De Parade is back in town!

Marloes Tervoort, Thursday, June 6, 2013

Travelling theatre festival De Parade is world-famous in the Netherlands. From June to August they play in The Hague, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Amsterdam successively. And even if Dutch summers aren’t exactly known for their tropical character, De Parade turns any summer into a sweltering party. I personally think this is due to the nostalgic feel, with its small circus tents that serve as theatres, the make-shift shacks that serve as temporary restaurants and the whirligig right at the centre. De Parade has a joyful atmosphere that works like a magnet on the audience that mainly consists of hip people in their thirties.

It’s a bit like falling in love. When De Parade comes to town, I become restless and I simply have to go. It all started 15 years ago when all of a sudden there was this buzz; had I heard of that cute little festival with its hippy and fairground-like atmosphere? That summer, I embraced De Parade; what a great atmosphere, what a joy and what nice people! I was late at work and slightly hung over a little bit too often those weeks.  I was there every summer that followed and I witnessed how the festival became more and more successful and draw bigger and bigger crowds. Everybody wanted a piece of the action and tickets were getting harder to come by. The audience also changed and at one point it even got a bit too busy. I may have missed one year as a result of the success.

However, more than 20 years after its inception, De Parade has rediscovered its roots. With 260,000 visitors the festival still attracts a lot more visitors than in the early years but that’s OK. The festival grew with it. There are more amenities now and after a few years the provincials grew tired of this cabinet of curiosa. And now that I have children of my own the festival gives me double joy. In the afternoons I go there with my children, who also like the whirligig. And in the evenings I return with my friends to reminisce about the good old days and create new memories that we can reflect on ten years from now. Still, I'm not looking forward to the time that my daughter bumps into me at the bar. That will be the day that my Parade days are over.