TopDutch events guide February 2024

Get out your diaries, it’s time to explore the best of TopDutch’s cultural, sporting and networking events. Whether you’re a creative or scientific type; whether you’re looking to learn something new or stimulate your senses - there’s something for everyone in the TopDutch region.

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Culture and sports

For the urban adventurers

LUNA light art festival 2024

February in the top of the Netherlands usually means long, chilly evenings. But even in the dark you can still find beauty in our cityscapes. LUNA festival brings incredible light and media instillations from artists around the world to the TopDutch city of Leeuwarden.

The 2024 edition brings programs under the overarching theme ‘Moving Heads’. The LUNA Nights program encourages people to literally move their heads as they discover light artworks by 15 Dutch and international creators, scattered in locations across the city. Running February 1, 2, 3 from sunset to 11pm, visitors can determine their own route, use the app, or book a guided tour in English or Dutch.

With the LUNA Currents side program the goal is to move heads so we can face each other and look in another direction. As well as parties, networking events and workshop opportunities, the Currents program include three ‘theme nights’ that seek to bring depth to the ‘Moving Heads’ theme with guest speakers, panels, presentations and discussions.

And if you still want more, discover the TopDutch art talent of the future with the LUNA Young Masters exhibition. From January 26 – February 11 in the Stationskwartier, you’ll find a lively mix of experimental, playful, socially and ecologically engaged light and media artworks from 14 up-and-coming artists.

Where? Locations across Leeuwarden. When? LUNA Nights: 1st – 3rd of February, sunset – 11pm. Side program runs from the 26th of January through the 11th of February, schedule available here.

For the storytellers

Het Grote Gebeuren Literature Festival

Forum Groningen Photo: Stella Dekker

Do you love to get lost in a story? Whether you’re Dutch or English-speaking, NoordWoord’s literary festival ‘Het Grote Gebeuren’ has a program so filled with stories, fascinating conversations, encounters, theater, music and dance, you’re guaranteed to find something to stimulate your inner critic.

In the Dutch program you can explore sessions around the theme ‘Fact, fable, fiction’. Reflect on conversations on ‘the comeback of the graphic novel’, rediscover Groningen’s 19th Century oral storytelling tradition with a performance of our historic (and scary!) fairytales, or settle into one of the cozy listening sessions and let one of the festival’s participating authors transport you into an unknown world as they read a fragment of their book.

In the English/ language-no-problem program, you can get a chance to look into the mind of some of the most exciting authors of our time, through a series of author interviews. One of South Africa’s most important poets, Ronelda S. Kamfer, explores topics such as violence, complex family relationships and daily life in South Africa in her writing. She will read some of her poetry – in Cape Afrikaans with Dutch and English translations on the screen – followed by an interview about her life and work.

Sci-Fi fans mustn’t miss the conversation with acclaimed ‘Children of Time’ author Adrian Tchaikovsky, where he aims to bring you into his future universe. And European Book Prize winner Robert Menasse will discuss satire and harsh realities in an interview about his German-language novels ‘The Capital’ and  ‘The Expansion’.

Finally, in the dance performance ‘Peach Season’ - choreographed by Gaja Caruso - two dancers, two poets and a composer focus on telling the story of falling in love. Using techniques inspired by ASMR therapy, the multidisciplinary performance creates a physical, visual and auditory representation of a love relationship.

Where? The Forum, Groningen. When? 10th of February, 19:00 – 00:00.

For the football fans

UEFA Women’s Nations League: Finals or 3rd Place Match

The Abe Lenstra Stadium

The Orange Lionesses are gearing up for their final match of the 2023/4 Women’s Nations League, taking place in the TopDutch region this month. After facing off against Spain in the semis, Team Netherlands will head to Abe Lenstra Stadium in Heerenveen on the 28th, for either the finals or the 3rd place match.

Olympic dreams may be being played for. Coming up against either France or Germany, its sure to be a formidable opponent. If Oranje have secured a victory over Spain, the ladies will have bagged their ticket to this summer’s Olympics and will be competing for the win of the league. As France have already qualified, in the event the Netherlands has lost to Spain and are up against Germany for 3rd place, they’ll also be competing for the last Olympic ticket. Regardless of the fixture, its guaranteed to be a nail-biting event in the TopDutch region.

Where? Abe Lenstra Stadium, Heerenveen. When? 28th of February, kick-off 20:45.

Learn and connect

For the digital leaders

Navigating the EU AI Act: Innovation, Regulation, and the Future of the Digital Society

House of Connections. Photo: ©UG, photographer: Merel Weijer

What should drive innovation in our society: technological opportunity or a framework of principles to protect fundamental rights? Experts and stakeholders from the TopDutch region are heading to the University of Groningen’s new House of Connections on the 6th of February with the aim of stimulating an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary exchange on innovation, regulation and the future of the digital society, specifically in relation to the upcoming EU AI Act.

The program is designed to address the multifaceted nature of AI regulation and its implications on innovation and societal rights, featuring three rounds of discussions led by distinguished experts from academia, business, and regulatory bodies. The first round scrutinizes the regulatory approach of the EU AI Act, questioning its efficacy in balancing human rights protection with technological standardization. Subsequent sessions will delve into the regulation of AI applications, such as facial recognition and generative AI; and tackle pressing issues of liability and risk associated with AI failures.

This afternoon of discussion is also a great opportunity to meet some of the leading digital thought leaders and changemakers from the TopDutch region. The event is organised as a collaboration between the Security, Technology & e-Privacy Research Group of the Faculty of Law, the Department of Governance and Innovation at Campus Fryslân, the Jantina Tammes School of Digital Society, Technology and AI, the SSiGNAll: Surveillance Studies in Groningen Network for All, the AI Hub Noord Nederland, Samenwerking Noord and the Decentralized Student Association (DSLA).

This event is not merely an academic exercise but a call to action for all stakeholders in the digital society. Whether you are from business, civil society, government, or academia, your voice is crucial in shaping the trajectory of AI regulation and innovation – make sure you register now!

Where? House of Connections, Groningen. When? 6th of February, 12:30 – 18:00.

For the future scientists

Professor S: A ‘Ted Talk’ for children about the brain

Have you got a little one (between 6 and 12 years old) who loves to both laugh and learn? The play ‘Professor S.’ takes on their questions about how the brain works, in a realistic, magical, musical and humorous way.

Based on the Professor S. children books by real-life professor Erik Scherder, writer Fred Diks, and illustrator Mariella van de Beek, the play’s main character is Simie, the assistant of the great Professor S. Simie has arrived at the Theater Hofpoort in Coevorden, ready to do a ‘Ted Talk’ style lecture with his model brain.

He talks about nerves and connections, moving, eating and forgetting things. But wait… where had he left off? His talk goes haywire when he keeps getting interrupted by Grandma’s phone calls. And then Grandma gets lost too! This performance makes their ideas about how our brain works fun and accessible to children.

Where? Theater Hofpoort, Cultuurhuis, Coevorden. When? 25th of February, 14:00.