Summer is in its last stage and Groningen has had a calm July and August, but awakened the moment the KEI-week started and, of course, now during Bommen Berend! What? Bommen Berend, the Independence Day of Groningen! Ages ago, Groningen battled to be independent from Münster and eventually defeated the invaders on the 28th of August – and that has to be celebrated!
Once upon a time there was a certain Bernhard von Galen who thought that he could conquer Groningen. But the people around here were, just as they’re today of course, very tough in the seventeenth century. Bishop Von Galen had to return to his hometown Münster with only half of his soldiers left. Since that day (the 28th of August) Groningen was a free city. A beautiful story which we still celebrate to its fullest.
The name Bommen Berend is derived from Bernhard von Galen, who used a lot of bombs to attack his opponents (bombs is ‘bommen’ in Dutch). The battle for Groningen’s independence took place a long time ago, so it isn’t surprising that not many people know about this history – especially students! But what does it really matter? Today, actually, everything that matters are the fireworks, the colorful fair at the Grote Markt, and the many parties during Bommen Berend!
Each year Bommen Berend is celebrated in different ways and you can do a lot of typical Dutch activities. The Bommen Berend Festival is held at the horse racetrack, as well as the horse show. The center of the city is brightened by the fair at the Grote Markt and barrel organs. If you want to know more, click here for the full program! And don’t forget, the bars are overloaded with partying crowds, but Bommen Berend is also a really good chance to learn about the city.
For example, you can do a walk through the city guided by a professional guide who tells you everything about Groningen’s history. Unfortunately, the guide will speak Dutch, but then again, a walk along all kinds of old Dutch activities throughout our beautiful city is totally worth it. Because Bommen Berend is a bit like a small version of Kings Day: Do you want to know something about Groningen and party at the same time? Come to Groningen and celebrate Groningens’ Independence Day!
By Benjamin de Bruijn
Photo by Lesley Delano Pieters