3 October Festival

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3 October Festival
3 Oktober
Kermis en feest Leidens Ontzet.jpg
The festival in Leiden
Begins2 October
Ends3 October (sometimes 4 October)
Location(s)Leiden, Netherlands

The 3 October Festival (Dutch : 3 Oktober Feest or simply 3 Oktober) is a festival in Leiden, Netherlands, held annually on that date (or on 4 October if it falls on a Sunday)[1] since 1886.[2]


The festival commemorates the anniversary of the 1573–1574 Siege of Leiden, during the Eighty Years' War, when the Spanish Army attempted to capture the city.[3] The first siege was from October 1573 to March 1574, and the Spanish returned in May 1574 for the second siege. The city had neglected, in the interim, to pull down the Spanish fortifications and to lay in provisions, though they were warned; with the citizens in despair, the mayor offered his own body for food in an attempt to keep morale up. Provisions had run out after two months, and the Spanish were not ousted until the night of 2/3 October 1574; by that time thousands of Leidenaren had starved. The army of Watergeuzen ("Sea Beggars") led by William the Silent, Prince of Orange, broke dikes to come the rescue of the occupied city. Due to a North-Western storm the water came all the way. This allowed the 'watergeuzen' to sail to Leiden and led the Spanish to fled. The story goes that they had to leave so quickly that there were pots of carrot and parsnip-stew still cooking on the stoves. This was the first fresh food the people from Leiden had in a long time. The next morning the watergeuzen entered and fed the citizens herring and white bread (haring en wittebrood).[4]

The festival also commemorates the anniversary of the founding of Leiden University by William of Orange the following year.[5]


Dutch herring and white bread (haring en wittebrood) is served for free at the festival

The event is an official city holiday, with a variety of festivities.[6]

Most residents of the city take the day off work to either participate in or enjoy the festival. The event starts the previous evening with a parade staged by various Leiden-associated societies, and continues the following morning with a memorial service in St Peter's Church (Pieterskerk), commemorating the events of the Siege. There is another parade that starts at noon, which concludes with a firework display in the evening.[1]

The traditional meal associated with the festival is herring and white bread.[7][8] These sandwiches are handed out to festival goers for free at the Weigh House (De Waag).[9] Most of the festivities are a short walk from the city's network of canals[10] and the council also provides boat and canoe rides on them. On the evening of the 2nd October as well as the day of the festival, another traditional meal, hutspot (a dish made of boiled and mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions), is available.[11]

The festival includes funfairs and rollercoaster rides

In addition to the regular activities, the festival usually houses a funfair and market, which begins a day or two before the main events itself.[5] Leiden based band Rubberen Robbie's song "Drie Oktober" commemorates the festival, and its lyrics refer to herring, hutspot, drinking and partying.[12]


  1. ^ a b "3 October memorial service". Pieterskerk Leiden. Archived from the original on 1 October 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  2. ^ "Cadeau voor 3 October Vereeniging" (in Dutch). Gemeente Leiden. 17 May 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  3. ^ Film & Television Coll Europe. Routledge. 2012. p. 315. ISBN 9781135102951.
  4. ^ Bruggeman, Robin (3 October 2012). "Haring, wittebrood en hutspot bij het Leids ontzet" (in Dutch). IS Geschiedenis. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  5. ^ a b "3 October: Leiden's Relief". Expatcentre Leiden. 2 October 2010. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  6. ^ "Korte 3 oktober feitjes: Met uitjes..." (in Dutch). Dichbij. 28 September 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  7. ^ McDonald, George (2011). Frommer's Amsterdam. John Wiley & Sons. p. 33. ISBN 9780470979518.
  8. ^ Harmans, Gerard (2011). DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: The Netherlands. Dorling Kindersley. pp. 34–35. ISBN 9781405360746.
  9. ^ "Leidens Ontzet". Holland (official tourist site). Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  10. ^ Austin, Janet; Thomas, Bryn. Western Europe. Lonely Planet. p. 928. ISBN 9781864501636.
  11. ^ de Lange, Jaap (16 September 2013). "Hutspottocht voor kanovaarders" (in Dutch). Dichtbij. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Leidse Liedjes en Muziek" (in Dutch). Leiden Info. Retrieved 5 October 2013.

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