Leeuwarden: more than just the Capital of Culture


As European Capital of Culture 2018, Leeuwarden has built up quite the reputation. As the title awarded to it would suggest, it is a great city that filled with many cultural activities. And no matter if it is 2018 or beyond, Leeuwarden is most definitely worth a visit.

As Leeuwarden comes to the end of its time as European Capital of Culture, it is readying itself for the ‘Re-Opening’ ceremony. “We deliberately decided not to do a closing ceremony,” says Jort Klarenbeek, who is in charge of international marketing. With simple reason: there is still so much to do and enjoy in this city in the north of the Netherlands. “We’re organising different kinds of festivals that together create the Re-Opening, a three-week autumn festival.”

From 5 to 23 November, the autumn festival will liven up the streets of Leeuwarden yet again. It is a combination of different cultural events, stretched out over three weeks. One of those events is the Northern Film Festival, where young talent will showcase their work and where you can watch different films that have had an impact on cultural themes throughout the region. “Sailing on the Grass is a good example,” Klarenbeek says, and expands: “International filmmakers came to Friesland to make a documentary about the area. There’s an artist from Switzerland filming the Wadden Sea as a counterpart to the Alps for instance.”

Another example is Explore the North, a festival that uses locations throughout the city – that are not regularly accessible to the public, like a church or synagogue – as a podium for poetry, music and theatre. Various artists from northern Europe exhibit their arts here. “Like the Danish group Inbetween Music who perform a show called AquaSonic, which is an opera played in five large basins of water.”

On to 2019, where festivals that emerged in the context of the Capital of Culture will continue to be held. “With the title European Capital of Culture we’ve started a movement of culture in the city that we’ll definitely keep following.”


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