park looked like this:
Ummmm. Back in the US, there have been times when I couldn’t find my car in a parking lot that labeled each aisle with a color, number, and letter, so I was slightly terrified that we would park our bikes somewhere and then never see them again. (How on earth would we ever remember where we left them?? Oh yeah, I parked my bike by… that tree. Next to that other tree. Right by the other 5,492 bikes. So. I’ll totally remember that.)
There was also a pretty long line to get in. Which was understandable, since it was a free event (with moderately famous Dutch bands performing) and they were checking everyone’s bags at the gate.
But we eventually got inside. And yeah, I would say our Airbnb host’s description was spot on. Essentially, Bevrijdingsfestival is a huge party in a public park with free concerts all day long. Here’s the view from one of the smaller side stages:
And this is the view from the back of the park looking toward the main stage:
SO MUCH FREEDOM AND PEACE 🇳🇱 ✌️
At this time, I’d like to extend a special thanks to our Airbnb host, Wendy, for telling us about this holiday (and not lying to us as part of an elaborate money making scheme).
And just so there’s no cliffhanger – we totally found our bikes at the end of the day!