On 5 May, hundreds of thousands of residents across the north will celebrate their freedom during three massive – and free – Liberation Day festivals in Groningen, Leeuwarden and Assen. Festival attendees from the northern provinces can check out performances by Triggerfinger, Aurora, Chef’Special, Claw Boys Claw, Jungle by Night, Jett Rebel and many others. The Leeuwarden edition will be the heart of this year’s festivals in light of the Leeuwarden-Friesland Capital of Culture 2018 year.
By Marieke Bos and Matthijs van Houten / Translation by Traci White
Each year, one headliner is the so-called “helicopter act”: an artist who travels to multiple festivals on the same day via helicopter. This year’s featured musician is Dutch rapper Ronnie Flex, who will be taking the stage at all three of the northern festivals.
The annual Liberation Day festival in Groningen will be held in the Stadspark. Dozens of musical acts, such as YouTube sensation Postmodern Jukebox, Belgian band Triggerfinger, Ronnie Flex & Deuxperience and 2manydjs (side project of the Belgian band Soulwax), will perform on six different stages spread out across the park.
Other acts on the programme include Aurora, De Likt, Durand Jones & The Indications, Ten Years Today, and Jungle by Night. Unlike previous editions, this year’s festival will not have an information market for human rights and social activism organisations. The festival, which typically draws around 100,000 visitors, will feature a kid-friendly area with a carousel, fun educational activities and performances. You can check out the full line-up on the Groningen festival’s site.
The Drenthe Liberation Day festival will be held at the Baggelhuizerplas. Last year, 30,000 people turned out for the festival in Assen. This year, festival attendees can enjoy performances by Ronnie Flex, Jett Rebel (renowned for their live shows), Lucas Hamming, Navarone and so-called “farmer rock” band, Mooi Wark.
A playground will be located on site for children, along with the Plein voor de Vrede (Peace Square). Activities focused on the theme “Geef vrijheid door” (“Pass freedom on”) will take place on the festival grounds. Twenty non-profit organisations will be represented at the Plein voor de Vrijheid (Freedom Square), including Amnesty International, the Red Cross, the Central Organisation for Asylum Seekers (COA), citizen rights organisation Prodemos, LGBTQI+ group COC, Meldpuntdiscriminatie (Discrimination Hotline) and veteran’s rights organisation Veteraneninstituut. You can check out the full line-up on the Drenthe festival’s site.
Leeuwarden is the focal point of this year’s Liberation Day festivals due to its status as a European Capital of Culture in 2018. After arriving in the company of dozens of Canadian army jeeps, prime minister Mark Rutte will light the symbolic liberation torch. Portions of the festival will be broadcast on national television.
The Frisian capital city will also have its own Freedom Square and a top notch line-up: Ronnie Flex will fly in for the show, and other acts include Chef’Special, Claw Boys Claw, Strawelte, Funkanizers, The Bluebirds and the Royal Netherlands Air Force orchestra. You can check out the full line-up on the Friesland festival’s site.
About Liberation Day
On Liberation Day, also known as Freedom Day, the Dutch celebrate the capitulation of Nazi Germany. For the Netherlands, this marked the end of World War II, even though the war had not yet ended in the rest of Europe and Asia. Liberation Day is celebrated on a grand scale with Liberation Day festivals in Amsterdam and in the twelve provincial capitals. For the Dutch it’s a moment to realize how lucky they are to live in a country where people live in freedom, and to reflect on the fact that there are many places in the world where this is not the case.
4 May: Remembrance Day
On 4 May, The Netherlands remembers the victims of war throughout its history. At 8 p.m., the entire country observes two minutes of silence, and all of the largest cities across The Netherlands host memorial ceremonies. Camp Westerbork, which was a detention camp for thousands of Jewish citizens during the Second World War, also hosts a large commemoration ceremony.
Correction: The lead paragraph of this story previously referred to 4 May as Liberation Day. 5 May is Liberation Day, 4 May is Remembrance Day.