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When is the official opening of the European Capital of Culture 2018?

“We officially kick off in the weekend of 26 - 28 January, 2018. Not only Leeuwarden is immersed in cultural revelry, but the whole of Friesland as well! We requested artistic leader Ira Judskovkaja of Frisian theatre company Tryater to make it an unforgettable event. She and her Tryater team are currently working on the implementation of the programme.”

When will you announce the full programme?

“We did so on Tuesday 3 October, 2017. Like many previous European Capitals of Culture, we announced the programme approximately 100 days before the start of 2018.”

What is the difference between the main programme and the iepen mienskip programme?

“The main programme is largely made up of the events described in the winning bid book. This programme was presented to the European jury in 2013. It is made up of the initiatives formulated by programme makers within LF2018. These are also the projects that we support financially. The main or core programme consists of approximately 60 projects. The 2018 agenda will include the mienskip programme, created by Frisians. These are ideas that stem from the villages, the countryside and the cities that make up the province. Examples include a theatrical performance in a village or a world record attempt to make the largest crocheted blanket in the world! The LF2018 programme has two sides: there is the main programme with over 60 projects (200 events if you include all the sub-projects) and an iepen mienskip programme, with a further 100 projects. With the main programme, we are attracting a national and international audience in particular. Once they are all here, we will introduce them to the iepen mienskip programme. The line between IMP and HP is sometimes very thin, something that is in the IMP might also have been in HP, but we had to make choices. HP is composed of many projects that are already in our bid, supplemented by other projects. Choices made on the basis of diversification across disciplines, target groups, region, time, etc. From day one we claimed that everything in our programme was allowed, and this is still the case now. In the IMP there is room for everything, with a link to culture of course. But culture is a broad concept.”

How many projects from your bid book will be realised?

“Approximately 80 percent of the program from the original bid book will be carried out.”

How safe will it be?

“Safety plans for all productions are drawn up in accordance with municipal guidelines. Authorisations for the events will only be granted if they comply with these measures. Without the permit, an event will not take place. If the authorities estimate that there is an above-average risk, additional measures will be taken. Consultation takes place on a regular basis between the mayor, police and the justice department. The organisations are responsible for this themselves, but as a regional organisation, we are of course involved.”

Where should all these people sleep?

“In our hotels, recreation parks, B&Bs, camping sites and youth hostels. For the more adventurous travellers: at various production locations out on the meadow, in livestock farmer stables and at pop-up camp sites in villages and neighbourhoods. A number of projects also provide for participants to sleep in people's homes (e.g. ESfAG).”

If so many visitors plan to come, where should they park?

“Visitors can use the parking garages and car parks in Frisian cities. In Leeuwarden, an additional Transferium will be made available at the WTC Expo. Temporary parking spaces will be provided for major events. We also encourage visitors to come by train, bus and even boat. The province of Friesland has invested heavily in the road network. The bottlenecks at the intersections at Joure, Harlingen and the Leeuwarden bypass have been resolved.”

What is being done regarding monitoring?

“Together with our public stakeholders, the municipality of Leeuwarden and the Province of Friesland, we appointed 32 KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that will make our financial and social objectives measurable in a transparent way. As a public non-profit, we are of course financially accountable and have maximum transparency. We also want to embrace the best practices of other European Capitals of Culture by conducting a comprehensive final report in 2019.”

Which projects require an entrance fee? Which are free to visit?

“The major events in public spaces, Opening, 8th day, Lân fan Taal, The Giants of Royal de Luxe, Places of Hope, At the Watergate, Lûd and Re-opening are free to visit. The existing events, such as the Oranjewoud Festival or Welcome to the Village, will require entrance fees as usual. This also applies to museum exhibitions and performances in theatres or on location. There are of course also new events that require admission, not just the existing ones.”

Where can interested parties best go for information?

“Blokhuisplein 40 - the Blokhuispoort - in Leeuwarden is open all year round. There are LF2018 Info Points throughout the province. An overview can be found on our website ( which has four available languages (Dutch, Frisian, English and German) to help visitors on their way.”

What is likely to attract the most visitors?

“The Giants of Royal de Luxe will undoubtedly bring a few hundred thousand people to Leeuwarden in August 2018. It’s a unique event for sure, as the French company has never performed in the Netherlands before. It’s astonishing to see the amount of visitors worldwide: Antwerp (2010) had 800,000 visitors, London (2006) had one million visitors and Mexico (2010) took the crown with 3.5 million visitors.

We also expect many visitors for the large exhibitions in the Museum of Friesland about Mata Hari (starts 14 October 2017) and Escher (starts 28 April 2018). If the exhibition on the works of Alma Tadema in the Museum of Friesland is anything to go by, then it’s safe to say we can expect a vast number of visitors. This exhibition was also part of the LF2018 program and was visited by 158,000 people. That was almost double the number of visitors that we expected, and it pumped no less than 7.6 million euros into the Frisian economy.

We expect tens of thousands of visitors per day for the Opening Weekend and the Reopening (closing event). Other projects that are expected to attract a lot of attention are 11Fountains, The Rider on the White Horse, Farm of the World and Sense of Place.”

How many people do you expect in 2018?

“We expect that the projects of Leeuwarden-Friesland 2018 will be visited by approximately four million people.”

How much does a visitor spend?

“Assuming an average spending of €20 per visitor, the turnover is likely to be €80 million.”

Where are online tickets sold for the performances?

“Via our website (, on the NDC media group (Van Plan) website, and on the websites of ticket sales productions (such as the Museum of Friesland, De Harmonie, etc.).”

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