The Netherlands celebrates Liberation Day on Thursday, marking 71 years since Germany surrendered at the end of World War II.
The celebrations started in Wageningen around midnight where the Liberation flame was lit and torches then taken by runners to other fires all over the country. Germany signed the capitulation documents in Wageningen on May 5, 1945. The south of the country had been liberated months earlier.
The focus of this year’s events is Groningen where journalist Thomas Erdbrink will give the traditional May 5 reading. Prime minister Mark Rutte will then light the Liberation flame and start up the party. Ali B and Typhoon are among the stars performing at the Groningen festival.
In total 14 formal Liberation Day festivals are being staged all over the country: in Zwolle, Leeuwarden, Assen, Almere, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam, Haarlem, Wageningen, The Hague, Roermond and Vlissingen.
Dutch solo performers Kovacs and Nielson, rapper Def P and DJ duo Sunnery James Ryan Marciano are this year’s Liberation Day ambassadors, making whistle stop tours of the 14 festivals by helicopter.
The celebrations end with the traditional May 5 concert on the Amstel river in Amsterdam, which is broadcast live on television and will be attended by king Willem-Alexander and queen Máxima.
Bevrijdingsdag is only an official day off work for most workers once every five years but this year has coincided with Ascension Day, which is a public holiday.
While last year’s festival was marred by bad weather and hail storms, this year will be sunny and dry, with the temperature reaching up to 20 degrees in the south.
The sunshine will continue over the weekend, when it could reach up to 25 degrees, the KNMI weather bureau said.