De Parade, Amsterdam

Nothing quite compares to an autumnal New England fair. Imagine hay rides, candied apples, fried dough, bumper cars, and homemade pies. Now pair that with ox pulling, flower shows, craft fairs, baking competitions, starry nights, and musical acts . . . . a day at the fair in New England is an exciting and eclectic harvest tradition :) In Holland, I’ve yet to come across anything that quite compares, and this is probably amplified by the fact that I’m city-dweller. It’s hard to find that crafty, homespun fervor in the city. But two weeks ago, Amsterdam came close. De Parade is an annual theater tour that stops in Rotterdam, Den Hague, Utrecht, and finally Amsterdam, closing with a massive wrap party. There are over 90 different theater performances, played out across a giant fairground of picnic benches, pavilions, food trucks, bars, and dance parties.IMG_2515

IMG_2509As a few of our favorite clients were in town, Amy (a colleague) and I offered to show them around Amsterdam over the weekend. Amy has been to de Parade before, and only had rave reviews to share. I was delighted to find it mimicked a country fair, with string lights, food trucks, rides, and open air shows.
IMG_2513IMG_2519We found a lovely covered bench, and began to graze, sampling wine, pizza, and colorful pancakes.IMG_2525 IMG_2528IMG_2531IMG_2533Next stop was a large tented pavilion, where we bought pitchers of sangria underneath a canopy of color.IMG_2541IMG_2537IMG_2546IMG_2549IMG_2553IMG_2555We also got a pitcher to go, as a show we had booked into was starting shortly. The Parade is similar to a festival – you arrive for a chosen period of time – a few hours or a whole day – and there is a large timetable showing all the acts that will be performing during your visit. You can then book into certain shows, or spend your time drinking on the lawn and enjoying the food trucks – entirely up to you!IMG_2552The show we saw was dark and strange. I honestly don’t remember the name, because at this point in the evening, too much sangria had been consumed. But I have to say, if we had known the plot line ahead of time, we probably would have given this show a miss, as it was not ideal drunk content. It was a powerful piece that made me think about family, divorce, children growing up, moving out, and death. Not a super happy play!
IMG_2559There was however some humor, as mid-way through the show my cell phone slipped under the bleachers, way out of reach!! We had to wait for everyone to clear, and then hunt down an usher and beg for help in retrieving my phone. I can’t imagine it’s the first time this has happened – but still very embarrassing! That will teach me to look at my phone during a theater show.IMG_2564Following the play, we decided to feast. We were slightly tipsy, very hungry, and eager to dance. So before we lined up for the silent disco, we ordered an array of BBQ platters – everything from smoked squid to chorizo to pulled pork. We also had an array of sides – crispy potatoes, corn on the cob, cole slaw, and big crunchy-grilled carrots.IMG_2568IMG_2571IMG_2572Bellies full, we hit the dance floor. The non-blurry photos are too embarrassing to share, so here are some can’t-quite-make-us-out snaps that do the remainder of the evening justice ;)IMG_2576IMG_2580IMG_2581Unfortunetly, the Parade is over for this year, but you can follow them on facebook or check out their website here for updates on their next stint in town.

xo Ali

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