Speech by Mayor Jan van Zanen at the opening of the Embassy Festival 2021 on 4 September 2021


Your Excellencies, invited guests, visitors,


A very warm welcome! It is great that we can be together again today on the occasion of the Embassy Festival here on one of The Hague’s most lovely avenues. Anyone who has attended this festival before will remember the wonderful atmosphere at this event. A mix of international allure and warm cordiality. Precisely what makes The Hague such a remarkable city.

Mutual understanding that extends far beyond the borders of countries and continents naturally arises in cultural encounters. Particularly when the culinary traditions of a country are put to good use in that process. A formula for success which has long been used at the Embassy Festival. Where we see ambassadors and consuls serving up their national dishes with pride, and visitors raising a glass to the things that unite us.

If we include last year’s alternative celebration, this will be the ninth edition of the Embassy Festival. Only a handful of countries took part in the first festival and a couple of thousand people came to see it. In the meantime some seventy countries have become involved in this event which now draws tens of thousands of visitors.

Further to the pandemic we have again had to adjust our formula this year. We may be together, but we must not wander around with a drink and a bite in hand. We will gather round the tables as is the tradition in many countries at parties and celebrations. Less traditional is ordering with a QR code, but I am sure you will work it out together.

Diplomats, expats, residents, visitors,

We are all aware of the major issues of today. From conflict and struggle, to unprecedented natural disasters. Issues which we can only resolve through international cooperation based on the international rule of law.

The Hague is home to important institutions in the field of peace and justice. It is also where some two hundred organisations, businesses and NGOs in the same field are based. And, last but not least, it is the city where many nationalities live together and it is events like this which demonstrate that we can live together and that we have much in common.

My thanks to the organisers and sponsors whose dedication and creativity have made this great event happen, even under difficult circumstances. I wish everyone a delicious dinner and a great time enjoying the many artists who will be taking part in the Embassy Festival 2021.