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Netherlands: Leeuwarden, European Capital of Culture

Each year, two cities belonging to countries of the European Union are designated European Capitals of Culture. In 2018, Leeuwarden is one of them. On this occasion, this city, located in Friesland in the north of the Netherlands, is developing a program of events that highlights the richness of its heritage and the liveliness of its culture, whether scholarly or popular. This is enough to make you want to go there and discover the Friesland region even more!



At the top of the Netherlands: Leeuwarden and Friesland



Leeuwarden is the capital of Frieze (Friesland in Dutch), northern province of the Netherlands which is north of Amsterdam, close to Germany, and by the North Sea.

There developed a original culture, under Germanic influence - there is also a Friesland on the other side of the border (Ostfriesland). Here, Frisian is spoken as much as Dutch.

Marked by the presence of polders, it is a region much appreciated for its lacs, as well as for its islands which follow one another in dotted lines in the wadden sea (World Heritage by Unesco).

Its main town is therefore Leeuwarden which, like other towns in the surrounding area, is crossed by canals and has a historic center remarkable - 600 monuments have been listed there.

We walk there pleasantly, not failing to go see for example the Grote of Jacobijnerkerk, a large medieval church, or theOldehove, a 40 m high leaning tower whose origin dates back to the 16th century. It should have become a very slender steeple if design errors had not interrupted its construction!

Leeuwarden also has museums such as the Museumhaven, which exhibits ancient ships in the port of the city, the Keramiekmuseum Princessehof (ceramics), the Natuurmuseum Fryslân (nature of Friesland), or the Fries Museum, which is devoted to Frisian arts and culture .

Ask for the program!



The festivityBas rather unknown. Here is a selection of events that will particularly animate them this year.

"Mata Hari" exhibition (until April 2)

Presented at the Fries Museum, this exhibition tells the story of the mythical spy who was active during the First World War, for the benefit of the Germans. Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was born in Leeuwarden in 1876 and rose to fame in Paris under the name Mata Hari, giving performances of Javanese dances. Unmasked, she was executed in 1917 in Vincennes.


"Escher en Voyage" exhibition (April 28 to October 28)

É1972) is world famous, especially for his fascinating compositions showing stairs that are both logical and impossible. The Fries Museum pays homage to him.

 Installation of 11 artists' fountains (from May 18)

11 Michel Othoniel is the Royal in Paris). These fountains will remain in place after 2018.

8ste Dag (all year round from July 8)

A huge machine that sets a number of objects in motion can be seen in Leeuwarden. Full of fantasy, this work called “8th Day” illustrates the fact that a society only exists if there are permanent interactions between its members.

Royal de Luxe (August 17-19)

The giants of this Nantes troop will stop off at Leeuwarden where they will walk, eat and sleep in the streets! Their show will tell a story inspired by that of Friesland.


"From Stormruiter" (September 6 to October 3)

This themed show refers to a legendary character, a phantom harbinger of storms and destroyed dikes… At the WTC Expo in Leeuwarden.

Sense of Place

Under this title are reof-place.eu

View our Netherlands online guide

All the information for the year European Capital of Culture: Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018  

Friesland Tourism

Netherlands Tourism 

How to get there ? Leeuwarden is connected by train to Amsterdam-Centraal and Schiphol Airport several times a day.
Several daily Paris Nord-Amsterdam connections with Thalys and flights between Amsterdam and France with Air France-KLM. Find your plane ticket.



Audio Video Netherlands: Leeuwarden, European Capital of Culture
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