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Jailbreak Tattoo Festival, Netherlands


A tattoo, rock and art  festival held in a disused prison may not be everyone’s idea of a birthday treat but for me, Jailbreak was a combination of  so many of my favourite things.

After an awesome day in Amsterdam – mainly eating and drinking beer – we made our way to Leeuwarden, the capital of the Dutch province Friesland. We parked up at Camping Taniaburg, a little campsite surrounded  by fields, a lake and fluffy cows.

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The tranquility was a nice balance to the raucous festival we had travelled for. A quick celebratory cava and we made our way through the city, which was a strange mix of rural, urban, old and new. In our short stroll we came across walls scrawled with graffiti, a tractor pageant, traditional cobbled alleys and modern high street shops, all which eventually lead us to Blokhuispoort – a prison until 2007 that was transformed into a cultural hub for the city.

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Walking across what was once a drawbridge and through a giant stone archway we entered the first part of the fortress where there were people getting a trendy chop at a pop up barbers shop, a cool coffee stall, a Sailor Jerry shop, vintage vehicles and to the right, rooms filled with art.

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Having only taken a few steps I knew that this festival was everything I had hoped for. A quick peruse around the varied art and photography (which included live painting, screen printing and sketching) I made my first purchase of the day: a Jailbreak print from Cowboy Killers as a nice piece of memorabilia from what had already been an amazing birthday.

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We continued on to the main courtyard, browsed some stalls, caught some live music and grabbed a beer.

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Eventually we made it to the large cell block which, for me, held the main attraction of the day: the tattoo artists. Each had their own cell with artwork on the walls. Every room entered was like a mini art exhibition, but instead of gentle polite chatter or quiet classical music there was a background of needles buzzing, loud conversation and laughter.

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There was so much talent contained within the cells that I had to go and have a think whether I was caught up in the amazing atmosphere or really wanted another tattoo. Over a dreamy fresh roll from Sandwish I came to the conclusion that, of course, I wanted another one!!

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My chosen artist was Robert Aalbers from Clean Solid Tattoo, but unfortunately I was too late to get work by him that day. All was not lost as it gave us more time to have some drinks and take in the action outside, including more live music, fire dancers and bikers.

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Though the organisers had a strict no colours policy it could not have been more obvious those who were part of an MC. I don’t mean that in a negative way, it was fascinating to watch the interactions between such tight nit groups.

Although I left without any new ink, I had an amazing day at a festival filled with art, music and high spirits.

1 comment

  1. […] of my favourites include: a tiny family run farm in Leeuwarden, riverside parking with stunning city views in Antwerp, and a forest just outside of […]

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