What does a city look like during the corona outbreak? Photographer Annelien Nijland is documenting the daily reality of one-and-a-half metre life. Part 6: Woningsdag.
It was a bit of a disappointment: King’s Day 2020. The wild celebrations that usually put Utrecht on the map were more of a polite tea party this year. No heaving orange masses, no bands on street corners, no kids playing violins, no edging through Loeff Berchmakerstraat or Breedstraat shoulder-to-shoulder, no brightly coloured blankets displaying second-hand junk for sale, and not a beer to be seen.
But never fear: we still had orange cream slices, and lines of locals queuing outside the bakers to buy them. The Dutch flag hung on many a facade. The national anthem sounded in chorus, sung from windows at 10 a.m. The odd walker or cyclist clad from top to toe in orange braved the deserted streets. There was a ‘Woningmarkt Drive-Thru’, distributing boxes of festive products from local businesses. And at 4 p.m., the national ‘cheers moment’ gave rise to the occasional mini balcony party.
‘King’s Day in Utrecht quiet and controlled,’ was the headline in the next day’s paper. The only incident was when police had to evacuate people from an over-full park. In general, people were so compliant that a council representative expressed her compliments. This was the highlight of the most boring King’s Day in living history. The orange feather boas went back into the wardrobe with two comforting thoughts: it was all in a good cause, and we’ve always got next year.