Summer is a time for scuttling off to find a new adventure in some faraway land. Whilst many will head for the pearly beaches and bright lights of the Mediterranean, others might favour a city break. Cue Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ second city with a buzzing summer events calendar that can be juiced to the max without breaking the bank. Over the centuries the city has spawned humanist philosophers, radical designers and avant garde architecture as well as boasting a neighbourhood that’s literally synonymous with Cool.
From June to September, the city blossoms into a festival goer’s paradise, with free concerts and entertainment at every juncture. We’ll take you through some of the highlights from the rooftops to the riverside to be enjoyed without sweating over prices.
It’s worth mentioning some free sightseeing to tick off your list before the party starts. As a symbol of the city offering impressive views across Europe’s busiest port, find time to snap a photo on the striking Erasmus Bridge. If you want to fit in with the locals, grab a bike and cycle across the 800m long engineering marvel, with daily rentals starting at around €15.
Heavy bombing during the second World War means much of the old city was destroyed, however a tiny historical pocket remains in the form of the cute riverside neighbourhood of Delfshaven, perfect for anyone looking to swap the relentlessly shiny city centre for windmills and window boxes. Chase your sightseeing session by sipping on some stoom beer (a Rotterdam speciality) at De Pelgrim pub, housed inside a 16th century building.
Next, head back into town and admire the zany Cube house development, a perfect example of Rotterdam’s genre-defying modern architecture. It just so happens that the easyHotel Rotterdam City Centre is a short walk away, where you’ll find amazing value accommodation just seconds from the main sights.
As the sunshine lights up brutalist buildings, Rotterdam goes from being a sobering business centre to a dance music mecca in June. Things kick off with The Flying Dutch festival which sees 10 of the Netherlands’ biggest homegrown DJs take to the stage at the 11,300 capacity Ahoy Arena. Insane light shows and brutal drops await with the likes of Axwell and Armin Van Buuren taking to the stage for partying on an epic scale.
Meanwhile, Boothstock festival has a trendier lineup featuring the likes of Claptone, Friend Within and Basement Jaxx, who are sure to bring the party on the 11th of June. With day tickets at €37 it’s a minor expense for a chance to see such major talent.
It’s not all about the strobes and glow sticks though, with Rrrollend Festival coming to town from the 10th to the 12th of June. You’ll have the chance to sample the finest street food from around the world out in the fresh air at the stylish Noordplein park.
More music will fill the streets as July comes round, with the world famous North Sea Jazz festival returning from the 8th to the 10th of the month. Pop phenomenon Pharrell Williams will be headlining, whilst much-hyped newcomer Anderson Paak will also be making an appearance.
The downside of having such an amazing lineup is the steep ticket prices, but fear not, there’s a gloriously free alternative for more price conscious visitors. North Sea Around Town brings 200 concerts to locations across the city for two weeks, showcasing new talent as well as hosting jam sessions and masterclasses for anyone keen to join in.
Having binged on music for the first two months of the summer, August brings about open air celebrations for foodies, starting with HOP Bierfestival, now in its second year. Grab a glass for just €3 and meander through stalls serving refreshing microbrews to unleash your inner hipster whilst enjoying views from the secluded Wijkpark Oude Westen. The following weekend sees some of the region’s best restaurants take to the streets at CuliNESSE.
Great value music is still a defining feature of the events calendar, with the typically stylish Blijdorp festival bringing a day of laid back, throbbing electronica to Roel Langarak Park for a very reasonable €25.
As summer draws to a close, you may well have had your festival fix, leaving room to explore the ultramodern Markthal which is said to house Europe’s largest artwork in the form of the staggering 120m long “Horn of Plenty” mural by artists Arno Coenen and Iris Roskam.
If you’ve still got the appetite for one final weekender, Rotterdamsekost fuses cuisine, culture and concerts for a mere €8 entry fee in what’s sure to be a sumptuous summer send off.
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