The Holland Handbook: Culture in the Netherlands

The Holland Handbook: A dose of Dutch culture

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Immerse yourself in all aspects of Dutch culture with this brief overview of the many festivals, monuments, exhibits, and museums that showcase culture in the Netherlands.

Small on land but big on culture, the Netherlands is filled to the brim with a rich blend of visual and performing arts steeped in history. Home to almost 1,000 museums, the most famous of which are the Rijksmuseum and the Vincent van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, and Boijmans van Beuningen and the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, the Netherlands offers a cultural pick-me-up just waiting for you to imbibe.

Dutch museums are bulging with homegrown legacies with such a rich history of Golden Age painters and other artists, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Jan Steen, Frans Hals, M.C. Escher, Karel Appel and Piet Mondriaan. Even the small Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, which is known for, among others, the famous ‘Vermeer’ and ‘Rembrandt by Himself’ exhibitions, has made a name for itself.

From the artist’s palette to the architect’s drawing table, the Netherlands is home to no less than 55,000 historic monuments and buildings officially protected by preservation laws. These ancient buildings, some several centuries old, can be found not only in the larger inner cities of Amsterdam, Leiden, The Hague and Delft, but virtually everywhere. At the other extreme, the Netherlands is also renowned for its modern architecture, and there are many modern-day architects such as Rem Koolhaas, Herman Hertzberger, Aldo van Eyck and Jo Coenen, whose designs are admired by people the world over.

Performing arts venues, such as various theater groups, both ‘mainstream’ and experimental, are active all year round in theaters, parks and on the streets. Dance groups that are invited to perform across the globe include the Nederlands Dans Theater, Scapino Ballet and the National Ballet. Every year, The Hague hosts the Cadance Festival and Utrecht hosts the Springdance Festival. Every other year, you will also find the Holland Dance Festival in The Hague.

Throughout the whole month of June, you can visit the Holland Festival in Amsterdam combining all of the performing arts, while the Baroque Festival in Utrecht is famous for its medieval and baroque music. All the major cities have concert halls (such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam), where you can enjoy classical concerts and operas. And then there is Pinkpop, Paaspop and Parkpop, all three for popular music, and last, but definitely not least, the wild and woolly North Sea Jazz Festival.

And for movie buffs who want to see more than just the commercial block-busters, there are film festivals, such as the Rotterdam Film Festival in February, the Dutch Film Festival in September, the World Wide Video Festival in April, and the International Documentary Film Festival in December.

And while you’re on the ‘expat’ trail, be sure to catch a glimpse of the busiest seaport on earth in Rotterdam. Nearly destroyed in World War II, the city’s modern splendor is a striking testimony to Dutch ingenuity.

Getting in

Information about what is happening in the Netherlands is available on a variety of websites and English-language print media. Tickets for most entertainment and cultural events are available through the network of local information offices (VVVs) throughout the country, or through a network of online Uitburos.

The Ticketline telephone service offers a simple way of ordering tickets from your own home. A list of these organisations can also be found at the end of this chapter. Tickets can also be purchased at the respective theaters. For the more popular shows you should reserve tickets long in advance. For movies, you can find an overview for the whole of the Netherlands on the website listed at the end of this chapter.

Dutch museum pass

If you are particularly interested in museums, you might want to buy a museumkaart (museum pass), which is available at all participating museums (or via their website, – Dutch language only). This card gives you either free or discounted admission to more than 400 museums throughout the country. If you are older than 18, it will cost you EUR 54.95. A youth pass (under 18) costs EUR 27.50. There is a EUR 4.95 administrative cost the first year you buy the card.

In order to encourage younger people to take an interest in culture, the cultureel jongeren paspoort (CJP – Cultural Youth Pass) has been introduced for anyone up to 30 years old. It costs EUR 15 and can be bought at several locations including the Uitburos, the VVV offices and through their website ( The CJP offers you considerable reductions for many of the events listed above, and on their website you will find an overview of what is happening on the cultural scene.


Reproduced from The Holland Handbook by kind permission of XPat Media.

Places undiscovered by the massesTo order The Holland Handbook visit Hollandbooks. For more information about The Holland Guide App visit



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3 Comments To This Article

  • jericho posted:

    on 11th September 2014, 14:47:55 - Reply

    dutch have no history compared to Egypt or China. Their museums are joke. They just stole stuff from other countries and put them on exhibit (for example, what they stole from Russia few weeks ago).

    One can put the 50 euros to a better use: go to Germany and buy few years of your toilette paper supply with that.
  • elvis posted:

    on 11th September 2014, 09:42:17 - Reply

    dutch is formed around few things: 1) drugs 2) cheese 3) bread 4) bicycle 5) more drugs oh yea, and selling c**p for the price of gold and claiming it has to do something with their trade abilities?
  • carrico posted:

    on 3rd September 2014, 14:20:27 - Reply

    It is good that Groningen is often forgotten (Museum, Central Station/prototype for Amsterdam C.S.). A secret we must keep it.