Get involved

The cultural side of Groningen

Besides all the parting and endless amounts of beer, Groningen does offer a variety of cultural places and events some of which might be very intriguing even for internationals. Besides the rich history and some of the oldest buildings and monuments it holds, Groningen is a place full of interesting museums, theatrical events and fun cultural workshops. It might be nice for a change to get to know the city outside the usual university and bars and learn and experience interesting cultural things about a place you spend a lot of time in.

1. Theater

Theaters might not sound as interesting because usually the first thing even I think of is that the plays and other performances are in Dutch and I would not be able to understand or relate. However, despite the Dutch plays which are inevitable, there are a lot of events in English, performed by international groups or with an English subtitle. The city is adapted to students in such a way that there is variety for everyone and even theater is done right. The most popular places in Groningen are the Grand Theater, De Stadsschouwburg, Martiniplaza, Oosterpoort, Vrijdag, Der Aa Theater, Le Petit Theater, Municipal Theater, Theater de Machinefabriek. All of the places offer not only plays, but also dance performances, ballets, musicals, concerts and other modern art events which combine multiple artistic elements. Look up the agenda next time you don’t know what to do on a weekend and even if the event is in Dutch, the art speaks its own language which everyone can understand.

2. Museums

Groninger Museum is the first building you have or will encounter when coming to Groningen. Hard to ignore the abstract design of a building and its bright colors. The museums hold different exhibitions every couple of weeks and is free for students so it is a pity not to visit this modern art museum with a touch of local history. The other museums which you might find interesting are the Northern Maritime Museum which focuses on the history of province and ships, Grafisch Museum with a collection of old graphic design tools and projects as well as old newspapers, magazines and posters, University museum which often has very funny exhibitions as well as permanent ones related to Aletta Jacobs and human and animal’s dissection parts, Het Nederlands Stripmuseum (no there are no strippers here), but a cool old school collection of comics,  FC Groningen Museum for all football lovers who would like to find out more about the club and their achievements, Natuurmuseum which has full 6 rooms stuffed with taxidermy, skeletons, and other fascinating objects. All the museums are worth the visit. If you prefer modern art, Groningen has a number of galleries all over the city where you can take a look at colorful, abstract paintings.

3. Province

If you are in a mood to get out of the city and explore the more traditional parts of Groningen try visiting Hortus Haren, a botanical garden in Haren. It was created in 1642 and is the largest botanical garden in the country. It Is specific for its Chinese garden designed by a famous Chinese architect and for a butterfly and bee garden. Verhildersum is just one of the old farms(borgs) with big mansion like houses where rich families used to live in Middle Ages and is a nice place to visit and experience how Dutch families used to live as the house went through a lot of history. Museum Nienoord is a manor house special for its carriage museum. Fort Bourtange is a fort in the village of Bourtange and its known for its star shape. It was built in 1593 and was created for military purposes. There is also a seal sanctuary and a Klompenuseum – the museum of clogs, a traditional dutch wooden footwear and National bus museum in Hoogezand. Groningen is also a home to a famous Wall House, an unusually designed building made by an American architect. There are many more places Groningen holds, but whats sure is that it is full of history mixed with modernism.

4. Culture centers and more

If you prefer to create rather then look at art, why not join a culture center like Usva, where you can exploit your talents from photography and music to dance and acting. If you enjoyed Stranger Things Have Happened performances, you can take lessons and improve your comedy and acting skills as well as your self-esteem. Groninger Forum organizes workshops related to film where you can meet people with similar tastes in movies and discuss them in more detail. There are also many choirs and student orchestras. ESN has culture events all year around like language cafes, music projects and talent shows. It is also worth mentioning that there are other ways in which culture can be experienced, through food and food, flower and flea markets as well as old bard and churches around the city. Next time you walk around pay more attention to detail and you’ll be surprised how many traces history left in Groningen.

Written by Elena – PR Committee