The celebration of water sports, which is now in its 85th year, brings a week of partying to the Frisian city.
Sneekweek is a yearly event organised by the Royal Water Sports Association Sneek, along with the Gemeente Sudwest-Fryslan. The city of Sneek is very much the home of Dutch watersports, even calling itself the ‘watersports city’, and like many Frisian cities has a huge number of waterways and lakes. The largest of these is the Sneekermeer, which has direct water access to the centre of the city, and hosts Sneekweek each year.
This year Sneekweek begins this evening, Friday 2nd August, with the traditional ‘Vlootschouw’, or inspection of the fleet. This is largely ceremonial, and serves to officially open the event and show off all of the sailing boats competing throughout the week. The boats are ‘sent off’ by either the Mayor or the King’s Commissioner. The opening is held in the centre of the city, next to the iconic Waterpoort, and also includes musical performances and fireworks to round off the night.
From Saturday the 3rd onwards, the high-adrenaline racing begins. All of it is controlled from an island in the middle of the Sneekermeer: the Kolmeersland, and the partying continues on this island for the entire week. The sailing races continue through to Thusday 8th, where they are capped off by an enormous party on the Kolmeersland, and prizes are handed out.
One race not to miss comes on Wednesday, the so-called ‘Hardzeildag’, and is known as the Friesland vs Holland race. A tradition that stretches back to the 17th Century, the team race has not been won by the Frisian team since 2016. Wednesday will also see a large free market cover the streets of Sneek (somewhat like the markets on King’s Day).
The week will be ended by a ‘culture weekend’, which will include street theatre day on the Saturday, a closing concert on the Sunday, and a huge number of smaller stages throughout the city. Sunday is also Koopzondag in the city of Sneek.
More information is available on the Sneekweek website: most events are free to attend and the city of Sneek is in full party mode during the Sneekweek, so its well worth getting over to Friesland to drink in the atmosphere.
Photo source: Sito Wijngaarden/Wikipedia