Quite a while ago, there were a number of Frisian pioneers. These people dreamed about enriching the land, and celebrating culture with no limits. A country where anything was possible, and everything was allowed- an iepen mienskip. These dreamers chanced their luck, and made plans to turn their dreams into a crazy reality. Leeuwarden-Fryslan became the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2018, but not by chance.
2010 - the planting of a seed
Jannewietske de Vries spoke concretely about Cultural Capital for the first time in the church in Bolsward, at the awards ceremony for the Frisian literature prize- the Gysbert Japicxprijs. The seed was thus planted, and soon grew into a province-wide dream, the realisation of which was only just beginning.
2012 - enthusiasm grows
The whispering turned into talking, which turned into shouting, and steps were taken. The Leeuwarden-Fryslan team started to work hard on a first bid book, which would set out the first concrete plans for Capital of Culture 2018. The Hague, Utrecht, Maastricht, and Eindhoven were also interested, and created their bid books first.
2012 - the bid book
The first bid book was well received- and required development. Both Maastricht and Eindhoven proved formidable competitors, and like them, the second bid book was made with the province in mind. More concrete ideas for 2018 were presented in this book, and it served as a contract with the citizens of Leeuwarden and Friesland, and the European Commission.
2013 - the result
On a warm midsummers day in 2013, hundreds of people crowded the Gouverneursplein in Leeuwarden. With hearts full of hope, they watched for news. In Amsterdam, the Leeuwarden delegation also waited, nervously, for news as to where would become the European Capital of Culture for 2018- Eindhoven, Maastricht, or Leeuwarden. Big competition, for a relatively small city, however the underdog won! If the delegation in Amsterdam had been listening hard enough, they might have heard the cheers from Leeuwarden.
2018 - the opening
On the 27th January 2018, the official opening of Leeuwarden- Fryslân 2018 took place. More than 40,000 people squeezed onto the three central Leeuwarder squares, and even the King and Queen were there to usher in the cultural year. In addition to the festive opening in the city, the province of Friesland was devoted to culture and meinskip throughout the weekend.
2018 - the ReOpening
A whole year, full of diverting events and projects. Every part of the agenda was fully planned, and everyone celebrated the culture. Have a look at this example from the main programme. But all good things must come to an end, including the year of Cultural Capital, and a celebration of all that had been done was needed. So, Leeuwarden-Fryslan 2018 organised the ReOpening- a three-week goodbye to the Cultural Capital year. The motto was ‘we’ve only just started’- and though we have passed on the baton, the feeling remains. Leeuwarden continues to be a cultural capital.