Holland Festival

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Stadsschouwburg with a banner of the Holland Festival in 2011

The Holland Festival (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɦɔlɑnt ˈfɛstivɑl]) is the oldest and largest performing arts festival in the Netherlands. It takes place every June in Amsterdam. It comprises theatre, music, opera and modern dance. In recent years, multimedia, visual arts, film and architecture were added to the festival roster.

Performances take place in Amsterdam venues such as the city theatre, the opera, the Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw concert halls and the Westergas factory site. Each edition is loosely themed, and the programme features both contemporary work and classical pieces presented with a modern edge. From 2005 to 2014 the Holland Festival was curated by artistic director Pierre Audi[1] who was working closely with artistic coordinator Lieven Bertels delivering a cutting-edge festival each edition.


Newsreel of a people's concert during the Holland Festival in 1951

The festival was founded in 1947[2] and features some of the world's top artists and performers, as well as lesser-known performers. Notable world premieres included Karlheinz Stockhausen's Helicopter String Quartet. The festival introduced Maria Callas in the Netherlands, and was also the first to successfully set up a large symphonic tribute to Frank Zappa with "200 motels-the suite" in 2000 (after failed attempts to have Zappa perform himself in the festival in 1981).

From 2005, the festival included off-series called EarFuel, EyeFuel and MindFuel. Outreach initiatives to new audiences include successful non-western concerts such as an Umm Kalsoum tribute by Egyptian star Amal Maher in 2010. The festival continues to serve as a beacon for other arts organisations, and is visited by a record number of international programmers and artists, seeking inspiration.

Pierre Audi left as Artistic Director of the Holland Festival in July 2014, continuing to focus on his role as Artistic Director of the Dutch National Opera and his work as a stage director.

In June 2013, British arts manager Ruth Mackenzie, former head of the 2012 London Cultural Olympiad, was appointed as the new Holland Festival Artistic Director from edition 2015.[3]


  1. ^ Pierre Audi
  2. ^ Ian Keown (1973), KLM Guide to Holland's Museums, New York: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, OCLC 4536808 
  3. ^ Nicola Merrifield, "Holland Festival Appoints Ruth Mackenzie as New Artistic director", The Stage (11 July 2013). (Accessed 29 October 2015).

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