Concerts and Festivals
“Music/makes the people/come together.” This adage, popularized by Madonna in her song “Music,” is at the core of Groningen’s music scene. There are small stages where you’ll be able to find like-minded music lovers, for example on the special popular techno evenings appropriately titled Technootjes. But Groningen is also home to Europe’s largest showcase festival, Eurosonic, which will take place from January 11-13 next year, and many other festivals that bring together music lovers of all persuasions.
Eurosonic is the largest showcase festival of Europe. Over 200 bands give their all during the three-day festival, and Dutch media have hailed Groningen “the music capital of Europe” because of the wide variety of acts. Accompanying the event is a conference, where A&Rs and artists can mix and mingle, often with a record deal as reward. During these 3 days, many famous, alternative, and international musicians are coming to perform. In the past, artists like Adele, Lykke Li, Mumford and Sons, Stromae, , Dua Lipa had performed in Groningen. Noorderslag is the Dutch component of the festival, in which a variety of Dutch bands gets the opportunity to convince the world of their talents. Many Dutch artists have since propelled to national fame, and Noorderslag is the perfect way to sample everything that our small country has to offer—and trust us, that is quite a lot! You have to purchase festival tickets to witness all the goodness, but if your wallet doesn’t match your musical appetite, there are also other opportunities during the festival. In music store Plato and next door coffee place Coffee Company, many acts that also perform at the festival give free showcases. And if you’re simply to comfy in your room to go outside at all, the concerts are also broadcast live on Dutch television.
Noorderzon Festival happens in the last week of August – the start of September. The Noorderzon is an international art festival and a large-scale summer fest for 135,000 visitors. The heart of the festival is the idyllic Noorderplantsoen (a city park) where, for eleven summer days, a freely accessible festival village appears almost out of nowhere to provide a setting for theatre, dance, music, literature and visual art in combination with eating, drinking, and social encounters. Some of the performances are paid and others are free to visit.
King’s Day festival
The King’s Day is on 27th of April and it is one the biggest national party days in the Netherlands. During the King’s Day, many different events are happening around but the on in Stadspark is one of the most impressive events to visit. Usually, headliners of the King’s Day Festival are famous people as Armin van Buuren, Nicky Romero, Timmy Trumpet, Tiesto and many more. The ticket is around 35 euro but totally worth it for such a great line up.
Liberation Day festival
The Liberation Day is on 5th of May. It is a national celebration with diverse activities in every city. The Liberation Day Festival is spread through the city on many different spots. The main stage is at Stadspark. The musicians are international and Dutch, and the concerts are free of charge.
Groningen is a very jazz city because of the Conservatorium and the jazz lovers. Swingin’ Groningen is the jazz festival of Groningen happening at the end of June. The festival is happening in 3 days with stages all around the city. The concerts are with a free entry and it is a great place to fall in love with the jazz music. Many international jazz musicians are invited to perform for Groningen.
Rapalje Zomerfolk Festival
The summer festival is in the 1st week of June celebrating the start of the summer for 2 days. The festival is located in the Stadspark. The festival is related to the Celtic culture, and people are dressed in the Celtic/Irish clothes and have a reenactment of their traditions. The music is traditional with bagpipes, Irish fold, and ballad bands. The festival involves lots of music, workshops, and entertainments. The price of the ticket per day is around 12-15 euro.
Peter de Grote Festival
The Peter de Grote Festival is a classical music festival with a duration of 12 days in the North Netherlands happening annually at the end of July -the start of August. During the festival days, approximately 50 chamber music concerts are happening with a diverse location in Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe. The price of the ticket is diverse for different days however it is in between 5 and 25 euro per concert.
KEI week is happening annually in the 2nd week of August. It is meant to introduce first-year students to the city. First-year students are divided into groups of 5-10 people and go to different location and activities in Groningen. The KEI week continues for 5 days and most of the days it finishes with an amazing party. The ticket to participate in the activities is 28 euro. It is a great event to get to know people and places in Groningen.
Paradigm Festival is happening in the 2nd week of August. The festival is more about electronic, techno and house music. The festival is outdoor, and it has a good chill and art areas.
StuKafest is the most original festival in town, as all of the action takes place in student rooms (studentenkamers in Dutch, hence the name). Bands perform in rooms made available by Groninger students, which gives an intimate and unique touch to the concerts. There are also plays and other art forms that showcase themselves during the festival. If you’re not willing to wait for the actual event, then you should check out brand new initiative WishfulMusic. This volunteer-based initiative organizes so-called ‘living-room concerts” on a regular basis, with national and international bands giving act de presence. And the best thing is, it’s—with some exceptions—all for free! Reservations are required, as capacity is not unlimited because of the setting.
Misfit Festival is the biggest LGBTQ+ festival in the North Netherlands. It is a 2-day event celebrated with a party at one of the big clubs in Groningen. The festival is held in spring and in the autumn period where people celebrate the diversity and their sexuality.
Groningen is one of the most international city in Europe and with their culture, people also bring their awesome food here. Food festivals are beloved by students, who do not want to cook, and by curious people who love to explore new cultures through food.
MultiCulinair Food Festival
The MultiCulinair Food Festival is happening at the end of May at Bernoulliplein for 3 days. During those days, people can buy food from different cultures as Italian, Spanish, Mexican, etc. from food trucks. There is no entry fee.
De Culinaire Verleiding
At the start of July, for 2 days the food truck festival is happening in Noorderplantsoen. Meanwhile, the food consumption also live music is performed where you can enjoy the sunshine surrounded by green nature. There is no entry fee.
Beer is the national drink of the Netherlands. There are many different types in terms of colors, sweetness, strength, and types of beers. The beer festival in Groningen is held in the 2nd week of April in Martinikerk. The Netherlands is famous for its beer and at the event, you can try out beers from local and small breweries. The festival stimulates smaller breweries to expose their product and make them more popular. The beer festival is going on for 4 days and the price is around 20 euro per day to try a few beers.
Whisky Festival Noord Nederland
The whiskey festival is also held in Martinikerk at the end of March for 3 days. You will have the chance to try out top quality whiskeys with an explanation of the techniques it is made. The price of this event is 30-50 euro per day, but true whiskey lovers will know that one small glass of whiskey can cost 30 euro. Therefore, for people who want to explore the whiskey, this event is a great opportunity.
De Nacht van Kunst en Wetenschap
Literally translated this festival is “The Night of Art and Science” and it happens on 4th of June. Groningen is undoubtedly the art and science center of the Netherlands. The festival is spread around the city at 20 different locations in Groningen. The festival starts at from 20 pm till 2 am and it covers topics as science, music, theater, film, literature and more. The festival finishes with an after party in Vera. The ticket for students is 12,50 euro and allows you to visit everything.
Jonge Harten Theaterfestival
Jonge Harten is a nine-day international theatre festival that gives a stage to young theatre-makers. The language is not a problem because most of the arts are to be felt. One full day of visiting the festival costs 15 euro, however also tickets are sold 1 hour in advance before the performance. The festival has been around for 20 years and every year attracts more and more visitors.
International Film Festival Rotterdam in Groningen
International Film Festival Rotterdam- IFFR is hosted for 5 days in Groningen by Groningen Forum. The festival starts from 10 am till 2 am for those 5 days. The festival in Groningen is usually in the first week of February. The movies are shown for the first time and they are competing for an award in different categories. Almost all the movies in the IFFR in Groningen program are English friendly. The screenings locations are at Groningen Forum, Vera and Grand Theater. The price for students to watch a movie is between 5 and 8 euro.
Inspiratiefestival Let’s Gro
Festival about the future of Groningen organized by the municipality of Groningen. It is a festival full of good conversations, informative meetings, interactive debate, inspiration and more. During Let's Gro, you can make contacts, feed you with ideas and broaden your horizons in the physical and digital world. Many business ideas were started by students who had great ideas and presented them during the festival. The festival is located at Grote Markt at the start of November. Some of the discussions and presentations are in English language and the entrance is gratis.
The Fair in Groningen
The fair in Groningen is happening annually from 10th till 21st of May and the 21st till the 28th of August. During those times, the fair is placed at Grote Markt, Vismarkt and Ossemarkt where you can enjoy some exciting fair installations as the fair wheel, fun games, and extreme installations.
U2 performed here in 1980. Urban legend has it that Kurt Cobain threw up here after Nirvana performed. The Simple Minds, The Libertines, Weezer, and Pearl Jam, they were all Groningen once. In short, Vera is the place where many world-famous bands have started—or accelerated their career. It mostly hosts indie or still relatively unknown bands. This year, visitors of Vera voted Swedish act The Tallest Man on Earth and Ireland’s The Villagers as the best acts to have performed at the stage. Vera also hosts the monthly “Zienema” (pronounced as cinema), in which a film that revolves around a poignant social matter is first introduced by an expert and then screened.
Grand Theater is in the middle of the city of Groningen, located near the Grote Markt. It hosts diverse art performances as music, theater, dances, and exhibitions. The students get a 5-euro discount per visit, per performance. The theater is open every day of the week and at the doors of it is located the World of Barista Theatercafé from which you can purchase also your tickets. The Grand theater is often a festival location in Groningen.
Martiniplaza is the biggest event location in Groningen. Often concerts, exhibitions, congresses, theater, and sports events are held with the capacity of 3000 people. The Martiniplaza is located south of the center of Groningen, near Stadspark.
Simplon is home to the aforementioned Technootjes, but in addition to this has evenings devoted completely to other musical styles, such as hip-hop and Latin. It is also the prime location where local and national talent gets a stage to showcase their talents, as Simplon organizes many open nights and talent nights. So, if you find a few others and form a band, it could be you on the stage!
Oosterpoort and Stadsschouwburg
The Oosterpoort is the largest pop music venue in the northern regions of the Netherlands. Located at the Trompsingel 27, the Oosterpoort is close to the central station and the city center. There are two concert halls in the building, the 'Grote Zaal' which literally means 'big room', and the 'Kleine Zaal' which thus logically means 'small room'. Some famous artists that played here recently are Queens of the Stone Age, Band of Horses, The Wombats, The National and Wolfmother. Next, to these bands, the Oosterpoort also has a lineup of many classical performances, cabaret and dancing shows.
De Wolken Fabriek
De Wolken Fabriek was a factory but now it is a restaurant and an event venue. The factory is located at the west of Groningen, nearby Stadspark. Regularly exhibitions, jazz concerts, theater and many other activities are on the agenda of the factory. The interior is unique and preserved as the past function of a factory. The prices of the performances are different and student friendly.
Der Aa Theater
Der Aa Theater is inside the city, small theater located close by the A-kerk. The theater is given to cultural events happening in Groningen. The theater is used also for meetings, performances, presentations, training sessions, rehearsals, exhibitions and so on.
Helsinki is an event location used by different organizations for their performances such as bands, theater, festivals and others. The event place is not so popular but unique and cool hotspot for culture. It is unfortunately not very close to the city center- located more behind Ikea.