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Ode to the Landscape

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Theme Year 2021: Ode to the Landscape

The Dutch landscape will be in the limelight for an entire year. Discover extraordinary places, experience the National Parks, go on a fortress safari or a road trip to see land art. You will find out how different landscapes came into being, their importance for the future, and the unique diversity in the Netherlands. In short, a theme year brimming with activities and experiences in various places throughout the Netherlands.

  • Dutch landscapes: diversity, importance for the future, and source of inspiration.
  • Get an early taste of the theme year and check out 7 top activities in 2021 today.
  • A year brimming with activities, from art routes and nature safaris to exhibitions and special events.

Partners in Ode to the Landscape

There are seven enthusiastic partners who will ensure a theme year full of surprising projects, including Achterhoek, the provinces of Flevoland, Friesland, Limburg and North-Holland, Hollandse Waterlinies, and Nationale Parken. A spectacular launch event will be held in February 2021, but more about that later. Limburg kicks of the theme year now with a multifaceted exhibition about the Meuse river at Limburgs Museum.

Step into the landscape, let it embrace you, experience it with all your senses!

Get an early taste of the theme year and check out 7 top activities in 2021 today.

The Mighty Meuse exhibition at Limburgs Museum

Watch the trailer

Limburg kicks off this fall with an exhibition on the Meuse, a river with four faces. Experience the Meuse as a Muse for landscape painters and a Monster that floods villages and fields. A Murderer due to polluted water and plastic waste, but in the first place as a Mother to everyone in Limburg. Countless artists and designers contributed to this multidisciplinary project at Limburgs Museum. Visit the Mighty Meuse now.

Street art on grain silos

You can do the Silo-Art-Tour in the Achterhoek in the near future. In several places, a street artist will create works on objects and buildings connected to farm life. The paintings tell a story of the history and people of that particular spot and the landscape. Together, the artworks constitute a route, allowing you to discover the bocage landscape in the Achterhoek and the relationship to the agricultural industry in this region.

Man-made land: Sailing to the Marker Wadden

Marker Wadden, lookout tower Haveneiland

A short distance from Amsterdam, you will find Nieuw Land National Park in our country’s youngest province of Flevoland. Go on a boat excursion and experience the ‘man-made land’ of Flevoland for yourself: sail past the work island and the landscape art ‘De Hurkende Man’ (The Kneeling Man) and to Haveneiland (Port Island) of the Marker Wadden. These recently created islands are in full development, the area gaining colors and depth, bird species returning, and special species making a home for themselves. The observation huts, both raised and at water level, offer up an amazing view of the birds and Markermeer lake.

Fortress safari with a forest ranger

The landscape of the Hollandse Waterlinies is a landscape full of secrets, stories and extraordinary objects. The fortresses and hidden islands were closed to the public for years, resulting in a high local biodiversity of flora and fauna. You will encounter animals, insects, plants and flowers with amazing emergence stories in every fortress. From mini steppes to dense jungles, it can all be found in and around the fortresses. Join a forest ranger on a fortress safari around one of the fortresses in the Hollandse Waterlinies.

The Wadden Sea as an open-air decor

Only in Friesland will you find a landscape that looks different from day to day, since the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage Site changes with every tide! Where today there are sandworms and gullies, tomorrow there will be sandflats and waves. In September 2021, this will be the natural backdrop for the Wad Opera ‘Peter Grimes’. Behind the dyke at Paesens-Moddergat, 150 extras, actors and singers will perform the story of the fisherman called Peter Grimes. A unique spectacle with a stunning decor. Order your tickets now

Whispering mills

The windmills of North-Holland have been a source of pride in our cultural history for many centuries. In the past, they were sustainable engines that helped shape our country. In 2021, twenty-one mills in North-Holland will unite, whispering stories of times past and inspiring us to shape North-Holland's landscape in the future. From mid-May onwards, you will be able to activate windmill stories via the IZI-travel app, and play a different and exciting game for every mill. In the landscape surrounding these mills, there are places that demand new solutions. Together, these stories form the podcast of ‘The Secret Society of 21 Mills’. Listen to what the mills can tell us, because they show us the way into the future.

Land full of contrasts: experience the National Parks

Vogelobservatorium Haringvliet ‘Tij’ - Deltahaven, Stellendam

There are few places in the world where nature is as diverse in as small a space as in the Netherlands. The interaction between water and land and between nature and man is more tangible and inventive here than anywhere else. Experience it yourself. Throughout the year, there will be events and experiences in the National Parks. Take a canoe and search for beavers in the Biesbosch or go for a wadden hike on the bottom of the Wadden Sea. Peer at the star-studded sky in the Dark Sky Park, and what surprises does the ‘Tij’ giant egg hold for you?

Ode to the Landscape

Unique diversity

From the Frisian artificial hillocks to the Meuse as the lifeblood of Limburg, from the tamed IJsselmeer lake to the Hollandse Waterlinies or Dutch Water Defense Lines. Nowhere in the world is nature as diverse in as small a space as in the Netherlands. Looking at the bigger picture, however, a common thread emerges: the inventiveness of the Dutch to create an environment where people love to linger.

Urgency for the future

In all its splendor and multifaceted character, the Dutch landscape tells the same story of the age-old connection between man and nature. It also holds up a mirror for us: the choices we made in the past have an impact on the landscape of the future. And in that future, we will need our famous inventiveness more than ever to keep our landscape livable and fertile.


For centuries now, the Dutch landscape has served as a source of inspiration for painters, writers and poets. Travel through time into the past and future. Discover how the landscape connects, with the elements, with others, and with yourself. Step into the landscape, let it embrace you, experience it with all your senses. Through art projects, exhibitions and excursions throughout the Netherlands, we will bring an Ode to the Landscape in the year 2021.

What other activities will be available?

In a wide array of regions, you will be able to experience the landscape in your own way, walk around or stand still, seek inspiration and learn in 2021. We will add new activities to this page in the runup to the theme year.