While most things have been cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis, some events are still going on. One of them is the European Songfestival. Rotterdam is hosting the festival because the Netherlands won in 2019 with Duncan Lawrence’s Arcade number (YouTube).
The opening ceremonies are tonight – actually they are going on right now. It isn’t without a bit of controversy: Poland unable to join Eurovision opening ceremony after coronavirus infection from nltimes.nl. Since that article was published Iceland also had a positive corona test. Romania and Malta also decided not to attend the opening ceremony because they are in the same hotel as Poland and Iceland.
The finale will be next weekend, Saturday evening to be exact. I do want to watch at least the beginning of it, since hey, it’s Rotterdam. We will probably get to see a few beautiful shots of the famous bridge:
But normally it is hard to watch the entire songfestival. It doesn’t end before midnight and that means the final results come in after 01:00. It can also be pretty political at times…
Marco said he will watch a bit so that get a bit of the “Dutch feel”. It has been 40 years since the Netherlands hosted the event, and probably another 40 years before we host it again.
Later this evening and tomorrow the Netherlands will be under a “code red” warning for Storm Darcy. Apparently the last time the entire country was under code red was February 2012, before I arrived in the Netherlands.
Dutch issue Code Red weather alert for snowdrifts, blizzard conditions from nltimes.nl. The expected snowfall itself varies anywhere from 2 to 6 inches; it really depends on who you are listening to. The wind is the real problem for traffic, since it will cause snow drifts and limited visibility. Some days it will feel like -15c to -18c (closer to 0F) next week, which is rare in this country. Some news sites are calling this a “once in ten years” event.
And of course, what you would expect to see in this situation…
Empty shelves, of course. That’s the bread area by an Albert Heijn (grocery store).
Some kind soul created a memorial to Chuck Deely outside the Albert Heijn on the Grote Marktstraat:
Chuck Deely (Dutch Wikipedia) was an American street musician that was active in The Hague from the ’90s until his death on January 2017. I can’t believe it has been four years! There will never be anyone like him again.
He has been honored a few ways since his death, including a statue by Central Station:
Google has released their 2020 “Year in Search” page. You can see what trended worldwide or you can see what trended per country (the Netherlands, the United States, the United Kingdom…). One interesting thing is that the trend categories differ per country. For instance the US has a category for games but the Netherlands doesn’t.
Here are the top 5 search terms for the Netherlands:
RIVM (Dutch Health institute)
Verkiezingen Amerika (US Election)
Snappet (apparently this is education learning platform for elementary students, so digital learning)
The second most popular Why? question was Waarom hamsteren we wc papier? or Why do we horde toilet paper? This was apparently so popular back in March and April that it took the second spot, beaten only by Waarom zijn cornflakes uitgevonden? or Why were cornflakes discovered? (?!? Okay.) (On second thought: don’t Google it unless you want a trip to Bizzaro World.)
In other news: every year a Dutch radio channel plays the Top 2000 (Wikipedia) to mark the end of the year. In late November/early December the Dutch vote on their favorite songs and those votes help determine the list. Between Christmas and New Years the radio channel plays those songs. It was first done in 1999 to mark the transition to 2000; it proved so popular that it became a yearly event. This year it will start at midnight on Christmas Day (that is, the first second of Christmas) so that the radio show has an additional eight hours to play the full-length album versions of some songs.
Fun fact: since 1999 there have been only four occasions where Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody did not take the #1 spot. 2020 will be one of those years, with the Dutch country singer Danny Vera taking the top spot with his song Roller Coaster (YouTube).
Yesterday the news broke that the Dutch music festival Parkpop would be moving to Malieveld next year (article from omroepwest.nl in Dutch). The festival has been held at The Hague’s Zuiderpark for the last 40 years. Indeed, the festival gets its name from the fact that it is held at Zuiderpark (Parkpop). In 1992 it claimed the title as the biggest music festival of Europe, drawing over half a mission visitors that weekend (!).
However, location always proved an issue. It’s much easier to get to Malieveld (which is a 2 minute walk from The Hague’s Central Station) than it is to get to Zuiderpark. Another issue was noise: Zuiderpark is surrounded by residential area, whereas Malieveld is not.
The Elfstedentocht is an 11 city ice staking race. The length is about 200 kilometers (120 miles) and is held in the north of the Netherlands in the Friesland province. It can most accurately be described as “the event that stops the Netherlands”. Or it would be, if the weather would cooperate. As you might expect, the race can only be held if the ice is thick enough along the entire course. The last time that happened was 1997. There was a glimmer of hope in 2012, but it didn’t work out. This event averages about 2 million spectators.
About a month ago Marco and I looked at each other and thought of the worst possibility ever: that the weather would finally cooperate and there would be an Elfstedentocht… and the coronavirus.
The city carillonneur played “Paint it Black” from The Rolling Stones on the church bells in Groningen (also in the north of the Netherlands). This is something he does often, but because Mick Jagger saw the video and placed it on his Instagram with 2 million followers, the video quickly went viral. You can read more in Dutch over at nos.nl: Groningse stadsbeiaardier klinkt wereldwijd met Paint it black van The Rolling Stones.
The name of the work is As Slow As Possible (ORGAN/ASLSP) and it started playing in 2001. According to the Wikipedia article, there have been 14 chord changes to date, with the previous chord lasting 6 years and 11 months. Chords are changed by adding or removing organ pipes.
The performance is scheduled to end on September 5, 2640… It’s hard to imagine that.
One of my favorite additions to The Hague in the last five years is the building that houses Primark. Primark is a budget department store which attracts customers in droves (I used to see tourists walk past holding 4 or 5 bags each). I took another photo of the building recently:
I love the color of the stone and the angles of the apartments above. And of course the blue skies definitely help.
In other news:
There’s a chance of a heat wave next week, with temperatures expected to be around 30C or 86F on Wednesday and Thursday. I know some of my American readers would go “Pffft! That’s nothing!” but keep in mind air conditioning is pretty rare in the Netherlands. And a lot of people are now working from home, so no office climate control for us! Time to break out the big fan.
The Hague forbids weekend protest festival against Covid restrictions from nltimes.nl. This was another group who wanted to protest at Malieveld. Originally there were supposed to be 100 attendees but then the organization decided to turn it into a ‘festival’ of sorts, altering speakers and DJs, so the expected attendance rose to 10,000. Considering festivals are banned at the moment, it’s no wonder that this demonstration was also banned. The decision was made by the mayor of The Hague this morning and the group then turned to the courts to get the ban overturned. The courts ruled earlier this evening that the ban could stay in place.
MOJO en Vodafone lanceren streamingplatform largerthan.live from vodafoneziggo.nl. MOJO (a ticket seller) and Vodafone (an internet and phone company) are together launching a streaming platform so that those with a virtual ticket can watch certain performances live from the Ziggo dome in Amsterdam. Fans can watch from their mobile devices or broadcast to the tv. They can also choose what camera angle they want. The most interesting point: at the moment the two companies say the streaming opportunities will continue even after things get back to normal. That could be interesting.
A few weeks back I snapped some photos of musical graffiti by the Spui here in The Hague. Someone was definitely feeling creative:
This area is just outside the city hall. In the background (on the other side of the construction walls) you have what used to be the Dr. Anton Philipszaal (Dutch Wikipedia link) which was torn down in late 2015. The building housed both concert and theatre events.
A larger cultural building is currently being constructed in this spot and will hopefully be finished in 2021. Earlier it was announced that the name would be “Amare”, which is Italian for “to love” or “by the sea”. Even if I never step foot inside, I’ll still be glad to get the area in front of it back – the construction site takes up a huge chunk of the plaza (see also the photo I posted back in 2012 of the Spuiplein).
This afternoon the city centre will be hosting a festival in honor of the street musician Chuck Deely who passed away in January 2017 (where has the time gone, really?).
The festival will be held from 12:00-18:00 in the Grote Markt street. The description says “musicians will be at every street corner”. From 18:00 the musical arts will move to the big stage at the Grote Markt, ending around midnight.