Constitution Festival in The Hague, 28-29 March 2014

Saturday, 29 March 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the Dutch Constitution – the oldest in the world after the American Constitution. The National Committee for the Bicentenary of the Kingdom has chosen this special and festive moment to organise its second national event.

On 28 and 29 March, the city of The Hague will provide the setting for the Constitution Festival: all sorts of activities will be going on. Doors that are normally closed to the public, like those of the Catshuis and Trêveszaal where the cabinet meets every Friday, will open just for this occasion. There will also be theatrical performances and debates, and a programme of open-air events.

Doors will open

On 29 March, around 25 institutions in The Hague that have a connection with the Constitution will open their doors to the public. They will be the setting for a programme showcasing their importance to the people of the Netherlands. Visitors can follow the Constitution Trail through the city, connecting all these institutions.

In addition to the one-off opening of the Catshuis and Trêveszaal, the following places will be open: the King’s Office, the Hall of Knights, the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Peace Palace, the Council of State, the Supreme Court, Chancery of the Netherlands Orders of Knighthood, the National Archives, the Netherlands Court of Audit, the Council for the Judiciary, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the Ministry of Security and Justice, The Hague city hall, the Historical Museum of The Hague, the Social and Economic Council, the Association of Netherlands Municipalities, the Prison Gate Museum, the Education Council, the Koninklijke Schouwburg, the National Ombudsman (in the ‘Ombudsbus’) and ProDemos.

Theatrical performances, debate and open-air programme

The National Committee and various partners are organising a number of special festival activities. Over 60 organisations are taking part in guided tours, debates, theatrical performances and workshops. Activities on Friday include the symposium ‘Constitution: beacon or ballast?’ and the Night of the Constitution in het Paard van Troje and Humanity House. On Saturday, schoolchildren will hold a debate in The Hague city hall. In the Oude Zaal of the House of Representatives, the debate on giving women the vote will be dramatically re-enacted (with a role for Aletta Jacobs – the first woman to obtain a university decree in the Netherlands). At the ABN AMRO Bank on Kneuterdijk, actors will perform a fictitious dialogue between King Willem I and Gijsbert Karel van Hogendorp, one of the authors of the Constitution of 1814.

And there will be a host of open-air activities on 29 March, including jousting tournaments, workshops and demonstrations by the Dutch army on the Plein, around the Hofvijver and on Korte and Lange Voorhout. The Constitution will put in an appearance too, in the form of a gigantic book, on Lange Voorhout. It will also be Dutch History Day. Take a trip in the Skywatch on Hofplaats to get a bird’s eye view of it all!

General information

These activities will form the core of the Constitution Festival 2014. The festival can be visited free of charge, and the mix of activities makes it suitable for young and old. The Saturday programme starts at 10.00 and ends at 17.00.

A word from Ank Bijleveld-Schouten and Jozias van Aartsen

Ank Bijleveld-Schouten, chair of the National Committee: ‘It’s thanks to our Constitution that you can go where you want, be who you want, and express your opinions freely in the Netherlands. Those rights are enshrined in the Constitution – the most important document our country’s ever had. I think that’s worth celebrating. So experience the Constitution on 28 and 29 March and enjoy the Constitution Festival!’

Jozias van Aartsen, deputy chair of the National Committee and Mayor of The Hague: ‘I would like to invite you all to experience the Constitution Festival in The Hague. There are all kinds of special activities planned for 28 and 29 March. You can find out for yourself how important our Constitution is, and what a vital role the various administrative authorities in our city play. And you’ll have a unique chance to see behind doors that are normally closed to the public, like those of the Catshuis and the Trêveszaal. So come to the festival and experience The Hague and the Constitution!’

Bicentenary of the Kingdom

The Constitution Festival is being organised by the National Committee for the Bicentenary of the Kingdom together with its sister committee in The Hague and the municipality of The Hague. It is the second national event organised by the National Committee. The bicentennial celebrations kicked off on 30 November 2013, with events including the landing of Prince Willem Frederik in Scheveningen and the Kingdom Concert. The celebrations will continue up to 26 September 2015 and will comprise six national events.