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Holland: 7 Superb Summer Event Ideas

By Anne Thornley-Brown
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Summer is an excellent season for meetings, conferences, and events in Holland. Music festivals, sailing events, culinary experiences, and arts events add excitement and there are truly innovative meeting spaces and unique venues to delight participants.

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Mention Holland and images of tulips, windmills, and canals come to mind but that is only part of the story. In the summer, when temperatures are a comfortable 17°-20°C, Holland offers a range of activities, festivals and other special events.

There are 12 provinces in The Netherlands. Amsterdam, Haarlem, and Edam are in North Holland, Maastricht is in Limburg, and Rotterdam, Gouda, and The Hague are in South Holland.  As Holland is a small country, groups can get around quickly to explore a variety of attractions.

Let’s join Mr. Holland for a quick tour.

Holland: 7 Superb Summer Event Ideas

Major Attractions in Holland

The summer is the perfect time to explore Holland’s open air, “living museums”. These re-created villages showcase Holland’s traditional culture and lifestyle. Zuiderzeemuseum, Orvelte, Arnhem, and Zaanse Schans are a few examples of living museums. Some of them have facilities for meetings and events.

Some of Holland’s other must-see attractions include:

  • Vondelpark: The open air theatre in this 47 hectare park has 1,500 seats
  • Anne Frank’s House: Where Anne Frank hid with her family and wrote her diary
  • Royal Palace of Amsterdam: One of the 3 palaces that are used by the Dutch Royal family
  • Efteling: This fairy tale themed amusement park is perfect for groups with families.
  • Dolfinarium: Dolfinarium in Harderwijk is a family friendly attraction that uses technology to showcase dolphins

This drone tour shows Holland’s major attractions:

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7 Superb Summer Event Ideas in Holland

During the summer, there are activities, festivals and events to cater to every taste.

  1. Enjoy Sizzling Summer Sounds

The Amsterdam Roots Festival kicks off the summer season with positive vibrations from sun destinations. Reggae, rhumba, salsa, zouk, and a variety of African music. That same weekend, Unlimited Carnival and Dunya Festival brings tropical fever to Rotterdam. There is even a Caribbean style jump-up parade. The International Chamber Music Festival in Utrecht, which features classical favorites, also ushers in the summer season.

Sensation Amsterdam, a dance event, takes place during the first weekend of July. In mid-July, Jazz legends perform at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam.

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In August, Lowlands, which takes place in Biddinghuizenm, delights hip-Hop, rock and pop fans for 3 days.

Depending on group demographics, sensation electronic music, which originated in Holland, may be the perfect way to bring music to your own events.

Here is a creative way to bring music to your own events in Holland.

  1. Embark on an Art Escapade

Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt and the Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens are just a few of the artists of Dutch heritage who have left their mark on the world. Art lovers will be pleased by the fact that Holland has the highest density of art museums in the world. Many of them have meeting and event facilities. The Van Gogh Museum and Rembrandt House Museum are must-see attractions.

Other popular art museums to explore include Kröller-Müller Museum, a museum with a 25 hectare sculpture garden and Van Gogh masterpieces, Rijksmuseum, with works dating back to the Middle Ages, and the Sonnenborgh Museum & Observatory in Utrecht.

Hands-on painting and drawing workshops for beginners can be arranged at Vondelpark Atelier, Mauritshuis, which showcases Dutch and Flemish art, and Atelier Molenpand in Amsterdam.

  • Hotels for Art Lovers: Hotel Van Gogh in Amsterdam is a great place for groups to stay if they have an interest in exploring the Van Gogh museum. At art'otel Amsterdam all rooms have art by Atelier Van Lieshout. Artemis Amsterdam showcases Dutch design and art in its public spaces and 256 guest rooms. There is a Design an Art Expo on site and the theme changes every few months.
  1. Relax or Sail on Canals and Waterways

The Dutch have had a seafaring tradition that dates many centuries back. As 20% of Holland is below sea level and 50% of the land is under a metre above sea level, there are many canals, rivers, and waterways to explore. River cruises, sailing, and houseboats are just a few options.

A number of sailing events take place in August including the Westland Floating Parade, Sneekweek, a large sailing event in Sneek, and Skûtsjesilen Sailing Championships, also in Sneek.

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In early September, the RSM MBA Regatta takes place in Medemblik. While groups are there, they can explore Kasteel Radboud.

Maritime Museum Rotterdam has interactive exhibits related to sailing.

  • Canal Hotels: Hotels located on canals include Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam, housed in what was a 17th century palace, Hotel Pulitzer, overlooking 2 canals,  717 Hotel Amsterdam, and The Dylan Amsterdam in a building dating back to the 17th century.
  1. Cycle Your Way Through Holland

Amsterdam has been regarded as the “cycling capital of the world” for decades. With its intricate network of bike paths, cycling is a unique way to explore a destination. There are a variety of routes offering opportunities to explore historical architecture, canals, lakes and wetlands, and historic villages.

A number of themed bike tours are available including a Van Gogh tour, tour of old Dutch cities, and Windmills and Pastures.

Bike and barge tours combine the best of land and water. Guided and self-guided tours are available in Amsterdam and many other locations including Utrecht, Rotterdam, and Groningen.

A cycling scavenger hunt or a bike rodeo would add a touch of fun for corporate groups. Groups can also take in cycling races in the summer including KOGA Slag om Norg and the  Arnhem-Veenendaal Classic in August.

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  1. Savour Dutch Culinary Experiences

Summer Dutch dishes that Mr Holland has recommended include bitter balls (bread encrusted meat ragout), raw herring with onions, and gouda cheese. The Dutch Cheese Museum in Alkmaar showcases the history of cheesemaking, artifacts, and paintings. Groups can witness cheese trading, a tradition that dates back several centuries, at cheese markets in Edam or Gouda.

  • Hotels Near Cheese Markets: L'Auberge Damhotel and Hotel De Fortuna in Edam, Hotel De Utrechtsche Dom and Hotel de Keizerskroon in Gouda

Foodfestival aan de Zaan is in early July. Early in August,  food trucks line up at NDSM Wharf for Amsterdam Kookt in August.

The Sloten Bier Festival takes place for the entire month of July. The National Beer Museum is also located in Alkmaar. Learn about beer making at the Heineken  Experience, an interactive beer museum.

The Origin Chocolate Event doesn’t take place until October but it’s worth a quick mention as it will delight chocoholics.

Groups can arrange interactive cooking classes in Holland at Kookstudio Amsterdam, Hotelschool in The Hague and Amsterdam, Delicio Kookstudio, Het Wijninstituut, Etenschap Cooking Studio, and Tuinkamer Kookstudio (re-opening soon).

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  1. Experience Holland’s Unique Meeting and Event Venues

For small meetings and events:

Meeting venues with event spaces that encourage team play include Swingbo Eventlab - Utrecht and The Playing Circle in Amsterdam.

Event venues on the beach include Sunrise Beach Club in Ekkersweijer, Nord Brabant,  SolBeach in Scheveningen, South Holland, and The Bing Beachclub in Hoek van holland, South Holland. Other outdoor event venues include Wantijpaviljoen in Dordrecht, Paviljoen Genneper Parken, a venue with extensive gardens in Eidenhove, Nord-Brabant, and DierenPark Amersfoort in Utrecht.

The Dutch have pioneered a number of unique meeting venue concepts.

  • Igluu: Igluu consists of flexible workstations and spaces that are perfect for interactive work in teams or small groups.
  • In-Soest: In Soest is located in what was once a sawmill in rural Soest near the historic Soestdijk. It has been transformed for small meetings. The function spaces are contemporary and, for inspiration, the venue offers views of the natural surroundings including meadows and the royal estate.
  • Seats2meet: Seats2meet is another flexible meeting space concept that originated in Holland. It has an interactive component that allows for free sharing of ideas and information. Creative Factory in Hengelo uses the Seats2meet concept.

For large meetings, conferences, and exhibitions:

  • World Forum Convention Centre: Located  in The Hague, this venue can accommodate 5,000 participants.
  • De Meervaart: With a capacity of 2,000, de Meervaart  provides flexible multi-functional space. There are 2 theatres, 10 meeting rooms, and 3 studios.
  • Amtrium: Located at the RAI Complex in Amsterdam, Amtrium offers stunning and flexible function space with a large atrium.
  • Tivoli Vredenburg: Tivoli Vredenburg in Utrecht is a new 300,000 sq. metre glass enclosed venue on the waterfront. It’s ideal for exhibitions and large parties.
  • Beurs van Berlage: Dating back to the 17th century, Beurs van Berlage in Amsterdam, the location of Holland’s first stock exchange, has 21 meeting rooms and 4000 sq. metres of function space for exhibitions.
  • Hulstkamp Gebouw: This event space in Rotterdam was originally a bread and butter factory. With a capacity of 1,000, it has 5 meeting rooms.
  1. Select a Hotel with a Dutch Flair

There are a number of Dutch hotels that feature traditional and modern architecture used in innovative ways. Here are some examples:

  • Inntel Hotels Amsterdam Zaandam with 70 stacked traditional Zaan houses
  • Villa Augustus in an old water tower in Dordretcht, South Holland
  • Hotel Not Hotel in Amsterdam with “out of the box” designer rooms
  • The extensive gardens of the 121 room Grand Hotel Karel V in Utrecht, which dates  back to the 16th century, make the property an ideal summer location.

In Holland groups can spend the night:

  • in a castle (e.g. Chateau St. Gerlach in  Maastricht, Kasteel Ophemert in Ophemert, Kasteel De Essenburgh Castle in Hierden, and Kasteel Huis Bergh in ’s-Heerenberg)
  • in a windmill at De Verrekijker in Wijchen, Gelderland
  • on the dunes at Sea Lodges Bloemendaal in North Holland
  • in a water villa at Watervilla de Roerdomp in Goengahuizen, Friesland
  • in a boutique hotel on the beach at the Vesper Hotel in Noordwijk
  • On a houseboat on one of the canals in Amsterdam
  • in a tipi at Rio Grande Luxury Teepees in Terschuur, Gelderland
  • in a gypsy wagon at Pipowagen Camping Puur Genieten in Someren-Heide, Noord-Brabant
  • by going glamping at Glamping in Otterlo in Gelderland

More Places to Stay in Holland

Major hotels for large groups include Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel, and  Grand Hotel Kurhaus in Scheveningen, North Holland.

With 579 guest rooms Maritim Hotel Amsterdam, which is slated to open in 2018, will be one of Holland’s largest conference hotels and its tallest hotel. The largest conference rooms will accommodate 1,300 - 4,750 participants. There will also be 17 small meeting rooms. Plans are also underway for the Nhow Amsterdam RAI with 650 guest rooms to open in 2018. It will have a TV studio on the top floor, art gallery, and sculpture garden. It will be located at the  Amsterdam RAI complex, one of Holland’s largest convention and exhibition spaces.

In Conclusion

There is much to make Holland an attractive destination in the summer months. Depending on their interests, groups can round out their itineraries with music festivals, art escapades, cycling, sailing, and culinary experiences. With unique event venues and places to stay, corporate groups will have many welcome surprises during their time in Holland.

Photo Credits:  NBTC Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions

about the author

Anne Thornley-Brown

Anne Thornley-Brown is the President of Executive Oasis International, a Toronto based management consulting firm specializing in team building and executive retreats.

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