Liberation Day celebrations kick off with midnight fire; parties across the Netherlands

Dutch flag (Photo: Dutchgamer/Wikimedia Commons). (Dutch flag (Photo: Dutchgamer/Wikimedia Commons))

Just before midnight the liberation fire was lit in front of Hotel De Wereld in Wageningen by mayor Geert van Rumund - officially ending Remembrance Day on May 4th and kicking off the Liberation Day celebrations. Today the Netherlands celebrates freedom and being liberated after World War II.

The liberation fire is lit each year in Wageningen, in front of the Hotel De Wereld on 5 Mei Square, AD reports. There in 1945 the agreement was reached about the German surrender. This year Mayor Van Rumund received the liberation fire from British Normandy veteran Ray Lord (91), who picked it up in the British Hull. Over 1,300 hikers in over 70 teams from all across the Netherlands attended the lighting of the fire. They will be taking the fire to their own municipalities.

The National Liberation Day Fire Relay has been a tradition in the Netherlands since 1948. In that year a torch was taken from the British port city of Portsmouth to the D-day beach in Normandy. Nijmegen athletes brought the fire from there to Wageningen.

The national Liberation Day celebration will start at the provincial house in Haarlem, with a reading by actor Nasrdin Dchar, according to AD. Twelve year old Neal de Hoop from Alkmaar will talk about his view on freedom. Prime Minister Mark Rutte will attend. The theme of this year's celebration is "The Power of the Personal Story". Afterwards, the Prime Minister will give a speech in Haarlem, signaling the official start of the festivities in the Netherlands.

Liberation and freedom will be celebrated at 14 large festivals throughout the country. The festivals are taking place in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, Leeuwarden, Groningen, Assen, Zwolle, Almere, Haarlem, Wageningen, Vlissingen, Den Bosch and Roermond. Ambassadors of Freedom this year are the bands De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig and De Staat. They will travel between the large festivals by helicopter throughout the day. Dozens of smaller parties and festivals are also being held across the country.

Like every year, Liberation Day will close with the 5 May concert on the Amstel. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima will attend. Music will be provided by the Metropole Orchestra under the direction of Jules Buckley, with soloists Roel van Velzen and Joy Wielkins, harpist Remy van Kesteren and the ZO! Gospel Choir, according to AD. The National Ballet will also perform.