Redhead Day

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Redhead Day (Roodharigendag in Dutch) is the name of a Dutch summer festival that takes place each first weekend of September in the city of Breda, in the Netherlands. The two-day festival is a gathering of people with natural red hair, but is also focused on art related to the colour red. Activities during the festival are lectures, workshops and demonstrations which are aimed specifically at red-haired people. The festival attracts attendance from 50 countries and is free due to sponsorship of the local government. To be classified a 'Redhead', each participant must not have altered their original hair color in anyway (origingy).



Many redheads together in mostly green clothing at the first Redheadday in 2005

The festival started in 2005 unintentionally by the Dutch painter Bart Rouwenhorst in the small Dutch city Asten. As a painter, he was inspired by artists like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Gustav Klimt. Both of these artists created dramatic portraits of women, and both artists made famous paintings depicting redheaded women.

To follow the footsteps of his favourite painters, Rouwenhorst planned an exhibition of 15 new paintings of redheads. Finding models was problematic, since redheads are rare in the Netherlands, only 2% of the population had natural red hair. To find models, an advertisement was placed in a local newspaper. However, instead of 15, 150 models volunteered. Not wanting to turn down so many potential models, Rouwenhorst decided to choose 14 models, organise a group photo shoot for remaining redheads, and have a lottery to decide by chance who would be the 15th and final model. This happening turned out to be the first Redheadday.

That year, the focus was on red-haired women only, since they were asked to volunteer to pose for the paintings. At the events in later years, the aim was to attract redheaded men as well as women, but still the sexes are not equally distributed. The first meeting attracted 150 natural redheads.[1] Most attendees wore green clothing by request.

At the time, the event competed for publicity in the local newspapers in Asten with a local pumpkin contest. However, the Dutch national press made the event headline news. The mayor of Asten mentioned later that the event led to the first ever front-page publicity about the city of Asten in the national press.


Hundreds of redheads together in 2007

The second event was organised in 2007, in and around the main church of Breda. On September 2, 2007, 800 redheads went to the city. The dress code was white. The festival was opened by the mayor of Breda, unveiling a painting of 50 redheads. The festival poster contained a picture of a redheaded model (Milanne) in a wedding dress. Redheaded children were allowed off school for a week because of this event. This holiday still continues for some schools in The Netherlands.[citation needed]


Thousands of redheads together in 2008

On 7 September 2008, about 1,500 to 2,000 redheads from 15 countries went to Breda to celebrate the third redheadday. The program consisted of 42 activities, including exhibitions of 40 artists. The dress code was black. The program was multi-lingual for the first time and the press coverage was worldwide. Articles appeared in newspapers from Norway to Hong Kong and Chile. In 2008 some Dutch calendars started noting the first Sunday of September as the official redheadday, a day honoring redheads. It complements Mothers Day and Father's Day, the celebrations honoring parents.


The 2009 event took place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 September. The location was again the city of Breda. On Saturday, the focus was on visitors from abroad. On Sunday, the main event took place, with the traditional group photo in the main city park of Breda. There were about 50 activities, ranging from large artistic photo shoots by artists, to workshops with children, and lectures on different aspects of red hair.



The 2010 event took place on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 September. Again there were about 50 activities, ranging from large artistic photo shoots by artists, to workshops with children, and lectures on different aspects of red hair. This year however, the nature of the event was more international. Program booklets were provided in three languages (Dutch, English and German) and groups of redheads appeared with t-shirts and flags reflecting their home country, like Germany, France and Italy. This year, all hotels in the city center were booked full. The organisation estimated that 4,000 people with natural red hair came from 30 countries. Russian news made a report on the event.


The 2011 event lasted from Friday September 2 to Sunday September 4. On Friday, an unofficial opening was held for the volunteers and some visitors from the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Ireland and the US. This year, there were more photoshoots. The organisation estimated that despite the forecasted rain, the same number of visitors came to Breda, this time from over 50 countries. Russian news made a report on the event again.


Future meets are planned to take place in Breda on the first weekend of September; the dates are: 1st and 2nd of September 2012, 31st of August and 1st of September 2013, 6th and 7th September 2014, and the 5th and 6th of September 2015. So far, at each event, the number of visitors has grown spectacularly, even during the rainy 2008 gathering. To compensate, the form or city location of the event may change in the future.


  1. ^ Spencer, Clare (9 September 2009). "People get red-dy". BBC News Magazine. BBC. Retrieved 10 September 2009. 

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