Friday, October 9, 2015

3 October Festival

Leiden, Netherlands

Last weekend the city of Leiden was filled with people (and bicycles, as suitable for a Dutch festival) to celebrate the 3rd of October. The 3rd marks the anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leiden by the Spanish in 1573 and 74, during the Eighty Years' War. For months the citizens starved as their supplies were cut off. The leader of the Dutch rebellion against Spain, Prince William of Orange, encouraged the city to hold out and formed a plan involving breaching the dikes and flooding the areas around Leiden. This would allow him to move his ships against the besiegers. However, this took much longer than he had hoped, and, though successful in pushing back the Spanish, many people within the city had already perished. For the survivors, Prince William's men brought herring and white bread.

Every year the festival commemorates Leiden's sacrifices and bravery during this siege. Herring and white bread is served for free, and many celebrations are planned around the city. We rode into the city to check things out, but we found our way blocked by people and bicycles.

The sound of approaching bagpipes drew our interest, and we realized there were marching bands and decorated floats passing through the crowd. We had stumbled upon one of the parades!

A young DJ shares some beats.

The parade featured different themes, such as countries, music and dancing, and literature. Local groups and clubs also contributed floats. During the course of the parade we spotted dancing Australians, a herd of acrobat wheels, the emperor with his "new clothes," and some sort of swimming group who didn't let the lack of water stop them from showing off their synchronized performance skills.

All dressed up with somewhere to go!

After the parade we took a walk around the city to see what else was going on. Most of the business were closed because everyone was out and about taking part in the celebration. There was a fair with rides, a market, and at the end of the day a fireworks show.

City hall.

Many houses proudly displayed their city flags, showing the red and white keys that represent Leiden.

And every street we walked down was lined with bikes!

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