From flowers to ballet and Islamic art: 12 great things to do in September

Photo: Foto van Hassel BV via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Foto van Hassel BV via Wikimedia Commons

The new cultural season starts in the Netherlands in September, and here is a round-up of some of the great things to see and do.

Smell the flowers
Zundert, in the province of Noord-Brabant is getting ready to stage ‘the biggest flower parade in the world’. The 20 small communities which make up the town give their all to produce the best float in a fiercely fought competition. The result is a parade of some pretty weird and wonderful – and enormous-  flowery creations which are well worth seeing. September 2 and 3. Website

Meet Turkish writers
The Balie in Amsterdam is organising an English-language evening with Turkish writers whose work does not meet with the approval of the powers that be in their country and who are forced to live and write abroad. Writers Çiler İlhan and Burhan Sönmez explain how living in exile has influenced their writing and how they feel about the present climate in Turkey. Translator Hanneke van der Heijden shares what it is like to translate politically sensitive work and how even translators may end up in court. September 6. Website

Rave about the ravens
For years Japanese photographer Masahisa Fukase’s only subject was his (second) wife. When she left him, a devastated Fukase turned his attention to ravens of which he made a series of hauntingly beautiful photographs.

Kanazawa 1977, from the series Ravens © Masahisa Fukase Archives

Fukase’s bouts with depression and alcoholism ended in a fall which left him in a coma for 20 years during which his work was largely ignored. Ravens and other series will be on show at Foam in Amsterdam, from September 7. Website

Be blissful
The Gemeentemuseum in The Hague has polished up 300 ornamental objects from its own collection exemplifying the magnificence of Islamic art. Splendour and Bliss – Art from the world of Islam – shows examples of calligraphy, lifelike depictions of animals and other intricate ornamental feats from the period between 900 and 1900.  From September 8. Website

Celebrate monumental Europe
2018 is European cultural heritage year which is why the theme of this year’s Open Monumentendag is ‘In Europe’. International architectural styles, influences popping backwards and forwards over borders, you get the drift. And of course over 4,000 monuments will be opening their doors, from industrial monuments like the old Verkade chocolate factory in Zaandam to the luscious Huis Bartolotti in Amsterdam.

De Wedderborg, a fortified house. Photo:

There’s a special treat for lovers of stage parafernalia: a recently discovered painted backdrop from the 1930s, on show in the Chassé theatre in Breda. September 8 and 9. Website

Get your tickets if you haven’t already
The New Classics is the opening programme of the new ballet season of the Dutch Nation Ballet and a tribute to Jerome Robbins & Leonard Bernstein whose centenery it is this year. A triple bill features the European premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Serenade after Plato’s Symposium, set to Bernstein’s violin concerto of the same name. It also includes the Dutch premiere of Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering. It is rounded off with a revival of Chroma, choreographed by Wayne McGregor. From Tuesday September 11 to Tuesday September 25 at Nationale Opera en Ballet in Amsterdam.  Website

Say hello to Freek and Hella
Comedian Freek de Jonge and his designer wife Hella are taking up temporary residence in the Groninger museum this month amid a collection of personal items, such as the costumes worn by De Jonge during his shows, previously unseen film footage and other memorabilia linked to their shared professional careers. In other words: Het Volle Leven (Life lived to the full). From September 15 Website

Do some royalty watching
It’s Prinsjesdag on the third Tuesday in September and that means politicians are reluctantly coming back from their hols to start the business of governing the country again.

Photo: Mauvries via

The King will once again travel by coach to the Binnenhof parliamentary complex before telling the nation how it is doing, accompanied by Máxima of course. You too, can be there and a paltry €17.50 will give you a perfect view of the royals.  September 18. Website

Venez voir mes etchings
Rembrandt in Paris is the somewhat misleading title of a new exhibition in the Rembrandt Huis in Amsterdam. It’s not about the Netherland’s most famous painter strolling around the Quartier Latin munching on a baguette but about a group of 19th century French painters who admired the freedom of his style, particularly in his etchings, which they emulated in their own work. Rembrandt in Parijs. Manet, Méryon, Degas and the rediscovery of the art of etching (1830-1890) opens on September 21. Website

Move with nature
September is here and the leaves will be turning soon. Time to visit the Bomenmuseum in Doorn and the Waterliniemuseum Fort at Vechten where artists have created work inspired by movement in nature.

There is a 15k cycle route between the two open air exhibitions and you are allowed to picnic among the trees. On the Move is on until October 28. Website

Get fruity
You may, after the endless school holidays, be heartily sick of  taking junior on yet another outing but here’s one where you can actually put him to work. Estate the Olmenhorst in Lisserbroek is celebrating its 25th do-it-yourself fruit picking festival which will have you eating apple crumble and pear tart until well into November. Lots of other activities are happening for parents as well such as a bric a brac market and a wine festival with mussels. From September 15. Website

See a Dutch blockbuster, with subtitles

The Dutch Film Festival kicks of on September 27 in Utrecht and this year it has a special treat in store for English speakers. The organisers have put together a special programme ofsubtitled Dutch blockbusters, films made in Englsih by Dutch directors and a series of talks and events in English. The full lneup will be available on September 3, which is also when ticket sales start. Website

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