Music makes me happy. As it does most people I’m sure. Particularly live music, I can’t get enough of it. I could stand and listen to a band play for hours on end with a massive smile on my face the entire time. This inevitably led me to love music festivals, and the Dutch sure know how to put on the perfect festival. The thing I love most about the festivals here, aside from the music, is that everyone is happy. As soon as the people enter the festival, they leave all problems and stress behind them. The atmosphere is oozing with positive vibes and everyone becomes friend of all. Violent behaviour is no where to be seen. Only happy and content people, enjoying the moment to the max.
With the worlds best DJ’s being Dutch, such as Tiesto, Hardwell and Armin van Buuren, it’s not surprising that the Dutch love their dance music with a passion. It plays a massive part in their culture. In addition to the many internationally succesful DJs, and rock icons such as Golden Earring, there are so many other Dutch artists that you need to know about, such as Kensington, Blof, Kane, Racoon, Mr.Probz, and Anouk just to name a few.
In true Dutch style, every festival in the Netherlands is a reason to celebrate and party. The music festival season in the Netherlands begins at Easter and runs until Autumn. There are hundreds of festivals throughout the country every year, but I would like to tell you about several of the most popular.
Paaspop, Schijndel (Noord-Brabant)
The first festival of the season, Paaspop is held each year during the long Easter weekend (Paas is the Dutch word for Easter). After the long winter, Paaspop is just what the doctor ordered. This festival has been running for just over forty years. It began as a one day event on Easter Sunday, and was then extended to three days in 2011. There are several large circus tents set up, with live music in each. You can wander from tent to tent, finding the music that you enjoy most from rock to pop to dance and more. Each year this festival attracts around 50,000 visitors.
Pinkpop, Landgraaf (Limburg)
Pinkpop was typically held on the Pentecost weekend (Pinksteren in Dutch, hence the name), but now occurs around the beginning of June. This rock festival would have to be the most famous open-air festival in the Netherlands and Europe’s longest running uninterrupted outdoor pop festival. There are four large stages and this festival attracts very popular artists from all music genres. This festival now runs for three days (Sat-Mon) and there is space for 60,000 attendees per day. They decided to only sell 60,000 tickets for each day to prevent overcrowding due to the popularity of the festival. In the last forty years, Pinkpop tickets have sold out over twenty times. There are also four large camp sites giving enough room for around 50,000 campers to stay and party on until the end! You can buy day tickets or three day passes.
Parkpop, The Hague (South Holland)
This pop music festival is an unusual one, as it is free! It takes place annually in the Zuider park on the last Sunday of June. In 2015, Parkpop celebrated it’s 35th anniversary and up until recently, it was the largest free pop festival in Europe (today that is Przystanek Woodstock in Poland). Parkpop nowadays attracts on average 200,000 visitors! Yet it doesn’t feel overcrowded thanks to the fact that the festival is spread out across the large park, with two to three main stages. My husband and I have been four times; one year there were 350,000 attendees! Every year, Parkpop is a great success with a great atmosphere for both young and old. The sun is usually always shining for this festival, and what’s better than listing to some good music in the sunshine, with a cold beer in your hand? It will cost you nothing to go after all, so what’s stopping you?
Dance Valley, Velsen-Zuid (North Holland)
Love dance music? Then a visit to the Dance Valley festival is a must. Held every year in August for the last 21 years, this is the oldest dance festival in the Netherlands and one of the top dance festivals in Europe. This festival, located between Haarlem and Beverwijk, conjures up various dance music styles. While Dance Valley is a pure dance-music event, it caters to a wide audience by not limiting itself to a specific style though it’s heart (as with most Dutch events) is trance. The main stage is reserved for the big names in mainstream dance music. There are also up to a dozen secondary, smaller stages dedicated to styles such as electro, Eurodance, hardstyle and experimental. Dance Valley is also a three day event with camping available. As they say, “We provide the sounds, you provide the energy!”.
Lowlands, Biddinghuizen (Flevoland)
This festival is so much more than a music festival. Although the main focus is on music – rock, pop, dance, hip hop and alternative – Lowlands also offers indoor and outdoor cinemas, theatre, cabaret, dancers, and literature. This three day music and performing arts festival has been held each year in August since 1993. Lowlands is attended by around 55,000 visitors, spread over 200 acts and more than ten stages. The majority of stages are inside huge tents – insurance against the Netherlands climate – with the main stage’s tent being approximately the size of a football field.
I realise that there are so many more festivals in the Netherlands than those above, these are just a few. What festival is your personal favourite? Which artist did you see live that remains as your all time highlight to date?
Unfortunately, I did not wear ear protection in my teens and twenties, and now have tinnitus in one ear. But I will continue to enjoy live music (with earplugs) and plan to attend another festival this month.
Keep on enjoying the music!