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
Since 2019, the festival has been working with associate artists. They show their own work and explore opportunities for in-depth programming and a long-lasting connection between the artists and the city. In addition to their work, the festival highlights themes significant to them, as well as artists related to them. Previous associate artists include Angélique Kidjo and Nicolas Stemann in 2022, Gisèle Vienne and Ryuichi Sakamoto in 2021, Bill T. Jones in 2020 and Faustin Linyekula and William Kentridge in 2019. The associate artist for the 76th edition of the Holland Festival in 2023 is singer, composer and visual artist ANOHNI.

Emily Ansenk, director of Holland Festival: '2023 will be the Holland Festival’s fifth year of collaborating with one or two associate artists on part of the festival programme. Each year, this collaboration brings interesting new themes and perspectives to the festival. We are having inspiring conversations with ANOHNI and are very much looking forward to bringing her work and the work of artists she admires to Amsterdam.'

More than taking the stage herself, ANOHNI sees her role as associate artist as an intermediary: 'I am excited to work with Holland Festival in 2023 because it allows me to put forward, not just as an artist but also with my curatorial input, questions central to my work: What is Really Happening? Can we imagine a change in our trajectory, utilizing more feminine, less patriarchal systems of governance? Can we as Europeans recognize that our legacies of global conquest, enslavement and resource extraction have driven the earth to a breaking point, and can we each find the humility within ourselves to ask for help? As an artist I have explored the emotional, psychological, and spiritual ramifications of our proximity to ecological collapse. I try to inhale the weight of the cataclysm that we are authoring. Embrace the discomfort. Let’s be brave and make space within our imaginations for the empirical global realities that we now face. Let's reach towards those among us who have knowledge of a more symbiotic relationship with the rest of the natural world, and ask for their guidance and leadership.'

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.