Life in Arnhem - Nijmegen - Foodvalley (NL)
Our region is a very special place to live. But what is it that makes it so special? Where will you be living? What makes it such a comfortable place to be? Well for starters, the region is at the very heart of the province of Gelderland, surrounded by mighty rivers, nature reserves and dikes. Indulge yourself in the rich history and cultural masterpieces. You need never be bored again.
Our region has a rich and varied history. As the oldest city in the country, Nijmegen is an important historical focal point. Other parts of the region also take up a significant part of the history books, however. During the Second World War there was heavy fighting in both Arnhem and Nijmegen, as both the cities were important to the infamous Operation Market Garden. This military operation took place in September of 1944, with the intention to strike a blow at Nazi Germany and hasten the liberation of the Netherlands. The airborne assault focused on securing the all-important bridges over the rivers Maas, Waal and Rhine, so that land forces could use these to conquer the Dutch territory. The bridge at Arnhem, so crucial to the liberation of the Netherlands, turned out to be 'a bridge to far' and the downfall of Market Garden.
On the bridge and in the surrounding areas, the fighting was heavy, and many thousands lost their lives. Numerous monuments throughout the region are dedicated to the ultimate sacrifice made by so many. As the heroic attempt ultimately failed, the war raged on through winter — which set the scene for the terrible Dutch famine of 1944 — and spring, until more successful military actions eventually led to the German surrender on 5 May 1945. On that day, Canadian General Charles Foulkes and German Commander-in-Chief Johannes Blaskowitz reached an agreement on the capitulation of German forces in the Netherlands in Hotel de Wereld in Wageningen. Since then, 5 May has been dubbed Liberation Day ('Bevrijdingsdag') and has become a national holiday in the Netherlands, which is preceded by the Remembrance of the Dead ('Dodenherdenking') on 4 May.
Apart from its rich history, the region has so much more to offer, like wonderful restaurants, luxury stores and trendy nightlife venues. There are also highly popular annually recurring events, that draw people from all over the globe to our region. Arnhem, Nijmegen and Wageningen all three have their own, distinct character. Nijmegen is a proper student town, with the vibe associated to that. People from Arnhem are often seen as being down to earth, and the city is known for its thriving fashion scene, supported by various institutes. Wageningen is also a popular student town, although its character is very different to Nijmegen. Everything is on a smaller, more intimate scale in Wageningen.
The Four Day Marches and Festivities
When the first edition of the Four Day Marches was held back in 1909, nobody would've expected that this annual event would grow out to become one of the largest walking events in the world. It came about because the military wanted to organise some additional training for young soldiers. Participants from over ten barracks walked 150 km in four days. Little did they know that, a hundred years on, this yearly event would see forty thousand participants from all over the world would shed blood, sweat and tears to make it to the finish line, all the while being cheered on loudly by thousands of onlookers.
The Four Day Marches would not be complete without the Four Day Festivities, however. Since 1970 onwards, everything is done to turn the week of the Four Day Marches — which always take place in July — into one huge party. Artists from all over the country come to Nijmegen and turn the entire city into a festival site. The traditional fireworks display is always a popular highlight of the week.
Research concerning the festival gives us some interesting numbers. Visitors to the Festivities always rate them highly — even reaching 8.6 out of 10 in 2015 . 32% of the visitors is from the wider area and 44% is from Nijmegen itself. 25% is from the rest of the country and abroad. Of that 25%, 'only' 3% are international visitors, but that still amounts to approx. 45.000 people. 62% of the visitors will definitely return to the city again during the year, which amounts to 870.000 return visitors who were inspired during the Four Day Festivities. 24% of the partygoers stay with family, friends, in a hotel or on the campsite during the event, showing how hospitable Nijmegen can be to visitors!
While we're on the topic of walking: Oosterbeek, a hamlet close besides Arnhem along the river Rhine, also hosts a famous international walking event. The Airborne March is an event that commemorates the Battle of Arnhem. It pays tribute to the over 1700 British and Polish soldiers who died during the Battle of Arnhem and are buried at Airborne Cemetery in Oosterbeek. It's one of the largest one-day marches in the world. It takes place on the first Saturday of September each year and kicks off all Airborne commemorations in the area.
Liberation Festival Wageningen
The Netherlands was liberated in 1945, and since then, we celebrate our liberty every year on 5 May. In the province of Gelderland, Wageningen takes centre stage: people from all over the country visit the town to enjoy the music festival and appreciate their freedom. The fact that Wageningen receives special attention during this day, makes sense. It's where the official Act of Surrender of 1945 of the German forces was signed. In 1946, the Dutch government decided that Liberation Day should be celebrated on 5 May, except whenever that day was a Sunday, as that would disturb the Christian observance of Sunday rest. In 1968 it was decided that Liberation Day, would be celebrated on 5 May, regardless what day of the week that would turn out to be for any particular year.