Irish dancing, DIY and meeting monsters: 13 great things to do in March

Photo: Keukenhof
Photo: Keukenhof

The freezing temperatures may not make it feel like spring is on its way, but the Netherlands is gearing up for the start of the tulip season as the Keukenhof opens later this month. Here’s a selection of great things to do in March.

Look at the beautiful people
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is celebrating the return of Rembrandt’s wedding portrait of Marten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit after its restauration by tapping into the celebrity culture of centuries gone by. On show will be a collection of 35 full length portraits of such distinguished figures as femme fatale Luisa Casati and the rather dreamy playboy and gynaecologist (!) Dr Pozzi. High Society is on from March 8 to June 3. Website

Look at the hoi polloi
More Rembrandt at the Rembrandthuis, where a collection of etchings show the artist’s powers of observation. Ordinary folk, children at play, beggars and tinkers are all depicted with the same attention to detail he lavished on the great and the good. From March 3. Website

Say Sláinte
It’s Lá Fhéile Pádraig on March 17th, time for some grand Irish music, dancing and drinking for all to enjoy. In Amsterdam the St Patrick’s Festival presents a host of activities ranging from an evening with writer John Banville to Irish dancing workshops and late night Irish traditional music and céilí dancing. March 16-17. Go to the website for tickets and venues. The Hague stages its own festival on the Grote Markt on the 17th, with lots of live bands and fleet-footed dancing as well. Website

Or say Sayonara
If you’re not into Irish fiddles you could spend your weekend at the International Butoh Festival watching an international group of artists performing Japanese dance theatre.  March 16-17. Website

Photo: Museum of the 20th century

Do a spot of DIY with Buurman and Buurman
The Museum of the 20th century in Hoorn is celebrating 40 years of DIY disasters with Buurman & Buurman, or Pat and Mat as the characters are called in their native Czech Republic. Children (and grown-ups) will enjoy the life size dolls and other exhibits and can even do a bit of DIY of their own. A je to!  is Czech for ‘there we are!’ which was maintained in the Dutch translation. It is also the title of the exhibition which is on until Jan 6 2019. Website

Get romantic at the Keukenhof
The Keukenhof opens its doors on March 22 (until May 13) and this year’s theme is Romanticism, both the period ( the park was designed in 1857) and the mushy stuff.  ‘Come to the tulip garden with your beloved and go down on one knee’ the Keukenhof gushes. If you would rather not spoil your clothes, there are flower shows and gardens to admire. Mind you don’t walk through the kissing gateway of Cupid’s garden or you will be for it after all. Website

Fit for a queen? Photo: Loraine Bodewes

Come to the fair
The prestigious European Fine Arts Fair (TEFAF) will be opening its doors in Maastricht again to showcase art of all kinds and from every corner of the globe. It prides itself on its vetting so you won’t buy a dud. But if you are ‘just looking’ you’re welcome too. From March 10 to March 18. Website

Meet a monster
The Teylers museum in Haarlem casts a scientific eye on man’s age-old fascination with monstrous animals. Apparently Marco Polo spotted a rhino and thought: that is  one ugly unicorn. What did people think they saw and what was it they really saw? The exhibition Monster Animals, fake or real? explains all. Until June 10. Website

Listen to the music at the film museum
The EYE film museum in Amsterdam is pairing up films and music in its new programme Eyeshadow. Indie classics from 1990 onward are followed by live performances which some way reflect the films. The monthly series kicks off with the film Drive (2011) with singer BEA1991 doing the reflecting. March 25. Website

Share a joke with Frans Hals
‘The Frans Halsmuseum in Haarlem is hahahahahahahaha!’ its website guffaws. The joke is on characters depicted in the paintings of the Dutch Golden Age, such as lazy maids, drunks and quacks. While a modern audience is unlikely to fall about laughing or may not see the joke, the exhibition does give an insight in what made the people of the 17th century snigger. The Art ofLaughter, Humour in the Golden Age is on until March 18. Website

Don’t miss
Fashion designer Paul Poiret, father of the art deco movement, is the subject of an exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. Poiret delivered women from the corset and put them in stunning and comfortable kimonos. He also worked with the artists of the time. You have until March 4 to admire clothes, paintings, jewellery and other superior knicknacks from the roaring Twenties in Poiret, Le Magnifique. Website

If you hurry you can just catch Jump into the Future – Art from the 90’s and 2000’s at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam with works from the collection of German collector Thomas Borgmann. Cosima von Bonin, Matt Mullican, Lucy McKenzie, Jutta Koether, Paulina Olowska, Wolfgang Tillmans, Christopher Williams, Cerith Wyn Evans en Heimo Zobernig are some of the artists who, according to curator Martijn van Nieuwenhuizen, mark the shift towards art that eluded fixed categories. Until March 4. Website

Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring is being probed and prodded by scientists in the next two weeks to see what she’s made of. Mauritshuis paintings conservator and head researcher Abbie Vandivere will explain what is taking place inside the workshop using videos and daily updates. The Girl in the Spotlight is on until March 12 at the Mauritshuis in The Hague. Website

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