A Still World: Landjuweel Music Festival
The village of Ruigoord, 20 minutes outside of Amsterdam, is the sort of place you only stumble upon because a friend of a friend’s friend’s friend tells you about it. Luckily for me, my friends Simrit and Ridha (who happens to be Dutch) told me about the Landjuweel Music Festival (August 6th – 10th) happening in Ruigoord – a village that was abandoned in the early 70s, and then squatted by artists – some of whom still live in the village today, others who have their studios and work spaces in the village.
The homes (pictured above), are quaint and whimsical, resembling something one might stumble upon through an accidental slip down the rabbit hole. At the very center of the village stands the abandoned church – now the epicentre of all the community’s cultural activity, and also the first church I’ve encountered with a fully operational bar within it. The church plays host to theatre and music festivals, as well as some pretty legendary full moon parties and raves.
An enigmatic little symbol – the symbol of Ruigoord, that looks like a trishul with a set of eyes staring out at you, stands proudly atop the abandoned church (pictured below), and is found throughout the village. Some of the residents also wear it around their necks.
The picturesque little village describes itself as “a green oasis in a world where everything seems to get more egocentric and materialistic” – a statement that is accentuated by the signs of industrialisation that loom menacingly in the background of this little piece of artistic Eden (pictured below). The local authorities have been trying to eradicate the artist colony, but its original inhabitants have stood their ground and are still fighting for it, to this day.
The Landjuweel Festival is an annual feature of the village – “a celebration of spontaneous creativity and a labyrinth of silly playfulness.” My kind of wonderland. Though the website is only in Dutch, and doesn’t mention much about the line up, as soon as you step into this parallel universe you are instantly surrounded by music performances, dancing, poetry, meditation workshops, colourful people of every age background country colour camping out over the five days of the festivities.
One of the highlights was a raging performance by a Dutch blues band called My Baby Loves Voodoo (pictured below). Listen to their single Out On Gin here.
A festival rather far off the beaten path, but with a real festival spirit. Would certainly recommend exploring this creative labyrinth for anyone with a penchant for the bizarre.
Photo Credits: Nirupama Belliappa
All images © IndiEarth and EarthSync Pvt. Ltd.