Groningen’s international festival of arts and culture once again opens up the city to new experiences.
Written by Sandra Mako Sanchez
August 12 marked the beginning of Noorderzon. This year there is a circus theme to Groningen’s summer festival of arts and culture. It reflects the “circus” of organizing an event during a pandemic. Candy-striped tent structures have been set up as stages and food stands. Recirquel, one of the main programs, is an acrobatic performance.
Performances begin today, August 13th, and will continue until the 22nd. Today’s opening concert is LUWTEN, a “danceable dreamy indie pop shrouded in a meticulously shrouded electronic environment”. The performances have been set up in the Noorderplantsoen park, as well as several theaters and other partners around the city. These include contemporary art acts, children’s events, talks by community leaders and researchers, and concerts. Tickets are needed for most programs. They may be purchased here.
The festival was started in 1991as a small, local affair. It concentrated mostly on music in the beginning, but it has grown significantly to become an international host of a variety of artistic endeavours. In recent years, Noorderzon has come to attract over 140,000 visitors from all over the world. In 2016, it received the European EFFE award for trend-setting European festivals. The organizers state that their mission is to be a platform for experimentation and discussions which spark reflection.
As a socially conscious institution, Noorderzon has prioritized sustainability and accessibility. Vegetarian options are given for most, if not all, food stands. Reusable cups have been put in place, as well as water-filling stations. Used coffee grounds will be given to an oyster mushroom farm in Boerderij, de Mikkelhorst, to be used as fertilizer. The park is being run on ‘renewable’ biodiesel, solar energy generators, smart switch boxes, and LED lights. Crew clothing and merchandise have been crafted from recycled materials. With the help of the organization Accessible Groningen, Noorderzon has improved wheelchair accessibility and hired sign interpreters.
The Noorderzon park grounds are open from 1300 to 2400. Entrance to the grounds is free, although space is limited in order to enforce a 1.5 meter rule.