Party in the Buurt!

Vrede in de Buurt
Utrecht, the city, is made up of a number of smaller neighborhoods. Today, they’ve all converged in my neighborhood for a parade, dinner, and party in the park. This is the kickoff to a weekend-long celebration called Vrede in de Buurt (Peace in the Neighborhood). More to come!
Vrede in de Buurt

Day of Celebration

Carnaval
There’s so much to celebrate today! It’s International Women’s Day! It’s Mardi Gras/Carnaval! It’s my parents’ wedding anniversary! It’s my birthday! Cake for everyone!

Saturday afternoon, we heard marching bands nearby, and when I peered out the window, I saw that there was a parade going through the main street through the city! Although the biggest celebrations of Carnival/Mardi Gras take place down in the southern part of the country around Maastricht, other cities still put on some sort of celebration. Utrecht had a parade. It took me back to my university days in New Orleans.

Today is the final day of celebrations before the beginning of Lent (if you follow all that), but I’ll be celebrating a bit of excess this evening with another feast of small round foods and a decadent chocolate birthday cake — which needs to be made, so I’d better get a move on! In the meantime, enjoy a few more photos of the floats in the parade.
Meisjes
Float
Tree Stump
Windmill
King Float
End of the Parade

Nederlands Film Festival Festivities

Nederlands Film Festival
The annual Nederlands Film Festival has returned. Every year, for a week and a half, Utrecht is overrun with film makers and film buffs as a variety of films are shown at cinemas and theaters around the city. I’ve not gone to see any of the films yet, but I always look forward to the arrival of the huge Gouden Kalf (golden calf) statue’s arrival in the grounds in front of the Stadsschouwburg. The golden calf is the symbol of the film festival and a miniature version is given out to award recipients. It’s essentially the Dutch version of the Oscar.
Golden Achievement
They literally roll out the red carpet at many of the theaters around town, and this year they’ve rolled out the red bikes, as well. At various spots around town, you’ll see a bicycle painted red and with theater names and directional arrows — along with the calf symbol — to direct visitors to the event locations. As you’ll see in the next photo, this bike is directing visitors to the City Theater on Voorstraat, and to the Stadsschouwburg off Lucasbolwerk.
Go By Bike
This evening, as we were relaxing on the sofa, watching the news about the austerity protests taking place in cities around Europe, we suddenly saw large groups of people walking past our own window. Was there an austerity protest going on right in front of us? An ironic one, considering the marchers seemed to be wearing golden cloaks? Nope! It was some sort of parade related to the film festival!
Golden Parade
I’m not exactly sure what the parade was for, but it might have something to do with the Jubilee Evening festivities taking place tonight. I found a mention of a parade of fashion artist Aziz Bekkaoui, but I’m not sure they literally meant a parade. Either way, there are music, art and film celebrations at the Stadsschouwburg tonight, and that seemed to be the direction in which they were heading.
Film Festival Parade
They were also singing as they walked along, and I realized that I knew the song! It’s a Dutch classic, although I admit that I know best the version that was performed at the first Nacht Van Het Vieze Lied (night of the dirty song) I attended. The song was Zing, Vecht, Huil, Bid, Lach, Werk en Bewonder (Sing, fight, cry, pray, laugh, work and admire) by Ramses Shaffy. I really do like this song, so for your listening pleasure, here it is!