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Heiligdomsvaart Maastricht: A 7th Year Tradition

This article was originally published on Maastricht Region: to Live.

Last weekend (Thursday to be precise) marked the beginning Heiligdomsvaart, an eleven day religious celebration of the relics of Saint Servaas. Occurring only once every 7 years, the city has dressed up in banners to prepare this celebration of it’s first bishop. We wandered down on Sunday for the chance to witness the rare ceremony of processing the relics.

The highlight of Heiligdomsvaart, from the curious bystander perspective anyway, is the procession of the relics held by the local cathedrals, so that’s the part Dan & I went out to view on Sunday. Saint Servaas naturally took center stage, but St. Labertus and others were also represented with reliquaries and bust. Many bands and choirs provided music throughout the 2 hour parade. A nice little pamphlet was handed out so I was able to follow along with many sections.

I had expected the procession to be a bit like the Easter Monday one that takes place every year, but it actually felt a bit more like Carnival. Lots of fancy dress, although granted much more sober (both in tone and drink). The first portion of the procession seemed to focus around the life of St. Servaas as he became the first bishop of Maastricht and his death. In this section everyone was dressed up in Roman-esque and Medieval style outfits. There were even people riding on horses and floats representing different stages in his life.

After the story-telling part of the procession, the relics themselves were carried out; each accompanied by attendants from their respective churches. The pomp and circumstance surrounding the relics and the processions was pretty interesting, but my fellow parade goers seemed to be taking it all pretty casually. It was a very slow procession too, with many stops and starts as it wound its way around the old parts of Maastricht in a rough circle.

If you’re interested in catching this procession, they are holding again at the end of the Heiligdomsvaart celebration on 10 July at 2pm. In addition to the processions, many cultural events will be taking place, including music, an exhibit of art in the Treasury of the Basilica of Saint Servaas, and theatre shows. If you’d like to learn more, you can visit the Heiligdomsvaart website (Dutch mostly).


Open Day at the Expatriate Archive Centre

If you’re interested in expatriate history/experience, archives, or will just happen to be in Den Haag, you should swing by the Expatriate Archive Centre for their Open Day.




Scheduled events include:

  • 10 am – Opening ceremony by Deputy Mayor Mrs Marjolein de Jong, Alderman for International Affairs
  • 12.30 – 13.30: Lunchtime concert by members of the New Dutch Academy
  • 17.00 -  17.45: Debate “What is an expatriate?” led by Professor Dr Keetie Sluyterman

When not in the midst of events, you can look at journals, photos, letters, and other ephemera through which expats have been recording and sharing their lives in the wide world. The folks who run the Archive Centre are great and very passionate. I have to work, but I hope you get the chance to swing by. The Centre will be opened at 9 am on June 9th. Be sure to get their early for the best refreshments.

The Boekenfestijn Returneth

This article was originally published on Maastricht Region: to Live.

Once again the Book Festival is descending on Maastricht to please readers of all ages with titles at cut rate prices. We visited this free event at the MECC last year and enjoyed digging through the long tables of fiction, nonfiction, and comic books to find just the right ones to read. Discounts range from 60-90% off the cover prices, so if you want some Dutch and/or English reading material, you should make the time to check it out.

I’m sure the available books vary greatly, but I recall an event well organized by subject into a variety of sections. Bring a big shopping bag and maybe a cart with wheels; most people seem to walk out with 10 books or more!


The Boekenfestijn’s fiction collection is big, with lots of best sellers in both hard and soft cover. I found that science fiction and fantasy (my personal favorites) were well covered in both languages, as was classical fiction and children’s literature. The English & Dutch sections were on separate tables to speed your reading.


The non-fiction section is probably twice the size of fiction and arranged by well-posted subject. As is the usual practice in nonfiction, the languages were mixed on the tables, but there are enough English books to keep readers of that language browsing for a while. I consider this one of the prime opportunities for English-speakers to get their hands on non-fiction in Maastricht.


I don’t know for sure, but I hear that college level textbooks, including ones used by Maastricht University, are a steal at the Boekfestijn. I recall seeing a lot of science and medical texts, so students won’t want to miss this.

Graphic Novels & Comic Books

I couldn’t wrap this article up without a word about the comic books available. The year we attended there were no fewer than 3 tables of graphic novels. They are primarily European and in Dutch, but a few English language gems lay scattered around. Dutch-translate manga were also highly visible and the prices make it easy to pick up an entire series.

So what are you waiting for? The Boekfestijn in Maastricht runs from May 5th through the 8th, 10 am – 9 pm (except on Sunday which is 10 am to 6 pm). If you can’t make it, but still want to take a look, the organizers arrange these festivals all over the Netherlands and Belgium throughout the year. Enjoy!

A TEFAF Observer’s Experience

This article was originally published at Maastricht Region: to Live.

Every year since it’s inception, the TEFAF art and antique fair has brought to Maastricht intriguing art, a flurry of cultural activities, and a fresh wave of opulence as it is visited by a 10,000 collectors, dealers, and the curious. From March 18th to the 27th, the main event is the fair itself, but you can also visit the myriad of regular art galleries in Maastricht, catch the Antiquarian Book & Art Fair, or attend one of the many theatre events that are scheduled to coincide with TEFAF. Jazz Maastricht even presents 2 nights of shows for jazz fans (25th and the 26th of March).

With its 55 euro day ticket (110 euro for the full event) and the high value of the art on display, it is fair to say that the TEFAF is not for the average person. But if you have an interest in art and want to see items that otherwise are mostly kept in private collections, at least one visit to the TEFAF in your lifetime is well worth your time. Here are a few tips to make the most of your adventure:

1) Don’t go it alone. I attended TEFAF for the first time this year and went alone. Sadly, I found I tired of the event far too rapidly and ended up missing many interesting works of art. The TEFAF is a huge fair and deserves the time it takes to see the variety of items in all its sections. Plus purchasing day-tickets in pairs will save you money.

2) Treat it like a museum. The TEFAF fills the MECC space up beautifully and if you’ve ever been in the building for less prestigious events, you’ll be shocked by how different the space can look. Enjoy the rich atmosphere and admire the art and antiques, but refrain from touching.

3) Travel light. I spent 3 hours in TEFAF last Saturday and after flipping through my catalog, I didn’t see half the artwork on display. You’ll be walking around a lot, so sturdy shoes and light handbags are a must. The show has constant security concerns too, so don’t bring your camera or anything else they might consider suspicious.

4) Eat inside. You could find cheaper food outside the TEFAF (at a distance or in the hospital), but if you’ve already bought a ticket you may as well stay inside and get the full experience. Beside, the food is actually quite good. I had a small quiche for lunch during my visit, and I also saw dim sum, pastas, and a sushi bar.

5) Ask questions, but don’t be a pest. Each gallery has a booth and, appropriately, attendants working it who have a lot of knowledge. If you’re really curious about something ask. But keep in mind these people are also there to sell the artwork you are perusing. If you’re definitely not buying, don’t take up too much of their time

6) Enjoy yourself. The TEFAF was my first art fair of this caliber and I don’t have many other experiences to compare it too, but it you’re not enjoying yourself, something is wrong. For art-lovers, the TEFAF is a not-to-be-missed activity in Maastricht (at least once). Be sure to make the most of it.

Charity Event to Support the Tsunami Victims

Because people need your help. Origami and music as well as other events will be going on during this charity event. We’ll be checking it out. Hope to see you there.

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