Back to the very first Illumination Week
On a foggy and windless Saturday evening in October 1973, the windmills in Kinderdijk are lit for the first time. What started with the lighting of only a few windmills, has grown over the years into the Illumination Week as we know it today. Now that the fiftieth edition is just around the corner, we have delved into the history books to see how this event once started.
In 1973, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Dutch Mill Association (in Dutch: Vereniging de Hollandsche Molen), the very first National Mill Day took place on Saturday 6 October. This resulted in a nice turn of events, because on this first Saturday in October, the windmills in Kinderdijk were literally put in the spotlight for the first time. And not only on Saturday 6 October the mills were illuminated, also on Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 October people could enjoy “the mills in floodlight”.
Miller Cock van den Berg still remembers this Saturday in 1973 as if it were yesterday, when he was only 13 years old. He says: “I remember very well that it was almost windless and quite foggy that first evening. Since it was new, we had a lot of visitors, but unfortunately the fog that had built up meant that visitors couldn’t see much of the illuminated mills.” During this first edition it was already possible to sail along the mills in the evenings on board the tour boat. Cock continues: “To allow people to fully enjoy this unique image, the mills were oriented towards the northeast, so that visitors had the best view from the Middelkade.”
The volunteers from the Kinderdijk playground association have been installing the lamps around the windmills for years, and in 1989 the first edition of the Mill Market (in Dutch: Molenmarkt) also took place in the village. As can be read in a local newspaper from 13 September 1989: “Following the festive atmosphere that prevails around the mills these days, the town of Kinderdijk has taken the initiative to organize some more around this. This has resulted in, among other things, a fun Mill Market.” And Kinderdijk continues to innovate, because a new variant of the Mill Market will be introduced during this anniversary year.