Illumination Week’s 46th edition at Kinderdijk World Heritage
Kinderdijk is all set to embark on its annual Illumination Week, with the launch set for Monday. Up until Saturday September 8, activities are scheduled for every night of the week on the Kinderdijk UNESCO World Heritage premises. To add to the festive cheer, we even have a whole week of great summer weather up ahead!
When we started wondering when the very first edition of Illumination Week took place, it turned out to be a question that even the veteran members of Kinderdijk World Heritage Foundation (SWEK) found hard to answer. Not so for miller Cock van den Berg (57), however. “October 1973”, he resolutely claims, standing squarely on the yard of his windmill, Nederwaard mill number 3. “Back then, it was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Dutch Windmill Association. All we had was a few illuminated mills on that first National Windmill day, which was Saturday only, mind you.” Our tell-tale miller was proven right once again: on October 6, 1973, a small number of Kinderdijk windmills was placed in the spotlights for the very first time.
On October 6, 1973, a small number of Kinderdijk windmills was placed in the spotlights for the very first time
The second edition of National Windmill Day was shifted to the month of May straight away, whereas Illumination Week – or its predecessor – soon moved to September. Van den Berg: “During the initial few years, only the first five Nederwaard mills were cast in floodlights, along with the first four Overwaard ones. The Nederwaard windmills were always turned to face the adjacent cycling trail. Well, if the weather allowed it, that is, because you definitely don’t want your mills with their backs to the wind if there’s a storm brewing from the southwest. The rest of the windmill complex followed later. The first few editions drew some pretty impressive crowds. It was quite a novelty back then, you see.”
As might be expected, organisation of the 45th edition’s events is in the competent hands of the Kinderdijk Playground Association. Over the weekend, its volunteers will be setting up the lights around the millyards. This year, instead of using old-fashioned building site lighting, they will install state of the art LED lights. “They cast a softer light with a more yellow hue”, SWEK’s Arie Steenhouwer adds. “This type of lighting is a great match for the colour of bricks, and it is widely used to cast monumental buildings in the best possible lighting conditions.”
This year, every single windmill will be caught in the beams of four individual LED arrays. Even so, the LED technology used will consume just a fraction of the power required by their old-fashioned halogen bulb counterparts. Steenhouwer: “Your average TV uses more power than these four lamps added together.” With the aid of brand new electronic time switches, all the windmills are set to bathe in the floodlights starting at 8pm sharp. The acquisition of the LED lighting cost about 50,000 euros, the lion’s share of which was provided by our sponsors. The Molenwaard municipality, for instance, accounted for a 10,000-euro sum.
For Cock and his wife Joke (53), this year’s Illumination Week will be very different from previous editions. It’s because of the restauration activities of the mill’s body, which are underway as we speak. Nederwaard 3 is hidden from view by blue tarpaulin sheets, and as a consequence, the couple will have to skip the festival of lights just this once. “Oh well. At least I get to turn in early without all those lights keeping me awake”, van den Berg says jokingly. “Anyway, getting the mill back in prime shape is our main concern right now.”