Rotterdam was nominated the world’s best festival city a couple years ago, and with good reason. Not only does the city host many different festivals (not just in sultry summer, but also in the icy winter months), Rotterdam’s festival organisers also demonstrate daring and a drive to innovate in the programmes they design.
Besides internationally acclaimed festivals like the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January and the North Sea Jazz Festival in July, the city hosts more and more small, intimate festivals as well. And these newcomers are increasingly held in exceptional corners of the city. Old warehouses and silos, rooftops, abandoned buildings and ‘secret gardens’ offer inspiration. The port is also popular; concerts are held regularly in factory halls, wharves, shipping containers and tucked-away corners of liminal space where electronic music and avant-garde art flourish surprisingly well.
In the summer months, the parks are the place to be. Lots of the festivals held in Rotterdam’s parks are free. Examples include the Metropolis festival (where you can see bands play live before their big breakthrough), the fairytale Duizel in het Park festival (a veritable valhalla for children) and the Day of Romantic Music (rustling gowns, white wine, oysters and string quartets). If you love good food, Rotterdam is a great place to eat. From small-scale markets in city squares, like the Rotterdam Harvest Market, to popular food truck festivals like HOP Rotterdam and Rrrollend Rotterdam: food festivals are hot.