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Leeuwarden-Fryslân Capital of Culture 2018 Announces its Full Program

Friday, November 3, 2017   (0 Comments)

On Tuesday, 3 October, the European Capital of Culture 2018 kicked off in Leeuwarden, the capital of the Dutch province of Friesland. With only 100 days to go until the official opening, it’s time for a new thought-renaissance that begins in Friesland and from there will spread to the rest of the world. With culture as the driving force, Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 will show that it takes courage and unconventionality to realise bigger dreams, actions and diversity on an international scale. 

Open community

By bringing together artists, scientists, farmers, headstrong Frisians and visitors with good ideas, the European Capital of Culture intends to shape the new world as an open collaborative community (or ‘iepen mienskip’ as it’s known locally in the region).That’s precisely what the Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 programme is about.Thousands of Frisians are involved in the programme, which emerged from a widespread grassroots movement. New perspectives by international artists have led to an international programme that embraces an open and shared community feeling. 

The programme

The complete programme consists of more than 60 main events and hundreds of Mienskip projects. The projects are divided into four storylines: 

  1. Dare to dream: projects that encourage us to dream big.
  2. Dare to act: projects that highlight the transformation to a more sustainable world.
  3. Dare to be different: projects that promote more cultural diversity.
  4. Royal Frisian: the pearls and local heroes of Friesland.


Some of the highlights of the programme:

The Giants of Royal de Luxe 17-19 August
Big and Beautiful from France: 
After staging productions in Buenos Aires, Montreal, Liverpool and Barcelona, the Royal de Luxe street theatre company is bringing their iconic, gigantic marionettes to Leeuwarden. The parade of giants – some as tall as office buildings and apartment blocks – will march through the streets of Leeuwarden telling the story of the city’s history and folklore. The giants move with the help hundreds of volunteers who animate them as the show progresses. An awe-inspiring spectacle! 

Eleven Fountains – from 18 May in 11 cities in Friesland
Eleven Frisian cities and their residents welcome eleven internationally renowned artists to create a fountain in or around their centre. Each artist designed a fountain that relates to their particular city and history. These are not just fountains; they are contemporary works of art that express the history and culture of the Frisian cities in a unique way.

Escher’s Journey – from 28 April in the Museum of Friesland
Reproductions of his work can be found gracing the walls of teenage bedrooms, hair salons and apartments around the world. Escher’s work is particularly iconic and part of the collective memory of the world’s population. Who isn’t familiar with the birds and the salamanders, the stairs and the cubes? If you’re the most popular artist of the 20th century, you deserve an extensive exhibition.

Mata Hari – from 14 October 2017 to 2 April 2018 in the Museum of Friesland
Mata Hari, the Frisian courtesan who lead a mysterious double life. A century after her death, the Museum of Friesland is hosting the largest exhibition ever to be devoted to the life of Mata Hari. Personal belongings, photographs, scrapbooks, letters and military records will introduce you to Margaretha Zelle, the girl behind the iconic Mata Hari. Travel with her from her hometown of Leeuwarden to the Dutch East Indies, where fate dealt her a different hand.  Experience her glorious rise in Parisian dance theatres and discover the web of intrigue that ensnared her during the First World War, leading to her arrest on charges of espionage.

View the complete 2018 program online.

What is a Cultural Capital of Europe?

“Cultural Capital of Europe is an international cultural project and one of Europe’s most ambitious events. It works like this: each year, two countries from the European Union hold a national competition. One city in these countries is eventually designated as Cultural Capital of Europe for a year. For 2018, Leeuwarden is one of the two European cities and we are proud of that! But it’s not just a Frisian celebration; Leeuwarden-Friesland Cultural Capital of Europe 2018 is a national Dutch event with as epicentre Leeuwarden and the province of Friesland.” Read more