Heineken takes three lucky Thais on a trip to Amsterdam
AMSTERDAM, known as the most bicycle-friendly city in the world, is not just heaven for cyclists but also for those who love to party. That’s because the Dutch capital plays host to an never-ending round of electronic dance music festivals stretching from the beginning of summer to the end of autumn, among them Mysteryland, the world’s oldest EDM festival.
I was in Amsterdam recently as a member of Dutch beer brand Heineken’s first global trip under the “Live Access” campaign that’s designed to take consumers on a journey beyond music.
“I never thought about visiting Europe because I’ve always thought that America and Japan were more interesting. But after just a short while in Amsterdam, I realised I had been missing out. There’s something unique about this town,” confided Anont Vidhayasirinun, marketing manager of Ananda Development and one of the three lucky consumers picked at random in the “Heineken Live Access” campaign.
Even the weather seemed to be welcoming us to the Netherlands as we stepped out from Schiphol Airport into a pleasantly warm and sunny day. The temperature dropped a little in the evening – in short, the perfect weather for getting on a bike. Sadly though, a tight timetable prevented me from taking to two wheels.
Amsterdam really is the ultimate bicycle-friendly city. Bikes are everywhere – moving smoothly along the bike lanes that run parallel with the roads and which even boast bicycle-friendly traffic lights and stretching as far as the eye can see in the parking areas reserved especially for two wheels. Bike rental shops are everywhere, most of them offering a wide choice of bike tours.
It’s also a city of canals, and a boat trip is probably the best way to take in the city. Some tourists even choose to stay on the water, booking their breaks at houseboat bed & breakfast joints. We take a two-hour cruise around the city, once dubbed the “Venice of the North” for obvious reasons, and admire the elegant architecture and – to my surprise– thousands of Heineken signs.
The brewery was established in Amsterdam in 1864 and today Heineken is a huge multinational company, one of the three largest beer producers in the world. Its rich and successful history is presented in the old defunct brewery in Amsterdam, with several amusement park attractions added to the exhibit, which has been renamed the Amsterdam Heineken Experience.
The Heineken Experience is one of Amsterdam’s most authentic and famous attractions. The factory continued to manufacture all of the brand’s beer here until 1988, when the main production line was moved to a larger facility outside the city due to overwhelming demand for the product. Today the old brewery operates as a museum and tourist attraction and has been visited by millions of people from all over the world since it opened its doors in 2001.
The Heineken Brewery Tour took us through the company’s history in a fun and interactive way. As we walked through the impressive old building, we saw the gigantic copper tanks that were used to brew the original Heineken beer, the company’s old advertisements and were able to pull a draft of our own beer in the Heineken Museum bar, where we enjoyed two complimentary drinks.
But the music was calling and before long we were off to the two-day EDM festival, Mysteryland. Gazing out of the coach window as we made our way to Floriade in Haarlemmermeer municipality, 20 kilometres from Amsterdam, I looked with envy at the cyclists pedalling along the parallel |bike lane and resolved there |and then to return one day |for a cycling holiday.
Organised by Netherlands-based promoter ID&T, the 2017 edition of Mysteryland featured more than 200 acts playing hardstyle, hip-hop, techno, drum and bass, dubstep, disco, house, techno, electro and more on many stages. Particularly impressive in terms of production were the acts on Main Stage and Q-Dance who closed out their shows with lasers and fireworks, though it must be said that The Big Top, Paradise, Cocoon, Elrow, RAM Records, and Mad Decent stages didn’t pale too much in comparison. And in addition to the never-ending music, there were also exhibitions and poetry readings.
I wandered through the venue, stopping off at various stages – all of them crowded with festival-goers – to take in Desparados’ mix of mainstream hits, Puna’s hip-hop set, the live sets at the Big Top Live, the hardcore at Thunderdome as well as underground house and techno at Elrow and Dave Clarke.
The Main Stage featured global stars of the EDM world such as Deadmau5, one of the world’s most respected electronic music producers, the UK’s Craig David, KSHMR, Armin van Buuren, and the powerhouse duo Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso.
“I like EDM and like all EDM fans knew of Mysteryland, which is every bit as famous as Tomorrowland in Belgium. I never thought I would have a chance to come here though but thanks to Heineken, that dream has come true,” Anont said.
“Once I knew I’d been picked for the trip, I started checking out the line-up of DJs as well as stages and show times. I planned to see Craig David’s show as well as those of Showtek and KSHMR, who are on the top ten list of global EDM DJs. I’m very impressed by both the playlists and the festival’s security system. I was sorry to hear that Alesso was forced to cancel because he was ill but the organisers more than made up for it by bringing in DJ W&W as a replacement.
“And I like the fact that the festival also has several booths offering massage and meditation. The event’s eco-friendly too, distributing water bags that can be filled at ‘Tap Water’ booths around the venue.”
Anont was correct in his eco-friendly assessment of the festival, with most of stages covered with wood to keep them dust free. The food was good too with the Dutch version of Thai, Vietnamese and Indian food offered alongside sandwiches and hotdogs.
But festival goers no matter how environmentally conscious at home seem to forget their green leanings after a few beers and I was sad to see plastic water bottles and glasses, beer cans, and disposable food boxes scattered around the venue, despite a plethora of garbage bins and the hard work of the Greenteam volunteers.
When, I wonder, will we learn to put our garbage where it belongs?