Groningen is a city with a rich history, quaint little courtyards, a ring of attractive canals and some pretty exceptional architecture. A city that boasts an outstanding nightlife, where the bars have all but abandoned the notion of closing time. Discover atmospheric Groningen this winter and take in the many hotspots, highlights and events in the Netherlands’ capital of the north. Just a selection: the world's largest Christmas bauble, numerous welcoming Christmas markets in and around the city as well as the annual Eurosonic Noorderslag music festival. What's not to like? We'll give you 10 good reasons why you should come to Wintercity Groningen this winter, where you're assured of an extra warm welcome during the coldest winter months.
#1 Romantic exhibitions in the Groninger Museum
9 December - 6 May - The Groninger Museum is one of the city's flagships. This is the place to seriously absorb plenty of culture by enjoying some heart-warming exhibitions. This winter you can visit the exhibition Romanticism in the North - from Friedrich to Turner. Groninger Museum presents the first international survey in this exhibition of northern European Romantic landscape painting. And that's far from the complete story either, as the theme of the ‘artificial reality landscape’ informing the 'Also Romanticism' exhibition is another absolutely unmissable event for the lovers of Romanticism, fantasy, fashion and design. Make a surprising sojourn from the Black Romanticism by Studio Job to the sweet white collections of fashion designers Viktor & Rolf. Planning your visit to the Groninger Museum? More about Romanticism in the North >>
#2 Festival city of the 'Jonge Harten' theatre festival and much more
Brightly coloured leggings and tank tops characteristic of the summer festivals may be stored away, but that doesn't mean the end of the festival season. On the contrary: There are so many festivals going on in Groningen in winter. This year, there will of course be another OrbitFest (15 - 17 Dec); the futuristic winter festival of light that quite literally brightens up the darkest days of December. A different kind of visual treat is the World Press Photo exhibition (17 Nov - 10 Dec); an intriguing photo exhibition presenting the very best of current photojournalism from 2016. Theatre aficionados can block the Jonge Harten theatre festival dates (17 Nov - 25 Nov) in their agendas now. The festival, which showcases the work of many younger producers, visual and physical theatre, performance, dance and music, occupies just about every theatre in the city of Groningen. More of a movie buff? Groninger Forum will once again offer a good cross section of the reels impressing the Rotterdam International Film Festival (31 Jan - 4 Feb). For our younger festival-goers there are the Roald Dahl Festival (28 - 30 Dec) and My First Festival (28 Dec), a cultural party packed with theatre and music. To sum up: the winter festival season has just lifted off!
#3 DOT, the world’s largest Christmas bauble
From 6 December - DOT, the striking, spherical gastro-pub, will evolve into a gigantic Christmas bauble for the festive season. At over 26 metres in diameter, DOT declares that it will be the world’s largest Christmas bauble. Complete with a crowned top, this luminous giant Christmas bauble promises to be a real jaw dropper. Enjoy a pre-Christmas celebration with your colleagues, friends or family in this urban bauble; DOT guarantees you lots of festive frolicking fun. Address: Vrydemalaan 2, Groningen.
#4 Genuine Groninger conviviality during the WinterWelVaart event
15 - 17 December – The annual WinterWelVaart event always serves up the best of unrestrained, genuine Dutch wintry conviviality in what has to be the most beautiful part of Groningen’s city centre. The event will bring maritime history to life, both aboard the festively lit historical old boats and at the Christmas market on shore. Enjoy the comprehensive programme of music, theatre and art against the fairy-tale backdrop of the Hoge and Lage der A area, whilst warming your hands on a glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate. Unable to make it this year? Not to worry, the WinterWelVaart 'floating circus' event will tie up at Appingedam, Zoutkamp and Winschoten on 9 December, and dock at Garnwerd, Woltersum and Werf Wolthuis in Sappemeer on 13 December. More about WinterWelVaart >>
#5 Groningen on ice: almost 1000 m2 of fun on ice
16 November - 7 January - Once again this year, Groningen's Grote Markt will be magically transformed to become 'Groningen On Ice', the most enjoyable ice rink in the country. This ice rink, decked out with its atmospheric fairy lights and bunting, will be operational longer this year than last. And that's not the only difference: there will be more than 900 square metres of ice, compared to the 750 last year. The adjacent heated catering pavilion offers a magnificent view of the rink for those who'd rather watch the fun than participate. So sharpen up your skates! More about Groningen on Ice >>
#6 The music capital of Europe during Eurosonic Noorderslag
17 - 20 January - Eurosonic Noorderslag, with more than 40,000 visitors annually and a line-up of more than 350 bands from 31 European countries, really is the best place to discover new music. Emerging musical talent descends on Groningen in droves. For four days, the city becomes Europe's musical capital, welcoming a wealth of the very best musicians along with those who appreciate them. Can’t get tickets? Don’t worry, in addition to the larger ticketed events, there are plenty of free gigs throughout the city. More about Eurosonic Noorderslag >>
#7 Numerous hot hotspots
Groningen's pride is continuously boosted by winning coveted awards such as Best Bar, Best Shopping Street and Most Delicious Coffee. This just confirms a simple fact again and again: the city is chock-full of fun bars and restaurants, speciality shops and creative hangouts. There’s a fair chance things have considerably changed in Groningen since your last visit. New hotspots are being added every month. For example, this summer Mr. Mofongo added a stunning new rooftop wine bar and, along with the Barrel Wijnlokaal, won a place in the 2017 finals of the Wine Bar of the Year contest. Other brand-new additions to the city include Cappuvino, a coffee and wine bar, La Officina, an Italian concept store, and the French Bellami’s Bar á Manger. More spots in Groningen >>
#8 Shop till you drop seven days a week in the 'Best Shopping Street in the Netherlands'
Last spring, Zwanestraat was chosen by shoppers to be the Netherlands’ best shopping street. This street, which changes into Grote Kromme Elleboog, is one of Groningen’s most attractive corners, boasting a range of specialist shops as well as ample eateries and bars. Groningen is a shopping city par excellence, and this was confirmed two years ago when Folkingestraat scooped up the prized award. This winter, discover for yourself why shopping in Groningen is so much fun. Break away from the larger shopping streets and hunt down some real bargains in the smaller boutiques and concept stores. Good news: in Groningen most shops are open on Sundays and, during the festive season, late closing is not restricted to Thursday nights only - you can also continue your non-stop shopping fun on a number of Friday nights. More about shopping in Groningen >>
#9 Traditional Christmas markets in and around the city
To enjoy a traditional Swedish Christmas market or a typical German Weihnachtsmarkt, you no longer have to leave the country! There are all kinds of Christmas markets organised throughout the entire province of Groningen during December. For example, come shopping at the Swedish Christmas market in the Oude Suikerfabriek (9 and 10 December) or enjoy all the Christmas pomp and splendour of the festive Christmas atmosphere at the old Dutch Christmas market at the Fraeylemaborg Estate (16 and 17 December). More about the Christmas markets >>
#10 A varied winter programme in the city centre
December - January – During the festive season, visitors to Groningen will be treated to some additional excitement. The city centre will be magically transformed into a festive backdrop for various activities and events. There will of course be Christmas trees draped in beautiful lights on Ossenmarkt, Damsterplein and Staionsplein, and the Vismarkt will feature a special Warm Welcome visitor information desk. The astonishing Ice Festival will amaze with ice carvings by Peter, whose artistic sculptures will entrance everyone. Bad weather? Leave it outside, when the largest mobile indoor playground in the Netherlands opens its doors in Groningen. In a nutshell, both young and old will find plenty to keep them amused this winter. A full programme will be published soon.
Just a one-hour flight from Southend, Copenhagen and Gdańsk
As you may have read, Groningen has plenty of fun events scheduled for this winter; all of which are just a one-hour flight from Southend, Copenhagen and Gdańsk. So what are you waiting for? Book a flight and spend this winter in the magnificent city and province of Groningen.
Grab your diary and plan your city trip to Groningen today. Do you want even more inspiration? Have a look on citytrip.groningen.nl