3 October festivities

On October 3rd, from early morning until late at night, the people of Leiden celebrate the end of the siege by the Spaniards in 1574.

In the 16th century, the Spaniards besieged Leiden twice, aiming to starve the population. The story goes that the then-mayor Van Der Werff offered his own body to his citizens to satisfy their hunger. During the last siege, approximately one-third of Leiden’s population perished.

The siege came to an end when the Watergeuzen (literal translation: sea beggars) came to Leiden’s rescue. They flooded a large part of the province, allowing them to reach and liberate Leiden with their boats. The Watergeuzen brought herring and white bread and distributed them to the starving population. On October 3rd 1574 the Spanish troops fled, leaving behind only a leftover meal in a large pot: hutspot. This is a dish of boiled and mashed potatoes, carrots and onions. Every year, the people of Leiden celebrate “Leids Ontzet” with a two-day festival. The city turns into one big celebration with a large fair, herring and white bread distribution, and, of course, the traditional eating of hutspot.

Almost everyone in Leiden has the day off on October 3rd, so the festivities also extend to October 2nd throughout the city. Join the Leiden residents and experience it for yourself!

On the organization’s website, you will find the complete program and more information.