If Germany has Oktoberfest, then Leiden has 3 October celebration, or more famously called Leidens Onzet or the Leiden’s Relief.
It all started in the year 1574, when the Spanish failed to capture Leiden, despite the city being blockaded for months. After pressures from the rebels and Dutch army, Spanish lifted the siege on 3 October and left the city.
The Dutch king at that time William of Orange awarded the city with the first university in the Netherlands: Leiden University.
Now this historical moment is celebrated every year in Leiden. The city is filled with kermis (fun fairs), beers, and bad Dutch music. However, unlike the Queen’s Day in Amsterdam, the people at Leidens Onzet were waaayy much nicer. They were drunk, but still in a gezellig way. I remember that on the second evening of the celebration I stumbled upon two half-drunk guys who were so drunk and happy that we ended up talking for an hour. I forgot their names now, but one guy was Indo (half-Indonesian) and the other guy once traveled to Southeast Asia.
The nicest thing about the Leidens Onzet in 2010 was that it was celebrated for four days (from Friday to Monday) because.. The date 3 October was on Sunday and Sunday is a holy day for Christians that the party should not take place on Sunday. This is rather amusing for me, knowing the fact that 27% of the people in the Netherlands are atheists and I think maybe almost 50% of the whole population is no longer religious.
Oh well, people always need some reasons to party longer.
On Saturday (2 October) I joined the taptoe, or the walk around Leiden. I joined the walk from Breestraat (really close to where I lived), then to van der Werff park (van der Werff was the mayor during the Siege of Leiden), Levendaal, and Hooigracht. It was a really nice walk actually, there were marching bands and important people from the town hall wearing red-and-white (the colour of Leiden) in the taptoe as well.
Later that evening I met Cindy and we went to Café Roebels, only 20 steps away from my front door. We had a nice chat until a drunk foreigner vomited close to where we sat. We moved to another table first, but then this foreigner was so drunk that he started to bump things. So we decided to go before he vomited again.
On Sunday (3 October) I asked Maarten to take a photo of me in front of the street called Drie Oktoberstraat. He used to live in that street, but we didn’t take photo there last year because I was ill on the eve of 3 October.
me on drie oktoberstraat
Afterwards we had a stroll along the canal and took a ride on the Ferris wheel. There were more attractions if you were an adrenaline junkie, but Maarten and I were slow animals who didn’t like the rush. Except when we tried Joris and the Draak at the Efteling perhaps..
maarten and i on the ferris wheel
We also tried some fun fair food: beenham and some candies. I bought this blue-and-white giant lollipop which I couldn’t finish until the week after. We didn’t try the harring and the white bread unfortunately – the traditional food for Leidens Onzet – but eating raw fish didn’t really interest me anyway.
oxalis and the lollipop
That evening we also dropped by at Carl’s place as Carl and Linda made some oliebollen (it was.. or was it? Or was it? – oh I had been watching too many Fry and Laurie’s).
On Monday the big celebration took place. I stood on the side of Breestraat (the street where the town hall is) and took photographs of the carnival. People dressed in various costumes walk along the streets, some on horses, some other in strange carnival vehicles. Well mostly they walk, although they were also some Mercedes Benz cars just because they had a showroom in Leiden..
In the evening I took some photos of the funfair. I had been wanting to take these sort of pictures for ages, so I was happy I finally did it.
At the fun fair I met mas Happy, who asked me to go to Ferris wheel again. It was a nice view from up there, especially with all those lights from the fun fair.
I planned to end my 3 Oktober celebration with taking pictures of the fireworks. I went to Maarten’s place because now he lives really close to where the fireworks took place. We saw the fireworks from the window of his room and it was really nice. I especially like these little sparkles:
And this too:
After the fireworks ended, I walked back to my place along the Haarlemmerstraat (the shopping street of Leiden). Half way the Haarlemmerstraat, I met Lieven and he said that Media Techies were drinking at de Bonte Koe (a bar near Hooigracht). So he gave me a lift on his bike and we went to de Bonte Koe. The bar however, was extremely full with party goers. We finally went to the next bar, de WW, which was really close to my place.
Everybody was drinking and everybody was dancing all night long. And that was the proper way of celebrating 3 Oktober 😉
more photos are here