Leeuwarden, Holland – European Capital of Culture 2018

The next two year will be an exciting time for this northern Dutch city as it prepared for its special status. Peter Morrell reports

Exciting news from Leeuwarden in Holland as it will become the European Capital of Culture in 2018. Plans are already well underway to mark the celebrations with a range of special events that will involve both visitors and residents of the area. This will be based around the concept of ‘Iepen mienskip’ or open community which will see everyone participating in the planned events.

One of the first success of the project was the Silver-Gilt Award won at the recent RHS Chelsea Flower Show for the AkzoNobel Honeysuckle Blue(s) Garden which is part of the Farm of the World project created for the Leeuwarden 2018 program.

The Dutch show garden received the Silver-Gilt Award, which is between gold and silver, in the category Fresh Gardens. The AkzoNobel Honeysuckle Blue(s) Garden is entirely dedicated to historic dye crops. These plants are in the spotlight due to their contribution to biodiversity and their capability of producing high quality dyes.

The garden was built by Stefan Jaspers and co-designed by Claudy Jongstra. This was the first time either Jaspers or Jongstra had exhibited at RHS Chelsea. Manager of the Project Luiten said: “We’re here for the first time. No-one counted on this outcome. Not even our sponsors AkzoNobel and the Dutch Embassy.” The showcase garden in London will be re-produced by Claudy Jongstra in Leeuwarden in 2018.”

The ‘Elfstedentocht’ (Eleven Cities Tour) is an almost 200-kilometre long ice skating tour that covers a route of frozen lakes, canals and ditches in the province of Friesland in the northern part of the Netherlands. It leads to eleven beautiful, ancient cities of the province and is one of the most legendary of Dutch traditions. A unique way of revitalising the great tradition of the Elfstedentocht will be the installation eleven fountains in each city designed by eleven renowned artists from all over the world.

In another initiative the Fries Museum will devote an exhibition to the former Leeuwarden artist MC Escher (1898-1972). His birthplace, the current Ceramics Museum Princessehof, will put his works on display. The Fries Museum will develop the exhibition in close cooperation with game designers and visual artists for whom Escher’s work is a source of inspiration. Simultaneously, the exhibition makes a connection with the source of inspiration of Escher himself: a unique collection of Islamic tile work.

The City of Leeuwarden itself has a long heritage, it was originally the home of the House of Nassau, the ancestors of the current Dutch Royal Family and this is reflected in the architecture

For more information about Leeuwarden Holland – European Capital of Culture 2018 go to www.2018.nl/en

For more about visiting Holland go to www.holland.com