One of the finest event locations in the Netherlands is definitely the former island of Ruigoord in the middle of the port of Amsterdam.
It’s literally a cultural free haven for artists who squatted in the village in the 1960s to prevent the city extending the harbour into the small village. After fighting off the water and the government they found themselves in a new battle for survival. This time, it’s the professionalisation and abundance of (music) festivals everywhere. Manifestival is their answer.
By organising Manifestival for the first time they hope to secure their future by having extra income for the foundation that runs the village, aptly called Landjuweel (or Land Jewel), to keep up with modern standards. The concept is surprisingly simple but very effective: ask every promoter who organises events at Ruigoord to host a stage and decorate it all with the regular Ruigoord artistry.
What you get is a crazy mix of music styles and people that are all familiar with the location, but not with each other per se. There is banging techno, goa trance, your regular old house, acoustic music, a hippy market, a church (for the after party) and little places to venture into the unknown. What prevails through everything is the open-mindedness of the visitors that sort of seems to come with this unique location.
Given that it’s the festivals first time, they have done a great job. Of course, they have the experience and have teamed up with an experienced production team. Still, it’s not easy putting together a new concept and they did a nice job with a lot of potential for the future. The main thing to improve here is getting people to the festival itself.
The stages felt empty even when the festival was well underway and notably had it’s effect on the atmosphere. The music wasn’t as exciting as could be. Sure, regular names in the scene are up to the challenge of making a really good party. But it doesn’t come close to the line-up of, say, Pitch festival, which was held on the same weekend in Amsterdam.
Manifestival is a nice festival with possibilities for the future. And for a lot of regular Ruigoord (festival) goers another great excuse to dress up and wander around the old island. That’s the strength of 50 years of creative people in a small village. It permeates everything that goes on there and that’s a good thing.