leeuwarden european capital of culture 2018

Leeuwarden, Cultural Capital of Europe 2018

From January 1st 2018, Leeuwarden will become Cultural Capital of Europe 2018. Leeuwarden is already the the capital of the Dutch province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands. This area is also known as the lake district where many tourist travel by boat during summer time through this green flat landscape full of water.

During extreme wintertime this area is also know for the famous Eleven-city skating tour (Elfstedentocht) an ice skating marathon along the eleven cities in the province. Unfortunately this tour is missed by many for years, the winters are too warm. For the Cultural Capital of Europe they invented a new type of Elfstedentocht. Not over ice, but along sparkling, bubbling water: fountains!

Water will be the connecting element of the upcoming Cultural year. After all Leeuwarden is also the capital of water technology. From the Tall Ships Races in Harlingen. Sailors, shanty choirs and gigantic ships – wherever you look. There will be European and American authors like Yann Martel (Life of Pi) and John Banville (The Sea) at the literature festival.


The total program of Leeuwarden Cultural Capital of Europe will be announced around October 2018 but some of the parts are already published. To the events below I am especially looking forward to.

    • Opening of the European Cultural Capital 2018. At 27th to the 29th of January 2018, Leeuwarden will burst with a full programme of local theatre and music. The cherry on the giant piece of cake: a gigantic installation made by thousands of Frisians and their relations from all over the world. Dutch television will broadcast the event.
    • The street spectacle of Royal de Luxe. These iconic giants are big and beautiful. The puppets will act out a carefully composed story about the history and folklore of our city. Have a look at the video below of the event in London.

  • Escher Exhibition in the Fries Museum. From 28 April 2018 to 28 October 2018, the entire Fries Museum will be devoted to this Frisian graphic artist. This artist well known by its graphic art was born and raised in Leeuwarden, the exhibition follows him through the various phases of his life and also look at current artists who have obviously been influenced by him.
  • The Migrating Ceramics exhibition – The Netherlands is a hub of a worldwide web of ceramics. Take the story of porcelain: originally from Japan and China, but in the 17th century it was beautifully reproduced in the towns of Makkum (Friesland) and Delft.
  • De Stormruiter is a complete experience with horse acts, music and theatre. The main roles have been set aside for 120 Frisian horses that tell a story about the eternal battle against the water. The show is scheduled for September and October 2018 in the WTC Expo in Leeuwarden.

Other things to do in Friesland

  • Visit these Unesco world heritage places
    • Unesco The Wadden Sea
    • Unesco Wouda pumping station
  • Visit the world’s oldest functioning planetarium in the living room of a lovely Frisian canalside house. This accurately moving model of the solar system was built between 1774 and 1781 by Eise Eisinga, a wool carder.

Photo credits: NBTC Holland Marketing

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