The bonfires at Scheveningen and Duindorp will not be lit this year either. The mayor of The Hague Jan van Zanen announced this on Thursday evening, after a meeting with the builders of the pyres. No bonfires are allowed to be built elsewhere in the city either.
Just like last year, the reason is that due to the corona pandemic, events are probably not allowed to take place. The cabinet will not make clear until December 14 whether relaxation is possible around the turn of the year. “That is too late for the organizers to be able to organize a bonfire responsibly and safely. It also creates too much uncertainty and unacceptable financial risks for the organizers,” Van Zanen writes in a letter to the city council.
The lighting of the bonfires always attracted thousands of visitors on New Year’s Eve. Many hundreds of residents of The Hague came to see the construction from Boxing Day. According to the current corona measures, only events that take place during the day before 5 p.m. are allowed. Van Zanen argued this week with the cabinet for an exception for New Year’s Eve, also because a fireworks ban has been announced to relieve healthcare, the police and the fire brigade.
Van Zanen says that there have been “several constructive discussions” with the organizers of the bonfires, and that everything is being done to allow them to continue in 2022. The builders in Duindorp say on their Facebook page that they regret the decision “strongly” “after all the energy we have put into this event”, but also write that they understand that “there are no other options”. The builders of the Scheveningen fire say on their Facebook page that “unfortunately” it will not take place, “despite the efforts of our mayor until the last moment”.
Tradition since the eighties
The bonfires have been a tradition in The Hague since the early eighties. They were canceled two years ago because the builders were unable to meet the requirements of an event permit. That led to nights full of riots, especially in Duindorp. For decades, tolerated bonfires in the Hofstad were a way of avoiding disturbances with old and new.
Also read a reconstruction of decades of pyres
This year the permits were completed, and the builders had already found various sponsors. The piles were not allowed to grow larger than 10 by 10 meters – after heights of more than 45 meters were reached in 2018. The pyre on Scheveningen then caused a shower of sparks over houses, and extensive damage.
One of the conclusions of the investigation into that out of control New Year’s Eve was that the bonfires had all the hallmarks of an event, without a permit being issued. The pyres were tolerated for years and partly facilitated by the municipality, but it was unclear who was responsible. After the turn of the year from 2018 to 2019, no more bonfires were held, first due to a ban, later due to the corona measures.