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Fun and wonder at Edelwise Festival

After the rain stops at around three, people of all kinds flock to Edelwise Festival in Rembrandtpark on Saturday the 26th for a dose of music and fun. The average age of Edelwise visitors is a little higher than at the usual dance festivals. But then, it is decidedly not like other festivals any way. It's not huge, with one main stage, one smaller stage and a secret stage. But there are a lot of extras, that twinkle like little gems, waiting to be discovered.

Edelwise festival 2014 main stage by day

Dotan is starting to play at the main stage when we arrive. I don't think I've ever been to a festival that had an actual band on main stage. Eventhough the music is good, and the vibe is mellow and lightly festive, it's all a little too laidback for me. Also, the sound leaves a little to be desired. Everyone's just standing around, talking, and it's a bad sign that we can actually hear eachother. Music from the other stages can be heard over Dotan's Stolen Dance.

Twinkling extras
There's big tents with living rooms set up inside, they're a hoot. Little shops with lovely festival trinkets and tote bags. Face painting, hula hoops, silent disco, a photo booth, there's loads to do! There's a puzzle shack, where you get locked in and can only unlock the door if you figure out the solution to the puzzles. There's table tennis, and at a small white tent with a big rainbow arch in front there is a wedding going on.

We decide to take a seat in the living room where there's silent comedy, everyone sitting around with headphones on, listening to Stefan Pop, who tells us absurd, funny stories with a big, infectuous smile (he's a regular at Toomler, I gather. It's in dutch, but if you can handle that, go! He's good!).

Festival trinkets at Edelwise stallsSilent disco at Edelwise Festival 2014Puzzle shack at Edelwise FestivalFood area at Edelwise Festival 2014

Food and surprises
When we go for food, pizzas are 4 coins, burgers 3, and organic fries are 1,5 coins (one coin costs 2,70, you do the math). And even in the food area there's entertainment. Pretty girls in tiroler-like outfits hand out bingo cards and there's prizes to win (a mad suit, sunglasses and more).

It's the kind of festival where you are surprised on a regular basis. A remote control airplane does stunts over our heads. A lilliputter on a mini motorbike zooms through the crowd at high speed. Someone with a soap bubble gun shoots random people.

Back at the main stage, Kraak & Smaak have started their set. It's lukewarm at best, there are a couple of bodies moving here and there, but the crowd remains uninspired to dance. Still, with smiling faces all around, it's a happy scene. We're starting to think that this is it. A lovely day, calm and fun.

La Pegatina!
But then the lively guys of La Pegatina storm the stage and man, those Spaniards know how to party! All seven of them play and sing like their lives depend on it. People flock to the main stage and the crowd goes wild. The band gets them to dance along, sing along, take their shirts off: this is interactive music making.

La Pegatina at Edelwise Festival 2014The guys even do a rendition of "Er staat een paard in de gang" (there's a horse in the hallway), a Dutch carnaval classic, but then La Pegatina-style. Hundreds of people are singing along. Epic! They play with infectuous enthusiasm and humour. I'm dancing my ass off. This is the most fun I've ever had at a festival or concert. And all of their music is downloadable on their website (

Fun and wonder
Afterwards, there's a DJ with a live singer. There's an interlude with happy hardcore from the nineties, also with two live singers and a group of enthusiastic dancers doing the classic "hakken" dance. And veteran Joost van Bellen is the closing act on the main stage. But honestly, nothing is as much fun after La Pegatina.

Edelwise is not a festival that you have to go to, for this DJ or that band. It's not about the headliners. Instead, it brings you a day of fun and childlike wonder, in the gorgeous setting of Rembrandtpark.

Edelwise Festival 2014 in Rembrandtpark at night


Theatre, fun and romance at De Parade

Merry-go-round at De Parade in AmsterdamEvery year De Parade tours the four big cities in the Netherlands: The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amsterdam. It's a festival that offers performing arts (theatre, dance, singing, even magic), food and fun, all wrapped up in an old-fashioned carnival setting. Theatres, restaurants and restrooms are set up in tents on the site of the Martin Luther King park in Amsterdam.

Levi and I go every year. We love the romantic atmosphere, the merry-go-round, the poffertjes, the old-fashioned candy stall. The performing artists regularly tour the grounds, dressed up and promoting their shows. The success of De Parade is largely dependent on the weather. We lucked out with dry weather and a few rays of sun on Friday!Eating at Amaro in the open air at De Parade

Foodwise, there's a lot to choose from: Sushi, woodfired pizza, a tempurabar, Italian restaurant Lust, Mediterranean food at Amaro and I'm probably still forgetting a few. After dinner you can satisfy your sweet tooth with some ice cream, a coffee from the Douwe Egberts tent (expect to pay a deposit for the earthenware coffee cup) or a batch of poffertjes, that you get to bake yourself. I love poffertjes!

We saw two shows this year. We originally only bought tickets for one, called Moulin Rouge (tickets were E8,50 a piece), knowing the story I expected something exciting and sexy, but it was a dud. The tapdancing was fun, the accordeon and the violin were ok too, but the story was awfully told and the opera singing brought the tempo way down. The supposedly jawdroppingly beautiful Mimi looked like a dowdy housewife in an unflattering dress with too much bling. For some reason, she did not speak, only sing. By comparison, the male lead only spoke and rarely sang. He talked a lot. It lasted 35 minutes but Levi and I were both bored halfway through.

Anatomica #1 by Danceworks at De Parade 2011Coming out of the tent, we decided we had to see another show, to make up for this godawful one. While we were waiting to be let into the Moulin Rouge tent, we had heard the people in the neighbouring tent clapping and cheering loudly. We decided to take a chance and see whatever was going on there. It turned out to be a piece called Anatomica #1, by a company called Danceworks (ticket for this show: E9,-). What Moulin Rouge lacked in the sexy department, Anatomica had in spades. It was seductive, physical, embarrassingly sensual, funny and wholly captivating.

Festival opens at 3pm. Tickets for the festival are E7,-. Admission is free until 4pm. De Parade is in town until Sunday 21 August. Go see!

De Parade
Martin Luther King Park
(there's button for English at the bottom of the menu on the left)