A party for the people
Unlike the majority of summer festivals, Kwakoe Festival isn’t about famous pop acts and DJs or overpriced beer and long toilet queues. Instead, this traditional multicultural gathering, now in its 36th edition, is all about bringing people and cultures together for a vibrant combination of food, drink, dance and sport. Its origins lie in celebrating the abolition of slavery in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles on 1 July 1863, and the name ‘Kwakoe’ comes from a statue erected to commemorate the momentous event.
Something for everyone
Over the course of its five weekends, the festival attracts around 300,000 visitors, making it one of the biggest events on the Amsterdam calendar. Each weekend the larger stages are the centre of the action, providing a fun selection of DJs, live music and dance workshops. There’s also a large Caribbean market and an area that caters especially for younger visitors, with loads of family friendly entertainment on offer all day long.
The picnic atmosphere of Kwakoe may be a million miles from the city’s posher eateries, but one of the biggest draws of the event is its collection of street food vendors – many of which only participate in this annual event, so make the most of them. From juicy ribs dripping in exotic Surinamese sauce, to spicy Korean tacos that make your tongue tingle, or stalls that stop off in the Middle East and Africa, you’ll find tasty treats from all over the globe. The result is typically repeat trips to Bijlmerpark until your belt buckle is straining. Read more about the Kwakoe Street Food Court (in Dutch).
If all that snacking is taking its toll, worry not, as another key part of the festival’s programme is the Kwakoe Cup. Euro 2012 may be over but football teams from numerous nationalities (and of numerous ages) will compete over the five weekends in order to get their hands on the trophy. Anyone can form a team and submit it to the competition
When and where
The 2012 edition of the Kwakoe Festival begins on the weekend of Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 July. It continues on 27/28 July, 4/5 August, 11/12 August and ends on 18/19 August. Bijlmerpark is open from the morning and through the evening. Entry is free but you’ll undoubtedly want to invest in a meal, or two, or three.