Netherlands marks the return of famous herring festival in The Hague

Herring Day celebrations in the Dutch seaside town of Scheveningen.
Herring Day celebrations in the Dutch seaside town of Scheveningen. Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Philip Andrew Churm
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Vlaggetjesdag, a local holiday marking the arrival of fresh herring, was again held in Scheveningen after a three-year break.


After a three-year break, the Dutch festival of Vlaggetjesdag or Little Flags Day took place in Scheveningen on Saturday, bringing together more than 200,000 visitors to celebrate the fishermen off to bring in fresh herring.

The holiday, which is historically marked on the Saturday preceding the Pentecost, was named after the fishing boats which would be decorated with small colourful flags as their captains tested their engines and adjusted compasses before setting off to hunt for the local delicacy.

The holiday, which also used to be held in the fishing towns of Ijmuiden and Vlaardingen, has over the years grown into a full-blown festival, with Scheveningen hosting a fair and an auction for the first barrel of herrings.

Thilo is a tourist from Germany and came to The Hague for the celebration, enjoying the popular fish as well as music and excellent weather.

"We are here from Germany and doing vacation and we heard about this festival here. So, we're coming here," he said.

"We enjoy it because it's a sunny day and to go out without any mask or anything, it's great. We enjoy it."

Arthem, a fish market worker, explained why he thought the festival was so special.  

"[It's a] nice day and people are happy. We are making herring for them, fresh herring, and giving it away so that they can taste it."

"And the fun is that a lot of people who come here have never tasted it before and they like it. So then we have a good day also," he explained.

"Although most of this year's activities took place on land, spectators could admire dozens of moored cutters and small fishing boats in the harbour."

With visitors from across the Netherlands and Germany, Vlaggetjesdag is as much of a celebrated tourist event as a gastronomic experience.

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