Traditional Hague bonfires to be lit tonight, not New Year's, because of wind
The bonfires on the beaches of Scheveningen and Duindorp in The Hague will be lit a day earlier than planned. The wind is expected to be blowing too hard on New Year's Eve, and thus the wood pallets will go up in flames starting at 11 p.m. on Friday evening.
The municipality of The Hague has announced that wind force 6 or 7 is expected on the beach on New Year's Eve. That is equivalent to wind speeds of about 40 to 60 kilometers per hour. "That poses too great a risk for local residents, spectators and buildings." The mayor of The Hague, Jan van Zanen, called it a downer that the bonfires cannot be lit at the turn of the year itself. "But we have agreed that the fire will only be lit if it is safe to do so. Safety comes first."
Due to the bad weather forecast, the fireworks show and the New Year's party around the Hofvijver will not take place on Saturday evening. The smaller bonfires in the Laak and Escamp districts cannot be lit either. Construction of those was set to begin on Saturday.
Wooden pallets have been piled up on the beaches of Scheveningen and Duindorp in recent days. These stacks may be a maximum of 10 meters high, 10 meters long and 10 meters wide.
The bonfires were a tradition in Scheveningen and Duindorp for many years. Young people from the neighborhoods worked for days to build the highest pile of wood. The situation went awry during the turn of the year from 2018 to 2019. The strong wind then blew smoldering wood across Scheveningen. The shower of burning embers caused more than a million euros in damage there.
It then turned out that the two piles of wood on the beach were much higher than had been agreed with the municipality. The towers were allowed to be 35 meters high, but the Duindorp stack was almost 49 meters high and the one in Scheveningen was over 45 meters. The municipality did not do enough to enforce the rules. The investigation led to the resignation of Mayor Pauline Krikke.
Due to the shower of embers, the bonfires were not allowed on the following New Year's Eve. After that, the bonfires were not allowed to be built up due to restrictions related to the coronavirus. This year, Scheveningen and Duindorp received permission to build up the piles of wood for the first time in four years.
Reporting by ANP