We spent the last weekend, actually a 4 day weekend, on Vlieland, the second of the chain of islands at the top end of the Netherlands. This last weekend was the Into The Great Wide Open festival.
We drove to Harlingen, over the Afsluitdijk.
We set up our tent at Lange Paal campground.
Luckily there are small trucks that carry all your stuff from Harlingen to the campground. You are not allowed to take a car onto the island and everyone rents bikes to get around the island. Here’s what camping looks like on Vlieland.
After we got our tent set up we hopped on our bikes and headed to the festival grounds. Just like everyone else!
The festival officially started Friday afternoon, which is when we got there, but we heard that there were some unofficial, impromptu, gatherings and performances on Thursday night when people started to arrive.
There are 3 main areas where bands/musicians are playing, plus other areas where you can find art and activities (especially for kids). The sports field is where the main stage was located, along with loads of food stands and a tiny ferris wheel and merchandise sales (very minimal). A short walk from there was the Buiten (outside) stage which was set in the woods and was cozy and small. Then, a bike ride away, up the hill near the lighthouse, was another small stage, the Vuurbuitsduin.
Here are a few of my favorite photos from the weekend:
Whole pigs being roasted on a spit:
Kids running around collecting glasses. They got 1 munt (2.50 euros) for every 20 glasses they returned. The glasses were washed and reused all weekend. These kids were tenacious!
It’s definitely a kid-friendly festival. There were lots of things for them to do (besides collect glasses), such as “make your own poffertjes” (little pancakes). There was also a place for them to make their own pizza.
Friday night we walked down to the beach.
And watched the sun set.
There was an art event on the beach earlier, but we missed it. I did get a really nice photo of the piano though.
I love that photo! It reminds me of Neil Young’s “On The Beach”.
We also went to the Vuurboetsduin stage late Friday night. We didn’t like the music, but the stage and the setting was super.
Saturday afternoon was also spent on the hill, now in brilliant sunshine.
By the time Adrian Young took the stage, the place was packed. Adrian and his band were great, and the band stay around after their set and mingled with the crowd, signing records and chatting. It’s that kind of festival.
Back at the sport field and the main stage, things were heating up (or “hotting up” as the English say), with Alt-J:
And Balthazar (we are big fans of Balthazar):
And sake tasting (3 glasses per tasting with a nice explanation from the seller about each type of sake):
This photo was taken Sunday morning, at the Buiten stage, around 11:00 in the morning. It was beautiful, sunny, in the trees, sitting on the forest floor drinking coffee and listening to interviews and music. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning!
Anne Soldaat being interviewed. He sang for us afterwards.
Back to the main stage late in the afternoon and Dio was whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
Now there were turkeys on the spit:
And the sun was still shining. How lucky were we!
Oh! I forgot to mention that we also spent some time hanging out in the sun on the dike that runs along the south side of the island.
You could see tall ships off in the distance.
And walking down from the lighthouse you could see the boats stuck in the mud of low tide.
The festival ended Sunday early evening and we made it an early evening ourselves. I think we were laying in our sleeping bags before 10:00pm! We were beat. Monday morning we broke camp and loaded our stuff into the truck at the campground (after a last minute panicked search for bike lock keys stuffed into a backpack already loaded onto the truck! ok- my fault) and biked back to the harbor. We returned the bikes and waited in the drizzling weather for our boat. Somehow the weather had been beautiful all weekend and then started to rain the minute we left. Talk about timing.
I haven’t talked much about music in this blog post, and music is the whole point of this festival. Clearly from my photos I think it’s about a whole lot more than the music!
My highlights of the weekend: the weather, Vlieland itself – GORGEOUS, Sunday morning music and forest setting, and the great company (DB, K & P) and the festival organization in general – oh and real flush toilets! Food highlights: Vietnamese, apple tarts, roasted pig and sake tasting. Music highlights: Janne Schra, Balthazar, Alt-J, Dirty Beaches (a little story about THAT coming up). The negatives? Hmmm, hard to find negatives. The food we had Sunday (old chicken and corn that wasn’t edible). That’s about it.
The festival is limited to 5,000 tickets and they plan to keep it that way. We were lucky to get tickets. You can only buy them online, starting at a certain date and time and they sold out within minutes. Having a festival on Vlieland forces them to keep it small. The island can only accommodate 8,000 people in total, including people who live there year round (about 1,100). I really hope we can score tickets again next year. I wouldn’t miss it!
OK, the story about Dirty Beaches. They (a 3 person band) were playing at the small (tiny) stage across the field from the main stage. They are from Toronto. They play loud grating music that isn’t to everyone’s taste. The singer looked like an Eskimo and seemed just a little crazy. At the end of the short set he jumped off the stage and ran around hugging people in a manic fashion. He wrapped one arm around DB and another arm around someone else and dragged them back and forth through the crowd. Someone shouted “til hem op!” (lift him up) and they crowd surfed him around. Finally he came to the ground and ended the set on stage. It was during that meelee that DB’s sunglasses went flying, never to be seen again. His good sunglasses that he bought in Chico. Oh well. It was funny and fun and we are now fans.
Here is a flickr set of my photos from the weekend. I could really write up a story about each photo, but it would be too long and become boring. You had to be there.