A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
At this time of year, when the weather finally starts behaving and the days get sunnier and warmer, Leiden seems to hold a party every weekend. Take a walk around Leiden at the weekends over the next couple of months, and you will regularly come across events being held, from small neighbourhood get-togethers with local Dad bands rocking out, to larger and more formal gatherings, such as open evenings at museums. Last Tuesday the whole country celebrated for Queen/King’s day, and less than a week later, yesterday was the Dutch Remembrance Day, and today on May 5th the country celebrates the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation in the Second World War. Today the street outside my house is filled with market stalls, a petting zoo, carousel, hamburgers and a marching band!
Every year the whole of the Doezastraat and over the canal into Herenstraat fills with stalls. I have to confess that I am not sure what else goes on in Leiden on this day, but if you want to be certain of finding festivities in the city, then I recommend you head on over here. The first year I lived here, I came out of my front door on May 5th and was surprised to find the decorated street filled with stalls set up by each of the local shops. That particular year the weather was pretty bad, so I took a quick walk in the rain to see what was happening. Every year since I’ve made sure to free up some time on this day, and maybe it’s just my imagination, but the market seems to get better and better each year!
I’ve just come back inside from spending the afternoon browsing, tasting and dancing through the streets. The top of the road, next to the Van der Werf park in front of the Law Faculty, has been turned into a petting zoo, with goats, bunnies, ponies (even a baby pony!) and geese to squee over. The market between the petting zoo and the shops in Doezastraat this year sold all kinds of organic, biologic, home-made and locally produced things, from honey made right here in Leiden to tomato plants for your garden. There was a band playing near the canal, and earlier a small marching band wandered around. The local shops had their own stands, and towards the end of Herenstraat the formal stalls give way to families selling second-hand toys, clothes and whatever else they have lying around at home. Another chance to browse for junk if you missed your chance on April 30th!
All along the market was a whole load of food for the hungry, and I managed to try bits of pastries, quiche, honey, cheese, pickles, and an amazingly spicy prawn stew. Later in the afternoon we tried grinding and brewing our own coffee at a stall run by Koffie Leute.
The weather was gorgeous , and if you missed the market this year, I hope that the weather is great again next year for you!