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.