Step right up! The amazing upcoming Dutch fantasy festivals of 2015

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Elfs, witches, wizards, orcs, dragons, the Ghost Busters, Darth Vader, faeries, vampires, steampunk, Finn and Jake, Alice, otaku’s, historical reenactment lovers and countless monsters all roaming around in a beautiful medieval castle. There are a few great fantasy themed festivals here in Holland, and that makes me a very happy girl.

Although I am somewhere lost in between a dark-mori-lolita-victorian-steampunk-goth outfit, I love dressing up! Somehow between my counter-culture brethren, I feel at ease. Maybe it’s the masked ball effect, revealing the one true self as eyes are covered in paint, intricate masks, neon contact lenses or other unworldly contraptions. But enough of this psycho-loco crap. Let’s see where the freaks are hiding:

SanCta Machina – 4&5 July

Get your cogs and gear ready, this one’s gonna be steamy. Back for the second edition in 2015, this steampunk lovin’ event will bring together The Steampunk Objective (Dutch Steampunk representatives) and the Sassenachs.

Venue: Kasteel Radboud Medemblik
Adult ticket price: €10
Why come: Automatons, top hats, Victorian contraptions and time-travellers.

FantasIafest – 25&26 July

With a delightfully rich story behind its castle venue, the 6th edition of Fantasiafest is the meeting place for vikings, wizards, celts, pirates, witches and adventurers. You will admire the works of artists who use the elements to create magical works of art. The Dutch European Steampunk Convention will make an apparance so I am looking forward in dropping by.

Venue: Meppel
Ticket price: € 16 for both days
Why come: the market, the punks and the bands

Castlefest – 31 July&1-2 August

With 5 stages and numerous workshops and activities, Castlefest is marked with a big X on my calendar. Artists, storytellers and living history reenactments will become your reality, as they promise. It’s going to be my first time at Castlefest so I am pretty excited. Celtic and folk music lovers will get a kick out of the folk-punk, rock, heavy-metal, mandolin-playing bands. There’s also a winter edition in December.

Venue: Lisse, Kasteel Keukenhof
Adult ticket price: € 19, 95 per day
Why come: summer breeze in your hair, a cold mead shared with an orc and that sweet, sweet music

Elfia – 19&20 september

Elfia offers one of the most magical crowd I’ve ever witnessed. It is known. 22,500 visitors and travelers come from far away lands to be a part of this fantasy/ celtic/ manga brew. The entertainment value is great: enough exhibitors to leave your pouch empty and enough mead to fill-up your belly. This 2 days festival takes place 2 times a year, in April and in September. Oh and have I mentioned that last April you could take pics on the Iron Throne and chit-chat with Pypar (Game of Thrones’ Josef Altin), for a moderate price.

Venue – Kasteeltuinen Arcen
Adult ticket price: € 27,95 for both days
Why come: amazing venue, costume parade, international guests.

Gothic & Fantasy Beurs – 24&25 October

Goths, punks and moths, gather around! If you’ve missed the March edition of this exciting event, fear not. They have one installed for us cold weather lovin’ people as well. The organizers promise a great array of workshops, gothic and folk bands.

Venue: De Broodfabriek, Rijswijk
Adult ticket price: € 7,00
Why come: Because goth.

Bikes’n dykes – An expats’ review of the Netherlands

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So here I am officially living in the Netherlands for 1 year now. The struggling procrastinator in me is rather surprised (“no way a year passed by”) at the irreversible passage of time. This is an article about my shift in perspective on life, society and human interaction. The Netherlands have embraced me like I was always one of them. You know, that moment when you “put on new shoes and suddenly, everything feels right”. One question still lingers though – what is home?

Language and living

English is spoken by everyone. There’s an acceptance in acknowledging that you’re foreign. Their eyes truly lid up though when they can hear you trying to make yourself understood in Dutch. And here is where I found it most hard because it is so much easier to obviously stick to English. But because I want to live here, to get to know people in their own habitat, I want to speak Dutch as good as possible. Luckily enough I found a great language course close by the Voorwartz language training school. With their help and my own study, I am managing to crack this code and pass the language barrier

Favorite word: zodra meaning “as soon as”

A culturally diverse land

Doe maar gewoon dan doe je al gek genoeg  – which translates to “Just act normal, it’s crazy enough as it is” is a great reflection of the dutch society. As opposed to the Romanians, the Dutch won’t sugar coat their views, they are direct and can come off as somewhat rude and cocky.  Nevertheless, the three kisses on the cheeks are definitely proof of how warm the Dutch truly are. The culturally rich society reminds me of utopian worlds of acceptance and order, where everyone adds to the whole down-to-earthiness. Honeymoon phase much?!


The food

Dutch cuisine took some getting used to. As a country that still holds the marks of its impressive diplomatic and foreign policies, The Netherlands’ cuisine is a worldwide spice mix. The asian and thai influence is highly noticeable in the store ails. The Dutch love to experiment with foreign, exotic food. Nevertheless, the local meals and snacks are genuine. I can name frikandel, bitterballen, kipcorn (indescribable fried objects), stroopwafel, poffertjes, and of course, drop (liquorice). They love this stuff so much, they even drink it as shots.

Favorite dutch snack: Bitterballen

Cities and villages

As someone raised in front of the tv, I too had a slightly different vision of what was there to come for me when I moved here. Surprisingly, as I kept seeing more and more of the country, I began to wonder where the cities were. Coming from the baroques and art-nouveau styled Oradea, urban meant large imposing buildings, impressive architecture and concrete, lots and lots of concrete. Dutch cities (or, villages) are small, packed and kind of rural. Obviously the Randstad (Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague aka the economical hot zone) has everything you could want from a European urban landscape. There are no former communist grey mammoth buildings here and I kind of miss them.

Favorite city: Rotterdam

Festivals, parties and clubs

Even before I moved here I was very well aware of the great variety for cultural expression in The Netherlands. I’ve met and seen an amazing display of subculture and multi-genre expression during the Fantasya festival in the summer. The variety of Dutch cosplayers ranged from the mundane to the bizarre and back. I’ve seen delicate fairies, mysterious vampires, gaming cosplayers, viking settlers and of course my favorites, handy-dandy steampunk adventurers.

I had my kick when it comes to electronic music from the Awakenings festival. Attending this great yearly event meant that I got to hear and see in action a lot of my favorite DJ’s, such as Adam Beyer, Nina Kravitz, Jeff Mills, Ben Sims, Digweed, Alan Fitzpatrick, Gessafelstein and many many more.

Clubbing is not really my thing but the Dutch clubs I’ve managed to see around Breda and Amsterdam were packed, clean and smoke-free. Not to mention to above medium quality of the sound system. For my surprise I did encounter the obscure, well lid and down right dirty as well. Social life is giving, there are café’s everywhere and for everyone. The Dutch know how to party.

Favorite Dutch events: Emporium Vernesque, ADE

I am still adapting to all this and more. Therefore, the culture shock is slowly transgressing into acceptance. So what is home? Home is where you love and live.

Android Netrunner DIY playmats + free download

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Playmats are something I am not willing to invest in, unless it’s necesary. So I decided to make Android Netrunner DIY playmats that I am giving out as a free download. These playmats are not licensed and I recommend you buy the game, especially if you’re into Phillip K. Dick’s Blade Runner. The playmats serve the corp and the runner, each with it’s own different play areas.

Boardgames are making a serious comeback as the rules of social time with friends. The recent addition to our little boardgame collection is Android Netrunner, a card game for 2 players made the ever so great Fantasy Flight. In Netrunner you play either as a cybercriminal hacker or a megacorp. The game keeps us interested, flaws and all.

A starting player might be overwhelmed by the cards to keep track of. In Android Netrunner this is especially tough since the various stacks of cards each have different names. Take for example the runners play area where ‘the stack’ is the players draw pile, and ‘the heap’ is where discarded cards go. This is where the playmat comes in. A playmat is a little tool to ease the difficulty of games by placing the right cards in the right place. Obviously you can buy them for hard earned cash OR you can download them here for free. All you need to do is hit the download link, print these babies out and enjoy the game.

[download id=”251″]

The playmat for the runner contains the Heap, Stack, Click Tracker, ID and Score Area. On the side you’ll see the Resources, Hardware and the Programs.

The Runner playmat

The Runner playmat






















And here’s the Corp playmat with the Remote servers, the ID, the R&D, the Archives, the Click Tracker, the Actions and the Score Area.

netrunner corp playmat free download

Netrunner Corp Playmat

Characters who don’t say much – Silent heroes

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The phrase “less is more” perfectly sums up the idea behind some of the most famous silent or mute characters in tv and media. With defying characteristics and original story-lines, these roles play an unforgettable part in entertainment. Although their extroverted loud counterparts may be stealing their thunder, it sometimes takes less fuss to steal a spot in the mental collective. Here’s a list of some of pop culture’s most remarkable characters who don’t say much. But when they do decide to speak, we’re all ears.



I am Groot.

Starring in one of my favorite movies this year, Groot has really grown on me (get it, “grown”). This sentient gentle root-giant is more than meets the eye. Vin Diesel did a great job voicing the phenomena that is Groot. As another Star Wars reference in Guardians of the Galaxy, Groot means large in Dutch (and “vader” means father sooo the Dutchies kinda had it all figure it out before the actual reveal in Empire Strikes Back).


Hodor bleeding a little, still not talking much.


House Starks’ most beloved simple minded servant, Hodor has been of great importance to the Game of Thrones storyline. Kristian Naim, the Irish DJ who plays Hodor of Winterfell, grew up being partially deaf, which helped him mold into the role. “Hodor” has become a widely used catchphrase to showcase well, anything from surprise to anger or happyness. Because that is basically all of which this gentle giant can say in order to express himself. And it works just fine. “Hodor!”


Predator focussed on something.

One ugly ***!

The Predators (or Yautja) spend their time hunting and killing Xenomorphs and humans and display them as trophies. It’s a rite of passage for the most badass of these Rastafarian looking violent creatures. Solely referring to the 1987 and 1990 movies, the Predator is a mostly silent character that uses speech as a mockery of the English language. The Yautja language uses written symbolical objects that you can probably remember them from their self-destruction wrist gauntlets. Voiced by Kevin Peter Hall (also known for Gremlins, Red Skull and GoBots). the Predators refuse to say more than a few words in English, words they’ve remembered and probably kept to use in “special” occasions. The movies are filled with ridiculously quotable lines. “Want some candy?


Characters who don't say much: Wall-e... in space.

Only in movies can a garbage collector go to outer space.

Wall-E, the lovable robot garbageman was sent to clean up Earth’s filth in the distant future. Pixar succeeded in projecting emotions and free-will onto this lovable metal case. Wall-E’s robotic voice is the result of Ben Burtt’s vision of a sentient robot who uses body language and sound imitation to communicate. The curious Wall-E falls in love with EVE, a modern probe on a different mission. They’re robotic sounds are the results of human voices running through computers, thus creating sounds that humans cannot. Ben Burtt is the sound engineering genius who created the lightsaber sound, among many others.

Maggie Simpson

Characters who don't say much: Maggie Simpson.

Ofcourse a baby cannot talk, what is this, Family Guy?

Maggie is the smallest of the 3 Simpsons children and the one to hear and see the least in the show. Although she does not yet know how to talk, she is often shown as a child prodigy, displaying advanced skills for her age and mimicking actions taking place around her. Heroic Maggie is rarely heard talking. Her first word, “Daddy“, made international news. During the entire 25 season of Simpsons, she was voiced by guest stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, James Earl Jones and Jodie Foster.

Gordon Freeman

Gordon Freeman is a character who doesn't say much at all.

The player can do the talking and swearing for Gordon.

This is the hero of an alternate earth which is being harvested by the Combine.  Apart from a few grunts and some heavy breathing, Gordon appears to be mute throughout the Half-Life game series, a decision made by Valve to give the player the feeling they ARE him. You could shake your mouse up and down to simulate nodding, but it won’t have effect on interactions with well-spoken characters. No matter, as Gordon is better equipped with a crowbar instead of a voice. “Man of few words aren’t you?”


Transformers' Bumblebee.

*radio plays concerned music*

Lieutenant Bumblebee is the yellow Chevvy Camaro (originally a fictional car called Urbana 500) that fights alongside the AutoBots in defeating the Decepticons. His voice was damaged and ultimately replaced by inter-Autobot frequencies used to communicate with his peers. Bumblebee is talking to humans with the aid of radio sounds put together to create coherence. There’s a ton of media on the Transformers and the character story somewhat differs but what remains the same is Bumblebee’s charming “smart ass” nature. The voices of Bumblebee include many actors, namely Mark Ryan who also worked on the Transformers movies.

Mr. Bean

Mr Bean smiling awkwardly.

Mr Bean looking into your soul.

Rowan Atkinson created one of comedy’s most easily recognizable characters in modern television. The situational comedy is based on a challenged individual acting as child in a grown man’s body. Bean delighted us with hours of pure comedy fueled by the best physical humor there is. Mr. Bean talks only when necessary. He does sometimes mumble sentences in British accent to his teddy bear or other characters. If he’s indeed an alien or not, we’ll never know…


Drawing of Links face.


Reborn again and again, Link is (usually) the wielder of the triforce of courage in the land of Hyrule. While he can be very expressive with his face and musical instruments, he too has a non-existant vocabulary… apart from the CD-i Zelda game which is widely regarded as a bad move. His quiet nature may make him look mysterious as in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time he is wanted by numerous female characters. Legend of Zelda voice acting was done by several different voice actors in different games and various stages of character development throughout the game(s).

Silent Bob

Characters who don't say much: Silent Bob.

This dynamic duo consists of Jay, the verbally exhausting, disrespectful extrovert and Silent Bob, the delivered of deep, meaningful, but ever so rare monologues. Silent Bob’s character first appeared in Clerks and then in several movies dedicated to the two. Played by Clerks producer Kevin Smith, Silent Bob seems to sometimes burst out of his non-talkative character simply to pin point Jay to some obvious direction. He’s mostly reacting and gesticulating through-out the movies, which adds to the stoner humor promoted by the show.


South Park's Kenny.

*mumble mumble*

“Oh my God, they killed Kenny!” “You bastards!” One of the poorest kids in South Park, Kenny McCormick dies repeatedly only to magically return again the very next episode. Technically Kenny is not mute or even quiet as he has quite a dirty mouth. It’s just that nobody apart from his friends can understand his muffled speech. That is until he either removes his orange raincoat (as seen in the South Park movie; Bigger, Longer & Uncut) or takes on the form of his brave alter ego, Mysterion.  Hooded Kenny voiced by Matt Stone and unhooded Kenny is voiced by Mike Judge, both creators of the show. Video contains spoilers:

The point is you don’t need to be loud to have a strong voice and to become heard.