Dutch festival a fantastisch success!

The iconic Holland Festival celebrated everything Dutch on Saturday, April 27, as the event marked its 50th anniversary.

Held under cover this year at Caribbean Gardens, Vic, event manager Paul Rubens, of the Rotary Club of Casey, said they used every inch of the venue’s 7,000m2 under roof area.

The festival proceeded without a hitch, with attractions such as Compagnie Batavia from the Eighty Years’ War – equipped with halberds, pikes and armour, who fired their muskets over the lake – and cultural food galore.

“It was amazing. There was a fantastic buzz in the air – it was just like a big festival in The Netherlands,” Paul said. “We expected 4,000 to 5,000 people and we got well over 6,000.

“We had a lot of Dutch exhibitors there as well. There were around 100 sites, and they were all taken.”

Other attractions included Dutch costumes dating back 150-200 years, which were displayed on mannequins.

“We also had a DJ and a saxophonist who came out from the Netherlands,” Paul said.

The festival, which aligned with the celebration of King’s Day in Netherlands, was catered for families. Tickets were $22 for an adult, $16 for concession and $10 for children, who then had unlimited access to all the rides the festival had to offer.

Paul and his team had been working on the festival’s specifics since November 2023.

This year’s event raised $90,000 for charity, including Interplast, Wheelchairs For Kids, The Rotary Foundation and many other local and international charities.

“One hundred per cent of the proceeds will go to charity via the Rotary Club of Casey,” Paul said. “We doubled or tripled the amount we have made in the past.”

Also present was Netherlands Ambassador Ardi Stoios-Braken, who visited the festival between 1pm and 4pm.

“The embassy has always supported us in advertising and other ways, and I felt honoured by her presence,” Paul said.

The festival was flooded with the colour orange, a traditional nod to the Royal Dutch family, dating as far back as the 1600s to William the Third, or William the Orange.