From Kings Day to lions, lemurs and lino: 12 great things to do in April

There is a lot going on in April, from the traditional festivities of Kings Day to the start of the spring school break, plus a lot of gold, glitter, polka dots and crazy coloured glass at museums around the country.

See Venice in Carré
A musical theatre version of Death in Venice, directed by Ivo van Hove and performed by Theater Amsterdam and the Concertgebouworkest, is coming to Carré in Amsterdam and if you’re quick (and flush) you may just be able to get a ticket.

The story by Thomas Mann was reworked by Ramsey Nasr to feature a writer in crisis who, in the privacy of his study, reinvents himself as Von Aschenbach, the kind of man he would like to be. American composer Nico Muhly wrote a new score for the production.. Surtitled. April 4 to April 13. Website

Gaze at the glitter that is all gold
The treasure of Utrecht’s Domkerk was all but destroyed during the Reformation but now the Museum Catharijneconvent has been given the chance to shine with the unparalleled riches of the Münster Domkirche which undergoing refurbishment and is farming out its collection.

Photo: Catharijne Convent

Silver, gold, precious stones, relics, including the solid gold head of St Paul from 1040 containing a piece of the man’s skull all illustrate the amazing wealth of the church. Until June 10. Website

Don’t be a muppet, come see the Pop Arts
Theater Bellevue, de Krakeling, de Brakke Grond and Feikes Huis are the venues for the 10th International Pop Arts Festival in Amsterdam. Pop is Dutch for ‘puppet’, so nothing to do with pop music although that, along with dance, circus acts, mime and film may be part of the puppet and object acts on offer. April 16 to April 21. Website

Pay a visit to the Passion
It’s Easter, it’s time for the Passion. Edwin Jonker and Edsilia Rombley are Jesus and Mary in the popular annual musical extravaganza around the death of Christ. The passion is in Dordrecht this year and if you want to be there (it’s free) you will have to be early: there will be no more room at the inn if you’re not. If you can’t make the live show the Passion will be broadcast live at 20:30 on NPO 1 and NPO Radio 2. Thursday April 18. Website


Knock yourself out on Kings Day
Get rummaging and find the old tat that you thought was such a bargain last year and put it back into the eternally churning recycling circle that is Koningsdag. If you want to see the royals indulge in a spot of toilet bowl throwing then to Amersfoort you must go. As usual there is plenty to do on Koningsdag, so here is a handy guide.  April 27.

Meet a mime
Bill Bowers is not your average silent mime climbing out of box but a full-on, talking mime telling important and funny stories based on his travels around the globe, including an encounter with Happy Hooker Xaviera Hollander and – mime that – civil disobedience in Poland, to name but a few.

Photo: Agnieszka Wieloposka

All over the Map is presented by the English Theatre in The Hague. April 5 and 6. Website

Discover how the other half died
In the Golden Age The Hague was already at the heart of political power in the Netherlands and this attracted the seriously rich who built their sumptuous homes close by where they could keep an eye on it.

The Haags Historisch Museum has a look at the (human) cost of keeping all these big spenders in luxury goods and clean linen, often the result of exploitation both here and in the colonies. The glitter, glory and misery of  the Golden Age in The Hague opens on April 28. Website

Explore a hybrid
The Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam has been dusting of its collection of sculptures and even found some bits it had never shown before. Hybrid Sculpture features 19 artists and around 24 works ranging from the 1990s to the present day. The title for the exhibition was chosen to emphasise the multitude of genres and styles that characterise modern sculpture, and which sees classic methods combine with the latest technology. Until January 12. Website

Enter the dotty world of Yayoi Kusama
At the Voorlinden Museum in leafy Wassenaar a feast of colour awaits in the shape of works by 90-year old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Called the ‘princess of the polka dots’ Kusama’s dots serve to keep the psychoses she has suffered from most of her life at bay and have resulted in works such as the delightful stippled pumpkins, an example of which is on show. Until September 1. Website

Photo: Museum Voorlinden

Smell the lino
What did (some) of the Dutch interiors look like in the years between 1945 and 1965, the years of the so-called Wederopbouw or reconstruction following World War II. The quirky Van Eesterenmuseum in Amsterdam shows how increasing prosperity and new manufacturing techniques influenced furniture design.

On show are a press room Gerrit Rietveld designed for the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in 1958, an Amsterdam doctor’s surgery from 1960 and a number of restored furniture ensembles by well-known Dutch designers. The exhibition also explores their influence on modern design. Rijke eenvoud (opulent simplicity) is on until May 5. Website

Look at the lions and lemurs.
The May school break starts on April 27 and after you have made your children earn their keep by playing the violin on Kings Day for five hours, you may want to take them out for a treat.

You could, for instance, take them to Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo which has three very cute lion cubs and an  unexpected arrival in a group of female lemurs in the shape of an even cuter baby lemur. The sex of the animal, fruit of a close encounter before the mother came to the Rotterdam zoo, is unknown but let’s hope for its sake that it isn’t a male. Any time. Website

Beat the blues in Groningen
The Groninger Museum is hosting American artist Dale Chihuly whose colourful glass baubles, beads, balls and a host of other sparkly objects not beginning with b light up the museum in a dazzling display. Just the thing to combat a bout of spring fatigue. Until May 5. Website

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