Leeuwarden-Friesland Capital of Culture 2018

Dare to dream – Dare to act – Dare to be different

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The European Capital of Culture 2018 countdown is almost over in Leeuwarden, the capital of the Dutch province of Friesland. With the official opening on the weekend of 26, 27 and 28 January, it’s time for new ideas originating in Friesland to spread to the rest of the world. With culture as the driving force, Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 will show that it takes courage and unconventionality to realise bigger dreams, actions and diversity on an international scale.

Open community

By bringing together artists, scientists, farmers, headstrong Frisians and visitors with good ideas, the European Capital of Culture intends to shape the world as an open collaborative community (or ‘iepen mienskip’ as it’s known locally in the region). That’s precisely what the Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 programme is about. Thousands of Frisians are involved in the programme, which emerged from a widespread grassroots movement. New perspectives by international artists have led to an international programme that embraces an open and shared community feeling.

The Programme

The complete programme consists of more than 60 main events and hundreds of smaller projects. The projects are divided into four sections:

  • Dare to dream: projects that encourage us to dream big
  • Dare to act: projects that highlight the transformation to a more sustainable world.
  • Dare to be different: projects that promote more cultural diversity.
  • Royal Frisian: the pearls and local heroes of Friesland.

Some of the highlights of the programme will include:

Mata Hari, from 14 October 2017 to 2 April 2018 in the Museum of Friesland

A century after her death, the Museum of Friesland is hosting the largest exhibition ever to be devoted to the life of Mata Hari. Personal belongings, photographs, scrapbooks, letters and military records will introduce you to Margaretha Zelle, the girl behind the iconic Mata Hari. Travel with her from her hometown of Leeuwarden to the Dutch East Indies, where fate dealt her a different hand. Experience her glorious rise in Parisian dance theatres and discover the web of intrigue that ensnared her during the First World War, leading to her arrest on charges of espionage.

Escher’s Journey, from 28 April 2018 in the Museum of Friesland

Reproductions of his work can be found gracing the walls of teenage bedrooms, stores and apartments around the world. Escher’s work is particularly iconic and part of the collective memory of the world’s population. Who isn’t familiar with the birds and the salamanders, the stairs and the cubes? Escher’s Journey will be an extensive exhibition of this popular graphic artist’s work who originated from Leeuwarden.

Eleven Fountains – from 18 May 2018 in 11 cities in Friesland

Eleven Frisian cities and their residents welcome eleven internationally renowned artists to create a fountain in or around their centre. Each artist designed a fountain that relates to their city and history. These are not just fountains; they are contemporary works of art that express the history and culture of the Frisian cities in a unique way.

The Giants of Royal de Luxe 17-19 August 2018

After staging productions in Buenos Aires, Montreal, Liverpool and Barcelona, the Royal de Luxe street theatre company is bringing their iconic, gigantic marionettes to Leeuwarden. The parade of giants – some as tall as office buildings and apartment blocks – will march through the streets of Leeuwarden telling the story of the city’s history and folklore. The giants move with the help hundreds of volunteers who animate them as the show progresses. An awe-inspiring spectacle.


View the complete 2018 programme online. With detailed information per project and interviews with the faces behind Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018: https://www.friesland.nl/uploads/media/59d26290cb4be/lf2018-yearmagazine-en.pdf?v1