The Netherlands’ biggest jazz festival has found a home amid the striking modern architecture of Rotterdam since 1976, but it hasn’t been afraid to change with the times. With around 150 performances on 15 stages over three days, there’s a show for everyone: something old, something new, something blues (not to mention hip hop, funk, and various other styles). Headliners in recent years have included Norah Jones, Herbie Hancock and Jamiroquai.
North Sea Jazz festival © North Sea Jazz Rotterdam
Held for three days over a summer weekend, this dance festival is usually sold out well in advance. Brabant is in the south of Holland but still only a short train trip from Schiphol Airport and this event maintains a family-friendly atmosphere. While Friday and Saturday are for over-18s, Sunday welcomes young children with an inflatable park and kid-friendly treats. It’s a great place to introduce them to your passion for music.
Add music and theatre to a major motocross event where amateurs are welcome and you have the biggest paid festival in the Netherlands. Now welcoming around 220,000 visitors, and the likes of Blondie, The Black Crowes and Kaiser Chiefs, “Black Cross” is a unique, bizarre experience. The small town of Lichtenvoorde is close to the German border but still only a three-hour train ride from Schiphol.
Revellers at the Zwarte Cross festival © Zwarte Cross
Schollenpop – Scheveningen, August
Scheveningen, a beach city outside of The Hague (around an hour from Schiphol by train) has a long expanse of sand lined with bars, restaurants and clubs. The beach party vibe lasts all summer and the free open-air festival Schollenpop pumps up the volume with the likes of The Boxer Rebellion, Killing Joke and The Cool Quest.
LowLands – Biddinghuizen, August
This three-day festival adds films, dance and other performing arts to the musical line-up across many genres. Recent years have seen The Prodigy, Basement Jaxx, Fever Rya, Grace Jones, La Roux, 2 Many DJs and Moderat, so expect plenty of indie and hip-hop. Biddinghuizen is about an hour east of Amsterdam and is famous for the Walibi Holland theme park, next to the LowLands festival site.
Festival goers at LowLands © Bart Heemskerk / LowLands
With its compact centre of canalside bars and clubs, and mix of historic buildings with avant-garde architecture, Utrecht is a perfect host for this “City-wide celebration of global sounds”. Churches, bars, halls and even industrial spaces become venues for a four-day festival that includes “The Biggest Record Fair In The World” with music from 500 different labels.
Ibaaku performs at LeGuessWho? in Utrecht. © Tim van Veen
Find your next festival in the Netherlands. Discover why Holland is the place to see your favourite DJ or artist. With listings of top festivals and venues including Spotify playlists, if music makes you travel then Holland is the place to be! FIND OUT MORE
Top image: © Piotr Piatrouski / Shutterstock