Public Relations Manager and Culture Editor
At the annual Redhead Days festival this August, red is not just a hair color, it’s an identity. Every year, the city of Tilburg, Netherlands, hosts a gathering called The Redhead Days. This occurs during the last weekend of August and thousands of gingers gathered to celebrate and create a united community.
The festival features a variety of activities and entertainment, such as campfires, photo booths, crafts, food trucks, and dancing. Another activity is called 50 shades of red, where a variety of hair colors are displayed on a wall, allowing participants to select their shade. There was also an information session on skin cancer, as redheads are more likely to develop the disease.
The Redhead Days festival is said to be the largest redhead festival in the world, with people from over 80 countries in attendance. This year, about 6,000 people participated. The theme was hibiscus rose.
The Redhead Days festival began in 2005 when painter Bart Rouwenhorst put out an ad for fifteen models with red hair. 150 people registered and Rouwenhorst “had trouble saying no,” They all gathered for a group photo which inspired Rouwenhorst to formally organize the event. The festival currently holds the Guiness World Record for most redheads in any photo, featuring 1,672 people with red hair.
With just 1-2% of the global population being redheaded, this festival is a way for redheads to connect with each other and embrace their unique hair color. Many participants at the festival shared stories of bullying they had experienced for being a redhead, getting called names like freckle face, leprechaun, and carrot top. The festival allows them to convert their natural hair color into something worth embracing.
Liam Hunter, a proud Scottish ginger, told Global News, “I don’t feel alone anymore..I feel like I’m a part of something, something I feel like I was missing my whole life.” Liam was bullied in Scotland for having ginger hair, but this festival has given him a sense of belonging and purpose. When asked why she attended the festival, redhead Jessie Christensen explained, “A big motivation was to see more people like us [her and her friend] and have a sense of community as a redhead because it can feel isolating when you don’t see a lot of people like you.”
The Redhead Days festival has created a safe space for people to disregard fear of judgment and connect with others who share the same rarity as them. With nearly 6,000 attendees, the Redhead Days festival is open to people of all hair colors, not strictly redheads. The annual Redhead Days festival will be up and running next August, ready for many exciting activities to come!
(Sources: Washington Post, National Geographic)