No Lectures and Tutorials on October 3 – Leids Ontzet

On October 3, Leiden University celebrates "Leids Ontzet", which means that there will be no lectures or tutorials on the 3rd of October, unless explicitly agreed upon with your individual tutor groups. The University Buildings in The Hague will be open according to their regular opening times. Please note, however, that the Student Information Desk at the Schouwburgstraat will be closed on October 3rd.

What is Leids Ontzet?

Leidens Ontzet (literal translation "Relief of Leiden") is a special day for Leiden and the university. On this day, the city commemorates the Spanish siege and subsequent relief of the city in 1574. As a token of appreciation for the city’s brave resistance, William of Orange founded the University of Leiden on February 8, 1575.

Festivities and traditions

There is an elaborate programme surrounding the 3rd of October, filled with traditions. The city is brimming with activities. There is music in the evenings, a large funfair, street theatre, markets and much more.

Normally, the festivities start on the 2nd of October, the evening before the 3rd. However since this year the 2nd of October is a Sunday (traditional day of rest).This year, the programme starts on the 1st of October and continues until the 3rd of October. The 1st and the 3rd of October is when most events are planned.

On the evening of the 1st of October, there is a parade (Taptoe) staged by various Leiden-associated sport societies and there are stages with musicians to be found everywhere. The 3rd of October starts with the traditional Reveille chanting, for which inhabitants of Leiden gather at 7:00 AM to sing together. There is also a large parade (Grote Optocht) that starts at noon on the 3rd of October. The day concludes with a grand firework display in the evening.

Herring and white bread and Hutspot

The traditional meals associated with the festival are Hutspot and herring and white bread. The 3rd of October provides a good opportunity to these! According to tradition, it was the little orphaned boy named Cornelis Joppenszoon who found a hotpot (hutspot) in the deserted Spanish army camp. Cornelis informed the citizens that Leiden had been freed. It was early morning when the Geuzen (The name for the Dutch resistance’s naval forces), sailed over the Vliet (the canal in centre of Leiden connected to the Vliet river) into the city with a load of herring and white bread on board.

The herring and white bread is handed out for free to the locals of Leiden at Grand Café De Waag. But of course you can also buy herring sandwiches throughout the city! Hutspot, a dish made of boiled and mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions, can be bought at stands and restaurants.

Visit Leiden, find out more!

The third of October provides an excellent occasion to visit Leiden. You can find the exact schedule of the days on the 3 October website (in Dutch).

Last Modified: 22-09-2016