Utrecht’s Charming Dogs

Can we go now?
I still miss my own dog, Pippo, on a daily basis, but I do love seeing the many dogs found throughout the city on any given day. Many of them take part in events like yesterday’s Stadsdag/Culturele Zondag, tagging along with their owners to listen to some singing and enjoy the sunshine.

When we first arrived at the Stadhuisplein, I noticed this little terrier taking a break under one of the tables set up in the square. When a round of applause went up after the end of a song, he leapt to his feet, thinking that surely it was time to go. There are scents to be sniffed, after all! Why just stay in one spot?!

Unfortunately, he had to stay put, while we headed off to take in a few more sights and sounds. When we got to the Pandhof Sinte Marie, we came across this lovely sheepdog.
Built-in Shade
You may have spotted him in one of my photos yesterday. I admit to having taken more photos of him than of the singers. He was just so adorable! Like the little terrier, he seemed ready to keep exploring, rather than just sitting in one spot.

After the concert, we headed back to Mariaplaats, when who should we see, but our little terrier friend from the first concert!
Happy Dog
He was a dog on a mission, happy to be moving once again! As a result, that was the best photo I could get on such short notice. Still, you can see the happy smile on his face! I wonder if he and the sheepdog ran into it each other.

Utrecht’s not big, but the Stadhuisplein and Mariaplaats aren’t exactly next to each other, so it was a lovely surprise to see him again. I always love running into the same animals multiple times in an outing. Fortunately, it happens quite often!

What Do You Get Your City for Its 891st Anniversary?

Stadsdag
It’s Stadsdag (City Day) once again, as Utrecht celebrates the day it was officially declared a city 891 years ago. It was 2 June 1122 when keizer Hendrik V (Emperor Henry V) granted official cityhood to Utrecht, although Utrecht’s history certainly goes back much further. Since the anniversary was on a Sunday this year, it was easy to tie in the celebration with the monthly Cultural Sunday events. This month’s theme was Vocal Kabaal, with singing to be heard almost everywhere you went. From small a capella performances to rap battles to thoughtful singer/songwriters, the options were numerous and in multiple languages. Dutch and English were obvious, but there was also a Portuguese fado singer performing at the Winkel van Sinkel.

Stadsdag

We stopped first at the Stadhuisplein where an opening ceremony was taking place. The four singers we saw were impressive and I really enjoyed listening to their more operatic performances. As the Stadhuis was the location of the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, it’s perhaps no surprise that there were a few people wandering around dressed in period costume.
Stadsdag

As the weather was cooperating and the sun was shining, we decided to head over to Mariaplaats and the Pandhof Sinte Marie (a lovely cloistered garden). There, we came across multiple groups of performers. A small group was doing a lively performance of 1950s-60s style classics. Lots of fun and appealing to fans of all sorts!
Stadsdag
Just around the corner, another group was performing in front of the conservatory, with numerous international music students watching the performance.
Stadsdag
We also stopped in briefly at Flora’s Hof to enjoy yet another performance in a lovely garden area. The weather just seemed perfect for outdoor performances with nature providing a lovely backdrop. In all, it was a great day to celebrate a wonderful city!
Stadsdag

Let The Cultural Season Begin!

Het Utrechts Archief
Every year, around the beginning of September, Utrecht holds a big party to kick off the beginning of the cultural season. The Uitfeest, as it’s called, sees a smorgasbord of cultural events taking place all over the city. There are special exhibits, dramatic performances, literary discussions, dance lessons, city tours and much more. This year’s Uitfeest was held this past Sunday and G and I took advantage of the day to go to Het Utrechts Archief (The Utrecht Archives) to finally see their 3D Expo showcasing old photos of the city dating back to the mid 1800s, all in 3D.

They have special viewers set up throughout the exhibit area, with sets of photos dating from the 1850s to the early 1900s. All are beautifully done to give a wonderful 3D effect, making it all seem much more real and immediate. I loved seeing a couple of old photos of my neighbourhood and seeing how little has changed in some ways!

We also got to watch (in regular format) some old pieces of film footage of the city, with clips dating back to the time of Queen Wilhelmina, the current queen’s grandmother. There was also a section showing the Catharijnsingel (canal) being filled in to turn it into a roadway. That same roadway is now being turned back into a canal.

Old Music

After spending a couple of hours at the Archives, we wandered through various other spots around town, enjoying the sights and sounds. The Domplein was filled with people taking special tours that highlighted the city’s 2000 years of history. It’s also one of the locations where the Old Music Festival is also taking place. Each year, they build a different gold/yellow gate (seen above) into the pandhof as part of the festival.

Salsa at the Vismarkt
Walking along the Oudegracht, we saw salsa dance lessons being given at the Vismarkt. The lessons were given by one of the local latin dance groups in town. Anyone could join in.

Next we headed to the Stadhuis (old city hall), because there was a small photo exhibit I wanted to see. It was 30 photos of 30-year-olds in 030 (the area code for Utrecht). The square behind the Stadhuis was packed with different groups. There was a literature display, various dance and drama groups, a bus promoting Utrecht’s bid to be one of the Cultural Cities of 2018, food vendors, and much more.

Red Carpet Festivities

There were also performers on unicycles and acrobats who stopped along the way to perform various feats. They seemed to be heading toward Neude, which is where we were heading, but we lost them somewhere along the way!
Unicycle
Acrobats

Our last stop was in Neude, where there were concerts and fashion shows and other events taking place all day. In all, there were 150 various cultural events/installations and there were more than 55,000 people in town to enjoy them all, up 5,000 from last year. The arts are alive and well in Utrecht! If you’re interested in seeing the 3D Expo at Het Utrechts Archief, the exhibit is open until the end of October.
Concert at Neude

Celebrating Utrecht

There’s a lot going on in Utrecht this weekend. Here are a few highlights of some of the bigger events.

Roman Walls [Day 126/365]
Utrecht is celebrating its 890th birthday tomorrow. It was 2 June 1122 when keizer Hendrik V (Emperor Henry V) granted official cityhood to Utrecht. Of course, the city has been around in one form or another for much longer. You can see some of the 3D depictions of what part of the city looked like if you click on this link.

To celebrate this anniversary, there will be a variety of festivities tomorrow for Stadsdag (City Day). Starting at 10 a.m., there will be tours, special programs and performances and much more. You can see the full program listing on the official website. I’m still trying to work out which events to go to, such as the tour of the Buurkerk clock tower and the Domcarrillion concert. There’s also a lot of stuff going on at the Utrechts Archief (archives), so hopefully the weather will cooperate!

To go along with the look back at Utrecht in the past, you might want to check out this documentary that the RTV Utrecht channel aired recently. Even if you can’t understand the Dutch, you might be interested in seeing video of the Domplein area, which I post frequently, including in both of these photos.

Dance
On Sunday, it’s time for another Culturele Zondag (Cultural Sunday). This month’s theme is dance, with all sorts of dance styles being represented by professionals and amateurs alike. Throughout the city, there will be performances in shops, museums, theaters, and even on the street. In fact, Voorstraat will be the site of a street festival, with dancing, live music, DJs, and special tours.

Finally, on Sunday, there’s also the latest edition of De Streekmarkt on Twijnstraat. This outdoor market features some of the best of organic and local food items. The next one isn’t held until September, so you might want to be sure to check it out this month to see what special summer items are on hand.

Random Sunday Observations

Shady Oasis
Why is ok for street sweeper machines to be out working at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, but god forbid a normal store be open?

Pippo and I took a little walk before breakfast this morning and wandered through Janskerkhof. Despite the torrential downpours we’ve had in the past 24 hours, the scent of yesterday’s flower market still hung heavy in the air.

The rain looks like it’s on its way back any minute now. We got the walk in just in time. Today is Culturele Zondag (Ga Groen!), but I’m not sure the weather will encourage me to leave the house again. Baking, on the other hand, seems like the perfect rainy-day activity. I think I’ll make a small batch of muffins with a little bit of chocolate and the handful of strawberries I have left.

Friendly Promotion

Lovely Birdie [Day 143/365]
As I mentioned previously, the Utrechtse Fabriek, an indie craft show took place this weekend (well, Sunday and Monday, but Monday was a holiday) and I stopped by on Monday to see what was on offer and to see Kerryanne’s display. I’ve always admired her work on her blog and her website, so it was nice to finally see it in person. Over the holidays, she had posted some photos of little crocheted birds that I thought were adorable. Fortunately for me, she had some for sale at the Fabriek and I was able to pick one up. Isn’t he/she cute? I need a name (and a gender), though. Any suggestions?

Dance
Later on that day, we did head over to the Domplein to see the UDans that I posted about, even though I never did get around to attempting to learn the choreography. Unfortunately, the big dance wasn’t happening until later, it seems. We stuck around for a while to watch some of the other dance performances, but I had spent the day lounging in the sun and was quite sleepy as a result, so we soon headed home. There was a pretty large crowd there, though, so I’m sure it was quite a sight when everyone got their chance to shake what their momma gave ’em!
Waiting to Dance