Romans, roofs and miracles: 11 great things to do in August

Photo: Rijksmuseum van Oudheden
Photo: Rijksmuseum van Oudheden

Celebrate the sofa bed, get some outdoor entertainment and do some star-gazing. Here are 11 great things to do in August.

See what the Romans left for us
Some two thousand years ago Roman soldiers guarded the limes, or the northernmost frontier of the Roman empire, along the river Rhine and remnants of their presence are on show at the Leiden archaeological museum. But it’s not just swords and helmets because women, children and servants came too, which explains the variety of bits and bobs found over the years, from toys, baby bottles, and women’s jewellery to soldiers’ mugs with the owners’ names scratched out. This is an exhibition for all the family so there is plenty to do for children too. Until February 28. Website

Watch fresh air entertainment
The Vondelpark open air theatre in Amsterdam is open for business again but strict COVID-19 rules apply. Huub van der Lubbe will be performing and comedians Dolf Jansen and Lebbis who will be providing some corona inspired fun. Singer  Roxeanne Hazes, daughter of André, will also be appearing, along with many others. From August 1. Website

Check out the new talent
The Grachtenfestival for promising young musicians from across the globe is going ahead this year but in a slimmed-down version. The organisers have had to cancel public access to the intimate concerts in people’s homes, and there will be no free outdoor concerts.

Prize nominees MelleMeivogel

But there is much to enjoy indoors (and the Vondelpark will be staging some concerts too), and prices have been adjusted so more people can afford to go. August 7 to August 13. The complete programme, including an app to check availability, can be found on the website.

Don’t look down
Did you know Rotterdam has the biggest number of flat roofs of any town in the Netherlands? Built during the post-war reconstruction years, the buildings in Rotterdam are topped with a whopping 18 million square meters of flat roof. You can go on a tour of five ‘exclusive’ Rotterdam roofs with guide Esther Wienese who wrote a book about the town’s roofs and their history. Great views but don’t come if you have a fear of heights.  From August 8. Website

Take a meteor shower
Star gazers are in for a treat when the 2020 Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 11, 12 and 13. You can, of course, climb onto your own roof to see the show but observatories are also opening their doors, COVID-19 permitting. Go to this website and click on the dots to see who is organising what on the relevant dates.

Photo: Nasa

Ship the kids off
The Maritime Museum in Amsterdam has devised a comprehensive holiday programme for children from the age of 3, with lots of activities both in and around the museum. Competitions, aerobics classes and guided tours are just some of the fun stuff on offer. Until August 16. Website

Believe in miracles
Miracles never cease, is the message of a fascinating and wide-ranging exhibition at the Catharijne Convent in Utrecht. Experiences beyond the realm of the possible from different cultures, religious and otherwise, have been depicted by artists throughout the ages.

Nathan Coley, A place beyond belief, Studio Nathan Coley

Allemaal wonderen (Lots of miracles) combines Marina Abramovic levitating above a pan of soup, David Bowie’s Lazarus and traditional Christian depictions of miracles by old masters, and dips into efforts made by science to explain the inexplicable. Until August 23. Website

Meet the artist’s gaze
What did they look like? What is it they wanted the public to see and what were they hiding? The Van Gogh museum is inviting visitors to find out about the person behind the artist and how the two are connected in an exhibition about identity and image. Van Gogh’s famous rendering of himself with a bandaged ear tells its story and so do the (self) portraits of some 70 other artists, Degas, Courbet, Morisot  and Toorop among them. Until August 30. Website

Get that sofa bed
It’s 60 years since designer Martin Visser (1922-2009) designed his BR02 sofa bed, a sleek little number which has become an enduring Dutch icon. It has never been out of production and both new and vintage examples are adorning the rooms of the discerning with a few euros to spare.

Modern Dutch top designers are paying homage to Visser at Utrecht’s Centraal Museum where Marcel Wanders, Kiki Van Eijk, Richard Hutten, Jan des Bouvrie, Carolina Wilcke, Reinier Bosch, Piet Hein Eek and Sabine Marcelis are presenting their take on the sofa bed. The eye-opening sofa bed is on until November 1. Website

See Maier’s cities
Vivian Maier (1926-2009), the American nanny who loved photography, was the unassuming author of over 100,000 brilliant photos which only came to light in 2007. The streets of New York and Chigago were Maier’s hunting ground resulting in a unique documentation of the cities and their inhabitants. Most were in black and white but Maier also excelled at colour photography. Foam in Amsterdam is exhibiting some 60 colour photographs made between 1956-1986. Until September 13. Website

Gotta dance
Dancers are not made to sit still and the members of company Conny Janssen Danst are no exceptions. Unable to dance together, they have created a number of solo performances during lockdown, four of which form part of the Amsterdamse Bos open air Bostheater programme.  Monuments in Solitude can be seen from August 27 to August 30. Website

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