Emma Quilligan and Annemien Brugging are (partly) Zwolle residents

Liberation Festival fits the character of the Heart City

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Emma Quilligan and Annemien Brugging have formed the festival management of Liberation Festival Overijssel since 2017. Tens of thousands of people travel from all over the country to Zwolle for it. Beyond the music and that festival atmosphere, they presumably also discover the beauty and character of the Heart City. People from Zwolle like to put their backs into the event. "More than 2,500 people work on the festival, including eight hundred volunteers. This event is really carried by the city. And I think that is typically Zwols...", says Annemien.

Photographer: Veenstra Visual

Emma: "This is really an industry, some people sometimes underestimate that. Ten people work on the festival for much of the year. Hundreds are added in the last days. During the festival we have to arrange dinner for 2,500 people, for example, for the more than 800 volunteers, artists and cooperation partners. Our job is to make all the ends meet. This is so intensive especially from spring onward that you sometimes develop a bit of a love/hate relationship with the festival."

For all audiences

Annemien: "But that feeling completely disappears on the day itself. The atmosphere on the festival grounds and the enthusiasm of the people remains great. You see that all target groups feel at home here. We also focus on that explicitly, while I have always learned that it is the worst conceivable marketing strategy. But it works. We have a friendly atmosphere and a large part of our audience grows with us. Children first come to the Family Meadow with mom and dad, then as teenagers on their own, and then they come with their own children. And then when they pick up something from the message in addition to a great day..."

Celebrating freedom

Emma: "We find that content very important ourselves. We find organizing only 'a party' less interesting. We also want to put something of significance down, which makes you feel even more like you are celebrating freedom. That message is everywhere on the site. Whether it is the words of the presenter, the poetry on the deco signs or the different themes we use in the areas of the festival. With that we also fit very well with the character of Hartstad Zwolle. Our festival, I think, has developed along with the city. We have both grown tremendously in the last twenty years. And Park de Wezenlanden is a top location: how many cities are there where you can organize such a big event on the edge of the inner city?"

One big family

Annemien: "The cooperation of governments, organizations and companies is very great in Zwolle. We sometimes hear different noises about this from other liberation festivals and the cooperation of all the volunteers is great. Some people have been taking two weeks off for years to help us. We ourselves started as interns in 2008 and 2009. Even then we heard that we would join a family. And we really did. The willingness of Zwolle residents is very high. Together with the accessibility of the inhabitants and the excellent facilities, that makes Zwolle a very attractive city for me."

Photographer: Veenstra Visueel

A crazy contrast

Emma: "Even with bad news or down times, the volunteers continue to stand behind us. That is very special. With the festival you sometimes see a crazy contrast in that respect: in the years that are less financially, the public can still be very enthusiastic about an edition. That is why it is very difficult for us to say when the festival is successful. For us it is a combination of many factors. We don't want to think commercially, but in the end, of course, a festival like this costs a lot of money."

Weather Science

Annemien: "The weather plays a big role in this regard, of course. We look at the forecasts weeks in advance and developed a complete science of analyzing all the weather apps. While knowing that you have zero influence on it. Last year moderate weather was also predicted, but in the end it was sunny and we were able to receive a record number of visitors. After two corona years, everyone was ready for the festival."

Mark Rutte

Emma: "This year we are expecting a lot of people again. We have a wonderful program with many special acts and activities as well as the big names on the main stage: Froukje, S10, Bökkers, Tabitha, Altin Gün, Son Mieux and DI-RECT. What is special is that the National Celebration of Liberation is in Zwolle this year. Prime Minister Rutte ignites the Freedom Fire with us." Annemien: "Whether we ourselves have moments of enjoyment during the festival? At least from the atmosphere and the enthusiasm of the people. And sometimes towards the end of the afternoon you know that the turnout is fine and the organization is running well. Then you feel a burden fall from your shoulders and you can enjoy yourself a little ."

The top 3 from Emma and Annemien

  • "Zwolle is incredibly beautiful from the water. We discovered that when we first organized the City Festival. We rented boats from Giethoorn then. Those felt like toys to us. We sailed some laps...nowadays there are plenty of opportunities to sail through the beautiful canal."
  • "If you like tasty cakes or a delicious lunch you're in the right place at Jantje's Lief on Mandjesstraat. Also a tip for young parents: Jantje's Lief is kidsproof!"
  • "We can't get out from under Park de Wezenlanden. That is not only the perfect location for the Liberation Festival, but also the place for walking, rollerblading, sports and walking the dog. Or to enjoy at the Park Pavilion. By the way, this location will be our Press&Guest space on May 5 and a fine base for quietly experiencing the festival.

More info on Liberation Festival Overijssel

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