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Review: Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival

For fifty weeks of the year, the Noorderplantsoen park in the city center of Groningen is a peaceful place where our TopDutch talent come to hang out with friends, read a book or take a jog. But once a year, as summer closes, the park transforms into a festival village for 150,000 guests: the home to Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival.

Around the world

From global acclaim to TopDutch talent

Noorderzon draws in artistic talent from every corner of the Earth. The 11-day festival opened with the critically acclaimed show ‘SPACE” from Canadian director Josh Dolgin, where voice actors from a melting pot of different cultures and countries gave life to the love story between a puppet alien and bear.

The usually peaceful park was transformed into a festival for young and old. Photo: Knelis

As the festival went on, festival-goers experienced a variety of performances from around the world: the Chilean director Trinidad González shone a light on children from the bottom of society in her sad yet witty “Carnival”; the French circus ‘Le Galactik Ensemble’ wowed with an hour’s worth of intelligent slapstick; and the Italian choreographer Marco Chenevier drew in the audience, literally, with a dance performance broken up by a robotic voice challenging those who dare with a set of assignments.


Fun fact #1

Noorderzon is a part of the ‘Innofest’ innovation program, which allows start-ups and knowledge institutions to test the latest green and digital innovations by using the festival as a living lab. 

However, TopDutch talent was never far from sight. The festival has a special program “Made Up North”, which gave the stage to some of our brightest regional performance talents. For example, our home-grown visual artist Nina Wijnmaalen sold out all three performances of her show “Ich Brauche Liebe”, which gave a relatable performance about the trials and tribulations of young love and the complexities of human interaction.

Noorderzon was also home to some of the best musical talents. Photo: Knelis

Fun fact #2

The center of the festival is the ‘Dok’ stage, an unusual sight where performers hover above a beautiful body of water. The most hardcore blow up their dinghies for a closer view… although most prefer to chill on the grassy bank with a beer.

The famous 'Dok' stage. Photo: Knelis

More than a festival

Sustainability, society and solar energy

A TopDutch initiative to the core, Noorderzon sets itself goals to be more than just entertainment. Our culture of implementing green and digital solutions could be seen in the use of biodiesel and solar energy to power the festival; a good 600kg of coffee grounds were collected to be used in the agriculture industry; and a huge amount of plastic waste was prevented by the ‘Never Give Up On Your Cup’ initiative.


Fun fact #3

As an international festival, performances at Noorderzon could be viewed in a number of different languages. Dutch, English, German, Chinese, to name but a few… but also: Sign language! 

TopDutch citizens enjoying the vibe. Photo: Knelis

Here in the TopDutch region, we also put a lot of importance on work/life balance: even for those who have less. A great example of this could be seen in the ‘Give an Encore’ scheme, where visitors could opt to donate an extra ticket to an anonymous ‘friend’ who otherwise would not be able to visit.

Sad you missed Noorderzon? No worries, it’s on yearly during the last two weeks of August. And if you want to keep up to date with the best cultural events from the TopDutch region, keep an eye on the website, or sign up to our newsletter.

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