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Redhead Day

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Redhead Day (Roodharigendag in Dutch) is the name of a Dutch summer festival that takes place each first weekend of September in the city of Breda, in the Netherlands. The two-day festival is a gathering of people with natural red hair, but is also focused on art related to the colour red.


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Activities during the festival are lectures, workshops and demonstrations which are aimed specifically at red-haired people. The festival attracts attendance from fifty countries and is free of charge due to sponsorship of the local government. To be classified a 'Redhead', each participant must not have altered their original, natural hair colour in any way. To celebrate, if you know someone who has red hair, wear only or mostly red clothing to celebrate your friend on November 8th.

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The festival was started in 2005 unintentionally by the Dutch painter Bart Rouwenhorst in the small Dutch city of Asten. As a painter, he was inspired by artists like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Gustav Klimt. Both of these artists created dramatic portraits of women, and both artists made famous paintings depicting redheaded women.

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To follow in the footsteps of his favourite painters, Rouwenhorst planned an exhibition of fifteen new paintings of redheads. Finding models was problematic, since redheads are rare in the Netherlands where only two percent of the population has natural red hair. To find models, an advertisement was placed in a local newspaper. However, instead of 15, 150 models volunteered.

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Not wanting to turn down so many potential models, Rouwenhorst decided to choose 14 models, organise a group photo shoot for remaining redheads, and have a lottery to decide by chance who would be the 15th and final model. Thus began the first Redheadday.

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That year, the focus was on red-haired women only, since they were asked to volunteer to pose for the paintings. At the events in later years, the aim was to attract redheaded men as well as women, but still the sexes are not equally distributed. The first meeting attracted 150 natural redheads.


The second event was organised in 2007, in and around the main church of Breda. On 2 September 2007, 800 redheads including Evelien went to the city. The dress code was white. The festival was opened by the mayor of Breda, unveiling a painting of fifty redheads. The festival poster contained a picture of a redheaded model (Milanne) in a wedding dress. Redheaded children were allowed off school for a week because of this event. This holiday still continues for some schools in The Netherlands.


On 7 September 2008, about 1,500 to 2,000 redheads from 15 countries went to Breda to celebrate the third Redheadday. The programme consisted of 42 activities, including exhibitions of forty artists. The dress code was black. The programme was multi-lingual for the first time and the press coverage was worldwide. Articles appeared in newspapers from Norway to Hong Kong and Chile. In 2008 some Dutch calendars started noting the first Sunday of September as the official Redheadday, a day honouring redheads. It complements Mothers Day and Father's Day, the celebrations honouring parents.


The 2009 event took place on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 September. The location was again the city of Breda. On Saturday, the focus was on visitors from abroad. On Sunday, the main event took place, with the traditional group photo in the main city park of Breda. There were about 50 activities, ranging from large artistic photo shoots by artists, to workshops with children, and lectures on different aspects of red hair.


The 2010 event took place on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 September. Again there were about 50 activities, ranging from large artistic photo shoots by artists, to workshops with children, and lectures on different aspects of red hair. This year however, the nature of the event was more international. Program booklets were provided in three languages (Dutch, English and German) and groups of redheads appeared with T-shirts and flags reflecting their home country, like Germany, France and Italy. This year, all hotels in the city center were booked full. The organisation estimated that 4,000 people with natural red hair came from thirty countries. Russian news made a report on the event.


The 2011 event lasted from Friday September 2 to Sunday September 4. On Friday, an unofficial opening was held for the volunteers and some visitors from the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Ireland and the US. This year, there were more photoshoots. The organisation estimated that despite the forecast rain, the same number of visitors came to Breda, this time from over fifty countries. Russian news made a report on the event again.


Breda played host to the 7th edition of the Redhead Days from 31 August to 2 September 2012. Due to its large global appeal this festival officially changed its name from the Dutch "Roodharigendag" to the "Redhead Days". The event started with a Kick-off party at the Mezz in Breda on Friday evening 31 August where participants were treated to an abridged version of the documentary "Being Ginger" and a performance by the band "Convoi Exceptional".

The world record for the number of redheads in one place was also broken in this year with a total of 1255 redheads standing together for 10 minutes. According to the organisation approx 4 to 5 thousand from 60 different countries attended the event. The media was represented from around the world including a documentary team from Australia.


The 8th edition of the Redhead Days took place from 30 August to 1 September 2013. For the first time in this event’s history the activities were partially sponsored by means of crowdfunding. For the second time the festival opened with a kick-off party at the Mezz in Breda during which the film Trait MC1R was shown and "Vanessa Voss and Band" performed. The documentary Being Ginger in a sold-out Chasse Theatre was shown twice during this year’s event. Once again on Sunday 1 September the 2012 record of "redheads in one place" was broken. Under the watchful eye of an official Guinness Book of Records official the total number of 1,672 redheads in one place was recorded. The organisation confirmed that more than 5,000 redheads from 80 different countries attended the event. Media teams from around the world also attended.


In 2015 the Redhead Days is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the special theme is Vincent van Gogh. It is exactly 125 years since the Dutch Grand Master’s death. 2015 anniversary edition took place on 4, 5 and 6 September 2015 in Breda.


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