From visiting borgs to singing sea shanties: 11 great things to do in September

It’s almost September, so here is our list of some of the best things to see and do next month – from visiting Groningen’s historic country houses to watching a Greek tragedy and checking out the wonders at the Netherlands’ botanical gardens.

Sample different cultures
The annual Embassy Festival in The Hague is all about great music and delicious food. Visit the cultures of exotic countries against the backdrop of the Lange Voorhout which is saying a temporary goodbye to its august dignity in favour of colour and sound on September 1 and 2. Website

Get stitched up
24 international textile artists show their work and techniques at the Textiel Biënnale for the fifth time at Museum Rijswijk.’Hard-hitting messages about repression, terrorism, old age and gender packaged in soft textiles’, is how the museum puts it. Until September 24  website

Enjoy a little bare cheek
Theatre company Illyria’s acclaimed version of The Emperor’s New Clothes comes to Raadhuis de Paauw in Wassenaar on September 2 & 3 (‘strictly for people between 5 and 99’) and it will be performing Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors – featuring a Mexican band – on September 2 at Landgoed Schovenhorst in Putten.  Both plays are performed in the open air. Go to STET for tickets and info.

Sing sea shanties in Rotterdam
Rotterdam’s annual celebration of its port is livened up with rollicking sea shanties courtesy of the International Shanty Festival which is held at the same time. 40 (!) choirs from the Netherlands and abroad will sing of lost love, strange ports and the seaman’s longing for the sea. It’s free. September 1-3 Leuvenhaven Rotterdam Website

Marvel at Medea, with surtitles

Photo: Jan Versweyveld/TGA

Simon Stone turned Euripides’s Greek tragedy about revenge into a contemporary play, inspired by the true story of an American doctor who set fire to her own house after a difficult divorce in 1995, killing two of her children. There’s just one chance to see the play with surtitles this month, on September 7. Website

Visit a listed building
The Open Monumentendagen have a distinctive rustic flavour this year, with a strong emphasis on ‘working’ buildings, such as farms, milk factories, mills, breweries etc. Over 4,000 monuments across the country will be opening their doors on September 9 and 10. Website

Accessorise in the museum of bags and purses
The delicious Tassenmuseum Hendrikje in Amsterdam went digging in some musty old chests in the attic of the Rijksmuseum and emerged with armsfull of superior old tat in the way of parasols, umbrellas, hats, hair accessories, shawl, gloves, fans, stockings and shoes. Contributing some exquisite bags of its own the museum put together ‘Accessories are a girl’s best friend’. From September 16. Website

Don’t forget your glasses

Photo: Craig Boyko via

A great exhibition of tiny carved religious objects from the late Middle Ages is entering its final two weeks at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Marvel at the craftsmanship and steady hands of these Dutch artists. Small Wonders is on until September 17. Website

Bag a borg
Still plenty of time to visit the Groninger Museum and gawp at the riches of bygone ages. Paintings, silverware and all manner of expensive furniture filled the urban mansions and country villas, or borgen, of rich Groningers in the 17th and 18th century. The museum also organises a bus tour of various Groninger borgen. Until November 12. Website

Eat appeltaart at the Hortus

Photo: Rijksdienst voor Cultureel Erfgoed

2017 is the year of the botanical garden and 25 botanical gardens throughout the Netherlands have been showing off their ‘Crown Jewels’. The Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam has one of the longest running exhibitions and has set out a route along its rarest and most interesting trees and plants. The café does an excellent appeltaart as well. Until November 1. Website

Say cheerio to summer
Why not say a final goodbye to summer, such as it was, and go for a walk on the beach at Scheveningen. If it pours down you can always pop into the Muzee Scheveningen which has a fine collection of beach and fishery related objects, among wich a bathing machine for discreet ablutions. Alternatively, you could risk life and limb and climb the lighthouse. Website

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