‘Today it’s not raining bullets, but sunbeams. Let’s keep it that way!’ shouted Douwe Bob on the main stage of the Bevrijdingsfestival Groningen in front of an enormous crowd. It wasn’t the most profound sentence, but Douwe Bob was right. Without sunscreen, you were doomed on the 5th of May.
The 5th of May is a national holiday in the Netherlands to celebrate liberty. There are many festivals all over the Netherlands and of course, one of the largest is in Groningen! The Bevrijdingsfestival Groningen was held for the first time in 2000. It’s a free event with not only a lot of music, but also art, theatre and plenty of culinary delights. On this day, practically all the citizens of Groningen leave the centre and move towards the Stadspark to spread out their picnic plaids, put on their sunglasses and enjoy the national and international artists from noon till midnight. By the way, did you know that the Bevrijdingsfestival was held mostly on a huge horse racecourse? This year, there were 90.000 visitors. Usually, it becomes a lot quieter in the evening, but this year, due to the fantastic weather, there were still 25.000 visitors at 9 in the evening!
Despite that you would probably have given up on even catching a glimpse of one of your musical heroes because of the overcrowding, it’s absolutely not that hard to stand in front of the stage. Most people were content with a picnic spot in the back. This enabled the diehard fans to reach the main stage easily and enjoy great singers such as Bo Saris and obviously Douwe Bob, who arrived fashionably by helicopter. The gigantic hiphop tent on the other hand, was completely filled when Kraantje Pappie gave his performance. I bet those people didn’t have any sunscreen with them.
Additionally, there were three other stages where you could see dance and other musical styles, such as reggae, dubstep and world music. There was something for everyone! The musician Chet Faker came as a big surprise. This bearded hipster from Australia managed to throw everyone into a trance with his electronic music and his soul voice. The final act of the festival was the band Kakkmaddafakka, a bunch of eccentric Norwegian guys with the funniest dancing backing vocals you’ve ever seen. They will definitely remain the talk of the town for a while.
The best thing about this Bevrijdingsfestival is the open atmosphere. All kinds of people come here; small children who collect empty cups in order to get free coins, hipsters who are completely taken by the music, old people who sing just as loud along with Kraantje Pappie as the others and of course there are many, many students. With an overflow of food stands, you simply cannot be hungry here. If you’ve also bought the ‘peepartout’, you will be perfectly fine. Everyone is chilling on the grass with music from the stage on the background. The only thing that you can do here, is relax.
Around 5 o’clock, gigantic inflatable balls were launched into the crowds, who tried to keep them in the air. The freedom was literally passed on, exactly according to the theme of the day ‘Freedom is something you pass on’.
By Lucia Grijpink