The biggest party in the Netherlands: The Vierdaagsefeesten 2019 in Nijmegen

What are these Vierdaagsefeesten?

If you’re looking for the best party to go to this week, then Nijmegen is your destination. This week (July 13 – July 19) the Vierdaagsefeesten starts, which will have the city of Nijmegen buzzing with activities, music, performances and of course the world-famous Vierdaagse walk.

It all started in 1909 when the NbvLO, the Dutch association for physical exercise organized the Vierdaagse afstandmarsen (four-day walking marches): a 140 km walk, 35 km each day. Mostly military groups walked. Of the 306 male participants, only ten were civilians.

Israeli soldiers on the first day of Vierdaagsefeesten 1967. Photo credits: Eric Koch/ Anefo from Wikimedia commons

The international four-day walking marches in Nijmegen has since grown to become the largest walking event in the world. Over 45,000 participants (from all over the world) walk for four days in Nijmegen and its surrounding cities and villages. Depending on their age and sex, they walk in total 120, 150 or 200 km. In the end, they finish at the famous Via Gladiola (the St Anna Street in Nijmegen, aptly renamed for this day). On completing the walk participants traditionally receive flowers (these gladiolas) from their loved ones and the Vierdaagse kruisje from the organization.

The addictive walk

In this week Nijmegen and indeed the entire region is in a different mode. The participants of the walk receive all the help they can get, be it housing, food, medical care etcetera. Everyone alongside the route is cheering the walkers on, giving them food and drinks and playing music. Essentially they make sure that the difficult task of the walk (and it can be pretty gruesome) is supported as much as possible. The atmosphere is pretty unique as a lot of participants will tell you. Walking the four days each year in Nijmegen has become an addiction for many.

Can kids participate at the Vierdaagsefeesten 2019?

They have a specially curated route for kids where they can walk through the city center, participating in fun activities along the way! They walk only for 2 – 3 kilometers through locations like Kronenburgerpark, Waalkade, and Grote Markt, so it’s a nice way for them to explore the city in another way.

What about the non-walkers?

Now, what are the rest up to? The people that do not walk, well…. they party. 😉 Growing larger every year, starting from this week, the whole city of Nijmegen is awash with music, performances, markets, cultural events, the famous Vierdaagsefeesten and more! Artists and musicians from all over the world gather in the city center where they, in many different locations, perform. In 2018 over 1.6 million people visited Nijmegen during the festivities. It really is the biggest party in the Netherlands!

What else is on offer at Vierdaagsefeesten 2019?

It is quite impossible to name all the events going on in this week in Nijmegen, but you’re sure to find something of your liking. Visit their website for a daily overview. And join the party!

Will you be attending? Let us know in the comments! 

Feat image source: Ger Loeffen/wikipedia
Erik Janssen
Erik is Firmly footed in Nijmegen and is an editor at a local newspaper called De Nijmeegse Stadskrant. He works in the field of environmental finance at BankTrack, a watchdog of banks and their financing regarding environment, sustainability and human rights. He considers himself a Sherlockian.


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