What we do

What we do

Holland Festival is the largest international performing arts festival of the Netherlands and one of the oldest festivals of Europe. The festival was established in 1947 and will celebrate its 75-year anniversary in 2022. It takes places every year, In June, in and around Amsterdam, at various locations, both indoors and outdoors, both large-scale and intimate, both online and offline.

Artistic renewal, innovation and experimentation are the core values of Holland Festival. The festival presents groundbreaking shows by creators from all over the world and new developments in the performing arts. These shows aren't available anywhere else in the Netherlands: from theatre, dance, music, musical theatre and opera to multidisciplinary forms, and crossovers with visual art, digital art, photography and film. Since the establishment of the festival in 1947, its guiding principles have been: artistic renewal, innovation and experimentation.. The festival thus manages to engage a large, new and inquisitive audience. In addition, it collaborates with many partners in and outside Amsterdam, organises talks, debates, masterclasses, exhibitions and presentations, meet-and-greets with the artists, tours of the front and backstage surroundings, online streaming - all providing in-depth, in-breadth and contextual food for thought, as well as entertainment (or partying/fun).

Artist-driven
Holland Festival is artist-driven. It places the creators centrally and presents performing arts to make you see, feel or experience other perspectives. Through the participation of many (inter)national artists, the festival takes you on an adventure, it surprises you and encourages you to think. The festival has worked with associate artists since 2019. They present their work and explore ways of giving the programme greater depth and of creating a sustainable connection between the artists and the city.

Associate artists
The associate artists for the 75th edition of Holland Festival, in 2022, are the French-Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo (1960) and the German theatre director Nicolas Stemann (1968). For the fourth year in a row, Holland Festival is cooperating with associate artists that are involved with the creation of part of the festival programme.

Emily Ansenk, director of Holland Festival: 'With Kidjo and Stemann, the festival has chosen two associates who work in very different disciplines, but both have broad, artistic and societal interests that exceed genre and geographical borders. This is expressed, among other things, in the many collaborations with a most diverse group of artists. With their current work and large network, they offer the festival valuable entries to deepen and broaden the programme. In close collaboration with them, possibilities are explored to present as innovative and relevant work as possible, during the next edition of the festival.

New and/or existing own work from both artists will have a central role in the festival programme. Kidjo illustrates her role as an associate artist: 'This assignment is very exciting. I have spent my entire career building bridges between different cultures, different musical styles and different generations; showing the depth and beauty of African songs. I feel that Holland Festival is the perfect place to propagate that work into different art forms and to offer an African perspective at a time when we discover how much our lives are interconnected.

Stemann on his role as an associate artist: 'I feel honoured and very happy about this amazing opportunity: presenting my work and being able to choose from productions by the makers that are connected with our theatre in Zürich is very valuable to me! I am also interested to see how far this collaboration will resonate with the important debates in the Netherlands, for example in the dialogue about a more fair climate policy. It is our duty as artists to think about how we can contribute to this pressing issue.'

Yearly cooperation
Since 2019, Holland Festival has cooperated with one or two associate artist(s) on a yearly basis. In addition to their work, the festival also highlights themes that are of specific importance to these artists, as well as to related artists. Former associated artists were Gisèle Vienne and Ryuichi Sakamoto, in 2021, Bill T. Jones, in 2020, and Faustin Linyekula and William Kentridge, in 2019. In addition to this programme with and about the associate artists, Holland Festival brings forth the work of other sensational and relevant artists.

Pandemic
The year 2021 was uniquely a year in which Holland Festival could show what it means to be artist-driven. In other words: artists were in the spotlight. It is the festival's duty to present their work to a large and diverse audience, to help them develop this work and, where possible, support them.

More than ever, this mission was essential in a year filled with uncertainties and ambiguities, prompted worldwide by the Covid pandemic and the accompanying regulations. Holland Festival offered hope to many artists in this hard time. In 2020, for the first time, the festival could not take place in physical form so that a digital version, Holland Festival 2.0-2.0, was speedily put together with the creators of the programme of that edition. The decision to organise a live, international performing arts festival in 2021, was therefore a fundamental one. After months of indoor confinement, a collective, physical art experience was needed for everyone more than ever. The importance of the international focus of Holland Festival during the composition of the programme was also larger than ever before; the world, which for practically everyone had been reduced to the living room and the computer screen, was enlarged by Holland Festival and was literally presented on stage in Amsterdam.

This became apparent when the festival could take place in 2021. It took place from 3 to 27 June, exactly at the time that society was emerging from the lockdown, and it was a huge emotional release for many. The festival received many positive reactions from the audience and the artists, who could return to a live stage after waiting for an eternity. The same was evident for the partners, the many freelancers, the on-call workers, employees, suppliers and the entire production chain that the festival is a part of.