Ask most Brits what they think of when you mention The Netherlands and they will probably answer windmills, clogs and tulips.
And while that maybe a little over exaggerated, the Dutch themselves are far more likely to say art, design and music!
Having spent an enjoyable three-day break as the guest of Amsterdam Marketing and the Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC), travel writer Alan Wooding was able to rekindle his passion for both classical music and art in Holland’s liberal capital city.
2013 has been quite a year for the Dutch as a whole and in particular for Amsterdam which has just hosted its 16th Grachtenfestival (August 16-25). It’s a special ten-day celebration of classical music – although it’s true to say that there were so many forms of ‘classical’.
Comprising over 170 individual concerts at 90 varied indoor and outdoor locations around the city, this year’s festival was bigger and better than ever due to a series of historic cerebrations.
With the long-awaited reopening of the Rijksmuseum following its ten-year multi-million euro restoration programme, the city was also celebrating 400 years of its UNESCO World Heritage Canal Ring, while it is also the 125th anniversary of the one of Europe’s best-loved concert orchestras and venues, the Concertgebouw.
It was back in April when one of Queen Beatrix’s final duties as the country’s monarch was to bestow the title ‘Koninklijk’ – which literally means ‘kingly’ – on the building which is highly regarded the world over for its incredible acoustics. It means it is now known as the ‘Royal Concertgebouw’.