The province of Zeeland has many traditions. If you want to see the region in its true colours, you should visit a traditional Zeelandic horse riding event or have your photo taken in traditional dress.
Tilting at the ring
Tilting at the ring is a traditional horse riding event and rural sport in Zeeland. The participants ride bareback, galloping around a circular track. As they go, each participant has to try and thread a very small ring on the end of their lance. The rules of the game are pretty easy to get the hang of. As the competition progresses, the ring gets smaller and smaller until there is only one person left with the largest number of rings on his or her lance. Then the winner is tossed in the air. For many participants, tilting at the ring competitions are a welcome opportunity to decorate their horses. The sport normally takes place in late spring and early summer and is mainly practiced on the island of Walcheren. More on tilting at the ring and a horse riding events calendar.
Sjezenrijden is a lot like tilting at the ring (a traditional horse riding event where they ride around a circular track, catching rings with a lance), but rather than riding bareback, the participants are pulled along in a cart. One person drives the horses whilst the other tries to catch the rings. The fun thing about sjezenrijden is that the participants often dress up in traditional costumes and the horses and carts are always beautifully decorated. Sjezenrijden competitions are organised in a number of places throughout Zeeland.
Traditionally, every island in Zeeland would have had its own way of dressing. Especially the women´s costumes could be easily distinguished from one another because they often wore completely different caps. The largest collection of traditional costume is housed in the museum of Zeeland, the Zeeuws Museum, where they show off the traditional costumes in modern fashion shows. But you will also find traditional costumes in almost all of the local museums. You could even find a local photographer to take a picture of you dressed up in traditional costume. You´d feel just like a true ‘Zeelander’! There are plenty of photographers to choose from. Just ask at the local VVV Tourist Office.
In many of the village squares in Zeeland, one can see exactly where the blacksmith's would have once stood. You'll see a wooden and metal frame called a travalje or trave, which would have been used by the farrier or blacksmith to shoe the horses. You won't see any blacksmiths or farriers today, but there are certainly still other ways to catch a glimpse of ancient, traditional crafts in and around Zeeland.
Firstly, there are a large number of farms and fisheries that are open to the public. There is also the fishing museum, Visserijmuseum Breskens, where you can go on an excursion to see cart horses pulling the nets to catch shrimp and flat fish. This is an old-fashioned Zeelandic fishing technique which is great fun to watch. Thirdly then, there is the Hollandse Hoeve in Goes, where you can get a closer look at ancient crafts as live demonstrations are given by at work in replicas of traditional Zeelandic houses. The Hollandse Hoeve is a great place to take the children, especially in combination with the nearby petting zoo.