The year in which Leeuwarden-Friesland carries the European Capital of Culture title for all of Holland began in late January with a grand opening that was broadcast live on the Dutch national channel NPO 1. The Royal couple rang the clock on the Wilhelminaplein in Leeuwarden, after which all the clocks in Friesland rang out for a minute. The Opening weekend was followed by a period of sold-out productions - from on-location theatre about Frisian and Polish workers in greenhouses to hidden stories from churches and theatre by victims and perpetrators within the prison walls.
In May, fountains designed by various international artists opened in ten of the eleven historic Frisian cities. Also in May, Friesland was selected as Lonely Planet's #3 'Best in Europe'. The renowned travel guide placed Friesland in Europe's top three of the most exciting and previously underrated destinations. Travellers who want to explore the best places outside the most popular usual European destinations are now discovering Friesland. It was the first time that Lonely Planet has put a Dutch region in the top three.
What are we looking forward to? September is dedicated to De Stormruiter, the biggest show stopping horse spectacle in Holland. Over a hundred Royal Friesian horses shine in this Frisian stage adaptation of the German novel Der Schimmelreiter.
In the Fries Museum, the exhibition Rembrandt & Saskia: Love in the Golden Age opens on 23 November. The Frisian Saskia van Uylenburgh was the first great love of the Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn. November, the last month of the cultural year, is not an end but a new beginning. Visitors immerse themselves in the celebratory spirit of typical Leeuwarden autumn festivals that will liven up the streets of Leeuwarden. Among other activities, this three-week autumn festival will host LUNA, a light spectacle taking place throughout the city centre. At the Northern Film Festival, international talent will show their work through Sailing on the Grass, a programme in which international film makers came to Friesland to make a documentary about the area.