Bock Bier Festival in Utrecht

Ledig Erf Bock Bier Festival
It’s that time of year again! Time for the annual bock beer festival at Ledig Erf! Lots of delicious bock beers from a variety of breweries, and various typical Dutch snacks to soak up some of the alcohol.

The festival starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday. We’ll be there Saturday afternoon, hoping the rain stays away. It’s always been gorgeous the past years we’ve gone. Hopefully our luck hasn’t run out! Say hi if you spot us.

If you go, take cash. You pay a deposit on a glass (which you can keep or return for your money back) and you buy coins that are used inside the tents to pay for the beers.

As well as looking forward to seeing friends and drinking tasty beers, I’m also looking forward to seeing what strange, new creatures will be roaming the festival this year.
Friendly CreaturesStrange Creatures

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!

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

Summer Darkness 2012

Usually I don’t bother with words on Wednesday, and I don’t honestly have many for today. Just a few to explain that these are a few of the photos I took Sunday at the Summer Darkness events taking place at the Domplein. There was a market set up — where I found some great boots — as well as fashion shows taking place throughout the day. I was there relatively early, so I didn’t get the same selection of photos as in the past. Plus, the Pandhof was closed, which is usually a great spot for photos.

After my photos, check out the video at the end of the post. It’s a short piece showing the Domtoren carillon player performing Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence”, one of three pieces specially performed to celebrate Summer Darkness’ 10th anniversary.

Summer Darkness 2012

Summer Darkness 2012

Summer Darkness 2012

Summer Darkness 2012

Summer Darkness 2012

Summer Darkness 2012

Summer Darkness 2012

Summer Darkness 2012

Summer Darkness 2012

Summer Darkness 2012

The Return of Summer Darkness

Utrecht's Unusual Festival
It’s time for one of my favourite festivals in Utrecht. Summer Darkness is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Ten years of Goths, Lolitas, and other alternative types invading Utrecht for a festival of art, music, fashion, markets and more. Oddly enough, it does seem to coincide with the rare week of warm weather. I’m not always sure that’s a good thing, considering some of the corsets, rubber and other warm outfits many of the attendees are usually wearing.

In between the Olympic events, I’ll probably head over to the Domplein this weekend to check out some of the fashion shows and the general crowd that is always on hand, ready for a few photo ops. It’s a great mix of old and young, Goth and non-Goth. There’s a link and more info about the festival in the Calendar of Events section.

In other random news, I attended an Expat Desk focus group last night and enjoyed getting the chance to discuss the things that would be helpful for new and established expats. Best of all, I also got to meet Jane from Jane in Utrecht. What a great surprise! She’s just as wonderful and interesting to talk with as her blog, which I always enjoy.

In integration news, I rode my bike over to the meeting last night (not something I do often) and I did it while wearing heels. I still get wobbly when other cars, bikes and scooters pass too close, i.e., on the same street, but I’m getting much better!

ETA: I just found out that the Domtoren will be playing a few special songs for the opening of Summer Darkness today. From the Summer Darkness Facebook page:

The official opening of Summer Darkness with the unique entertainment of Malgosia Fiebig, Carilloneur Extraordinaire of the Dom Church will play 3 dark birthdaysong.. which ones?
Qntal – Palastinalied
Within Temptation – Ice Queen
And Last but most certainly not least:
Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence
We hope you will all enjoy this unique musical moment.

Bock Beer Festival

Laughs on Ledig Erf
Saturday was a social, fun day for us. After attending the Occupy Utrecht protest, we later headed to Ledig Erf on the southern tip of the old city center, in order to attend the Bockbier festival, with numerous autumn bock beers on offer. Best of all, having mentioned the festival here a couple of days before, Amy from got in touch with me and suggested we all meet up.


Amy and company had gotten there first and snagged a nice table on the bridge over the Oudegracht. We met up with them and then headed in to take advantage of all the great beers. The way it was set up, you paid €3 for your own glass (although if you returned the glass at the end of the day, you could get your €3 back). You also bought “munt”, plastic tokens that you used for the beers. The beers were also €3 each.

Bocks on Tap
(I happened to notice the man looking toward me in the photo after I’d taken the shot, and we exchanged smiles. Everyone was quite friendly.)

The beers were available on tap inside the main tent. There was a whole wall of beers to choose from, and you simply got in line in the area in front of the beer you wanted, based on the signs hanging above. Lines moved quickly, so it wasn’t much of a problem. We tried De Leckere’s Rode Toren, Utrechtse Bok, Eem Bok, La Chouffe, Steenbrugge, and maybe Jopen. They were all really nice, with definite differences.

One of the more unusual parts of the day came as we were walking along Twijnstraat heading for the festival itself. As we walked, we suddenly started seeing these strange horned creatures. It might not have been so unnerving if we hadn’t also seen a guy shortly before that who was definitely making me think the zombie invasion might actually be starting. When I started to pass the second horned creature, it began pawing the ground, while looking right at me!

Leaf Eater

We saw them again wandering around the festival itself, and this one — the one who was pawing the ground — does seem to prefer leaves to human flesh, I was relieved to see!

We really had a good time, enjoying excellent company, lots of laughs, and lots of great beer. It’s an annual event, so I definitely recommend checking it out next year if you like good autumnal bock beers.

Bokbier Festival Glasses

Summer Darkness, And I Don’t Mean the Weather

It’s that time of year again. Time for Summer Darkness, the dark alternative festival that comes to Utrecht every year. Considering Goth is a part of the festival, and Utrecht has its very own half-standing Gothic cathedral, it’s a match made in heaven. Or Hades. Depending on your perspective. All I know is that the little Goth girl in me of my teen years would have LOVED this festival. As it is, I’ve been tempted to go see Nitzer Ebb or Killing Joke when they perform this week as part of the festival.
Fashion Show

Fashion Show
As I’ve done the past couple of years, I will definitely head over to the Domplein to check out the fashion shows and outdoor market they set up for the weekend. It’s always fun for people watching, especially some of the visual contrasts that pop up.
Family Affair

Pretty Colours

All Types
As I said, the cathedral in Utrecht, which is located at the Domplein, is one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture in the Netherlands, so it’s an ideal setting for many of the festival attendees, as well as for all the photographers who swarm the Domplein to get some interesting photos of the visitors. It’s quite common to see photographers approaching some of the more interestingly dressed people to then head to the cloistered gardens for a Gothy photoshoot. It’s not just photographers, either. Lots of interviews take place there, as well.
Goth on Goth


Model & Photographer

Photo Op

I don’t really the look the part anymore, and my Bauhaus t-shirt is a bit too snug now, but maybe I’ll buy one of the purple wigs they have each year in the market. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had purple hair.

Foto Vrijdag 2.21

No Little Plans [Day 146/365]
The annual Festival aan de Werf has been going on for the past week or so and as always, something interesting has gone up in the Neude square. Last year is was a giant inflatable penguin. This year it’s a massive sign. I liked the idea of that particular sign/saying juxtaposed with the Domtoren. It certainly required big plans to get the Domtoren built back in the 1300s.

Just An Average Saturday

Curious Cat
The weather has turned lovely and everyone is enjoying it, throwing open windows, sitting outdoors, and just generally living the gezellig life. Even I’m feeling more like myself again, even if I do get easily tired. To make the most of the good weather and my return to health, G and I headed out this morning to hit up a few shops on Nachtegaalstraat. I had my camera with me, of course and took a few shots along the way. I figured I’d share some of the photos I took today that seemed to embody the spirit of the day. As you can see from the first photo, even the neighborhood cats were enjoying the spring weather and the open windows!
The annual Festival aan de Werf is going on this week and the area in front of the stadsschouwburg (city theater) has been taken over by a colorful part of the festival. I loved the geometric shapes, simple colors, and bright sunshine.
Festival a/d Werf Town
Unfortunately, by the time I got to that point, I was already feeling a bit wiped out. In my head I could envision the type of photo I wanted to get, focusing tightly on the shapes, but my mind just wasn’t moving quickly enough. I guess that’s the result of only really having two meals in three days. Still, with a bit of cropping, I got something close to what I had in mind. Fortunately, I’ve got the rest of the week to try again.
Geometric [Day 140/365]
Even our own animals couldn’t resist the siren song of the sunlight. Pippo made a beeline for the terrace when we got home and started sunning himself under the apple tree. It’s a dog’s life!
Tomorrow or Monday — Eerste and Tweede Pinksterdag (a two-day celebration of the Pentacost, and national holidays here) — I’ll be going over to the Griftpark to check out this year’s Utrechtse Fabriek, an indie craft show. I went last year and got to meet Nina from ninainvorm, who makes lovely pottery, including a piece I have. This year I’ll definitely be going to check out the work of fellow Utrecht-resident Kerry, of solohandmade. Even if you don’t get to go to the show, check out her website. She makes beautiful stuff!

Animal Sightings

This morning I saw a woman walk past our window wearing what looked like the top of a fox costume, complete with tail. I’ve heard of furries, but don’t remember seeing one in real life before. I tried to rush upstairs to see if I could get a photo, but no luck. However, once I thought about it a bit more, and remembered that she had a cello with her, I started to think that maybe she isn’t a middle-aged furry, but is a musician taking part in one of the TweeTakt Festival events taking place.

TweeTakt is a youth theater festival that has been going on all week and taken over the Neude square, with all sorts of buildings and farm animal statues going up (as seen above). Banners, flags and signs for the event have been up all over the city for the past couple of weeks, in fact. Not being into youth theater, I can’t tell you much more about it, so I’ll just show you a couple of photos of the signs and banners.
Theater Festival Lights
TweeTakt at Neude
Tweetakt [Day 73/365]