10 Great Things To Do In February

From the latest film from the Coen brothers and a major celebration of Karel Appel to all the latest designs and gadgets for your home, here’s our pick of the best things to do in February.

Celebrate a modern master

karel appel
Karel Appel (1921-2006) is perhaps the most renowned Dutch artist of the latter half of the twentieth century and this major retrospective marks the tenth anniversary of his death. The 67 paintings, 12 sculptures and more than 60 drawings in the exhibition demonstrate that Appel was more than just a member of the Cobra movement. The show also revisits his early interest in Outsider Art, his wide-ranging stylistic experiments, and his highly individual – sometimes almost abstract – interpretation of traditional genres like the nude, the portrait and the urban or rural landscape.

The exhibition is part of a wider international reappraisal of Karel Appel’s work during this anniversary year which also includes exhibitions in Paris, London and Washington.

Gemeentemuseum, The Hague until May 16. www.gemeentemuseum.nl

Improve your home and garden
The Huishoudbeurs is the Dutch version of the Ideal Home Exhibition in London. Here you will find everything you could possibly want to improve your home and garden. There are the latest designs and gadgets for every space, from the kitchen to the bathroom and the basement to the attic, including how to make an outdoor room of your garden. In addition, there are tips on fashion and beauty and ideas on how to fill your free time.

RAI, Amsterdam, February 20 to 28. www.huishoudbeurs.nl

Go mad in Oeteldonk
Carnival, the feast that preceeds the famine that is the fast at Lent, is a big deal in the south of the Netherlands where processions and street parties are the order of the day, towns are given special carnival names – Oeteldonk is Den Bosch – and ridiculous costumes are the order of the day. Check out our feature on February 1 for ten things you need to know about carnival.

The northern provinces of the country have for years been immune to the charms of carnival but this year the usual half-hearted attempt to enthuse the northerners is given a boost by a number of Brabanders who live in Amsterdam. The capital now has its own carnival name, Gròòtgragtegat. All that’s now missing are the processions.

Nationwide but mainly in the south, February 7 to 9.

Welcome the latest Coen brothers film
hail caesar
Yes, that is George Clooney, once again forgetting any thoughts of dignity to appear in a film by the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan. Hail, Caesar! is the Coens’ latest offering and it will open the 66th Berlin International Film Festival on February 11. The film follows one day in the life of a studio fixer (Josh Brolin), who is presented with a host of problems to fix, including the kidnap of one of the studio’s stars (Clooney). Also in the cast of this tale set in the Golden Age of Hollywood are Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum.

Cinemas nationwide, February 18 onwards.

Cheer on top tennis players
Top international players compete in the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament. Among those already scheduled to play are Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios and Alexander Zverev, and Dutch players Robin Haase and Thiemo de Bakker.

The tournament also offers special entertainment on Ladies’ Day, Kids’ Day and Family Day.

Ahoy, Rotterdam, February 8 to 14. www.abnamrowtt.nl

Listen to gorgeous music
The Netherlands Bach Society performs several versions of the Sabat Mater, the hymn to Mary, mother of Jesus, including that by Domenico Scarlatti for ten voices and the famous Miserere by Allegri. The conductor is Jos van Veldhoven.

Concertzaal, Tilburg, February 18; Nieuwe Kerk, The Hague, February 19; Grote Kerk, Naarden, February 21 (matinee). www.bachvereniging.nl

Treat yourself to an eclair
A stroll along the IJ passage at Amsterdam Centraal Station reveals that eclairs are not necessarily just choux pastry filled with cream and topped off with chocolate. The eclairs at the recently opened Le Clair come in tastes ranging from the sweet – such as mango and passion fruit and salted caramel and coffee – to the savoury – including smoked salmon and hot dog.

Le Clair, Amsterdam CS, IJ passage

Enjoy ultra modern dance

Modern dance company Conny Janssen Danst performs two works in one programme. The first is I’m Here (2005) in which ten urban characters are in search of love, warmth and recognition. The photographs and film images which create the background are by Carel van Hees. The second piece is Álbum Familiar (2001), with three women and four men meeting at a portrait gallery. It is danced to new music performed live by Beppe Costa.

Posthuistheater, Heerenveen, February 3; De Flint, Amersfoort, February 5; Chassé Theater, Breda, February 13; Schouwburg, Leiden, February 17; Stadsschouwburg, Groningen, February 18; Schouwburg, Amstelveen, February 19; Schouwburg, Rotterdam, February 26 and 27. www.connyjanssendanst.nl

Watch Sherlock take on Hamlet
Another chance to see Benedict Cumberbatch – BBC tv’s Sherlock Holmes – take on the title role in Shakespeare’s great tragedy. It was directed by Lyndsey Turner (Posh, Chimerica) for a 12-week run at the Barbican in London last October and streamed into cinemas around the world. This monumental production was the fastest-selling show in London theatre history and gained fine reviews for Cumberbatch’s swaggering yet touching performance.

Pathé Tuschinski cinema, Amsterdam, February 23. www.pathe.nl

Hear how wars could be avoided
Joris Voorhoeve,
professor of International Organisations at Leiden University and lecturer in Peace, Justice and Security at the Hague University of Applied Sciences, begins a series of lectures in February in which he searches for the best possible answers and practical policies which should help to avoid war or end ongoing wars to prevent further bloodshed. Voorhoeve was Dutch defence minister during the Srebrenica affair of 1995.

Lecture titles include: Recent Wars, Civil Wars and Peace Operations (February 25); The Various Causes of Armed Conflicts; their Victims and Damage (March 10); The Possibilities to Intervene and the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (March 24); The Foreseeable Conflict Trends in the 21st Century (April 7); and Building Structures for Peaceful Settlement of Conflicts (April 21). 

Maastricht University, Student Services Centre. www.sg.unimaas.nl