Zeeland - Land of events
Nothing if not eventful, Zeeland. Music, dance, theatre, sport – we’re full of them, and always nearby the water. Yes, a land of events, whether you run with it and embrace the elements, or you immerse yourself in culture and landscape. Where would you like to start? Here’s the list of all the great festivals and events on offer. Lucky thing!
The route of the coast marathon runs over the beaches of Zeeland, its woods and the dunes, from Burgh to Zoutelande. And ‘run’ is the word, out there in the elements. It is rightly known as the prettiest, and some say the hardest, marathon of the Netherlands. As well as the Kustmarathon, there’s the more sedate Wandelmarathon, for walkers. Added to these two over time have come a mountain bike version, a Ladies Run, a Mini-Marathon and a Light Kustrun. It’s all held in the first weekend of October.
Just where do daredevils go to megastrut their stuff best in Zeeland? All roads – you know what we mean – lead to the DAM-X annual freestyle windsurfing spectacles at the Brouwersdam, under zillions of approving wannabe eyes, European champions no less. Leaps, flips, speed, breathtaking colours. Wanna DAM-X yourself? There are workshops all weekend for hopefuls and sinewy straight-backed tanned swaggering dudes (m/f) – you’ll soon pick up the walk. And that neck angle. Surfing, sailing, supping and, whooooooosh, was that you? – body sliding down that water jump. Did we mention ejector seat into the waves? Ha! Quite a way to spend your October.
Festival of Zeeland-Flanders
For decades this has been the largest classical music festival in Zeeland. It has gradually built up an international reputation, and is now one of the better-known classical festivals in West Europe. A whole month long, and across the region, it organises a variety of concerts, ranging from symphony orchestras to solo artists.
Concert at Sea
The Concert at Sea on the Brouwersdam was created as a modest fest of the Zeeland pop group Bløf. Now the two-day event draws some ten thousand people. A big wheel looms large over the festival site, there’s a sandy beach, and street theatre is, well, ubiquitous. You might well think that a crowd of pop stars are queuing up to come onstage, so special is this place. Time for bite, and a drink? There’s the usual greasy concert fare, ok, but equally, sound, healthy options. Do what you think best, where the land meets the water.
Onderstroom, the undercurrent
The four-day long Onderstroom festival of street theatre and music-on-sea is pure Vlissingen. Super troupes, amazing podia, an eclectic mix of tents and marquees, all manner of expressive arts and, it says here, some curious acts indeed. The folk at organisers Cultuurwerk will pull out all the stops – and quite a few starts – for you. They do other noble stuff across town too, like the wintertime Wonderstroom and the Liberation (Bevrijdings) festival.
Every year in our Indian summer, the Zeeland Nazomerfestival delivers special performances at very special locations. Like the old sugar storage sheds in Sluiskil or the ‘t Grôôt Ôôt pier in Westkapelle. Music and dance can also be had on the Abdijplein in Middelburg. Popular artists like Kensington, Jett Rebel and our very own Bløf group have played there. You’ll need to reserve early to get a place at our Nazomerpicknick at the festival. Bring your own food and drink, we provide the long tables, and, you bet, the music..
Mussel day Yerseke
Mussel day in Yerseke means a sailing trip on a mussel cutter, wandering around the street fair and, above all, yummy mussels! For just one day a year, the entire village is focused on these nuggets of ‘black gold’ – getting through a massive seven tonnes of them! The whole place is a seafood centre of excellence, as you’ll see with all sorts of shellfish when you visit Mussel Day.
Film by the Sea
Fancy a film festival at the seaside, with its built-in literary contest? Join the ten thousand visitors to Vlissingen where Film by the Sea is held annually in the Cinecity complex, just off the boulevard on Westerschelde. Special features include Dioraphte Film and a literary award event. The best film version of a book is awarded a prize by a jury of notables from the worlds of the silver screen and books.
It’s got a name as one of the fastest-growing festivals in the Netherlands. Lasting three days and held on the outer fort (‘Buitenvest’) of the fortified town of Hulst. On the Sunday, Vestrock Junior is dedicated to the younger rockers, and – alongside – it sports its own brew of beer, Vestrock Blond. A varied mix of music, theatre and the educational, it has already been nominated for the European Festival Award on several occasions.
That Zeeland is a land of opposites is showcased remarkably well in ZeelandJazz. For a period of ten days, national and international jazz musicians come to Terneuzen for the first weekend and Middelburg for the second. The events in Terneuzen are run together with the Porgy en Bess culture platform, well-known for its track record on jazz and blues. In Middelburg, it’s hosted in the Kloveniersdoelen arts centre, thus adding jazz to its cultural menu. There’s nothing quite like sitting out in the garden of this vintage building on an early summer’s evening, as the tones of jazz waft through the sultry air.
The Klomppop Festivalweekend – think Clogpop – has a bit of everything: music, theatre, young talent, food, drink and a campsite. It makes for quite a weekend, held in the area known as Zak van Zuid-Beveland. It opens on the Friday with the Spectra talent contest. Saturday is wall-to-wall music, and Sunday is for street theatre. The latter is held mainly in the village of Ovezande. The concert stages are just outside the village, so it feels like a real festival in the polder.
City of Dance Festival
Over at the City of Dance Festival, the never staid Middelburg (provincial capital, mind) lets it hair down in torrents of music, culture, art and creativity. In the beginning, back in 2001, there was just a street parade of DJs and dancers on trucks, winding through the centre. Now it takes three days to pack ’em all in: performers, eight podia and we lost count of the music genres there. House, Hardstyle, Techno, Latin, Freestyle, 90's, Hiphop and the enigmatic ‘Feestmuziek’, for starters. Lost your dancing shoes, or need a breather? The lounge awaits you, or the camping offers a leafy space to chill. Want seconds? Well, we have a ferris wheel, energetic food trucks and street theatre over for you.
Fjoertoer Renesse, torch-lit
A mix of magical and mystery, the unique ‘Renesse fjoertoer’ is a torch-lit group walk, by moon light. Clustered among the trees and darkened spaces, enjoy the special exhibits, flames and creations, showing you the way. The full route takes in the dunes, beach and the village centre, a mere 17 clicks. The half-distance option is popular too. Fjoertoer is an import from the Friesian island of Terschelling; the name means ‘beacon’.