Tong Tong Fair

Tong Tong Fair
The Tong Tong Fair is the world's largest festival dedicated to Eurasian (European-Asian) culture. It is also one of the longest-running festivals in the Netherlands. Held in the Dutch city of The Hague, the fair attracts over 100,000 attendees every year.

The Tong Tong Fair was established in 1959. Its original name was Pasar Malam Besar which literally means “great night market” in the Indonesian and Malay language. The festival was founded by a group of immigrants from the Dutch West Indies in defiance of government pressure to assimilate into Dutch society.

From the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s, between 250,000 to 300,000 Indonesians immigrated to the Netherlands following Indonesia's declaration of independence. Most of them were the children of mixed marriages referred to as Indos (Indo-Europeans). They were born and raised in the Dutch West Indies and left Indonesia for a country that had a completely different culture. Recognizing the need to adapt to life in a new country and foreign culture, they didn't want to abandon their own culture and thus resisted assimilation.

Since the establishment of the Tong Tong Fair, the relationship between the government and the Indo community has gradually improved. The festival that started as an act of defiance has transformed into a spectacular celebration of Eurasian culture. In 2003, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands herself officially opened the 45th edition of the festival (still known as Pasar Malam Besar back then). The festival was renamed the Tong Tong Fair in 2009 to emphasize its link with the Tong Tong Foundation that supports Eurasian culture.

The Tong Tong Fair is an eclectic mix of a cultural festival, fair and food festival. It features music and dance, Asian and Eurasian cuisine, art and merchandise. Hundreds of performances, workshops, masterclasses, lectures, demonstrations, and other exciting events for visitors of all ages and backgrounds are spread over 12 days of the festival. They are held in several venues at the fairgrounds including the Tong Tong Podium and the Tong Tong Theater.

At the festival, attendees have a great opportunity to meet artists, authors, lecturers and master chefs from different countries including the Netherlands, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam and the United States. They can attend converts of Indo music, sample delicious Indo dishes, and buy eye catching, authentic souvenirs. One of the festival's main culinary attractions is rijsttafel (rice table), an elaborate meal consisting of many Indonesian side dishes accompanied by several kinds of rice.

Tong Tong Fair

Photo: Arenda Oomen




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