2012 marks the 15th Anniversary of the famous ‘Grachten Festival – A celebration of canals and classical music’
Is there anything more iconic in Amsterdam than its canals? If it weren’t for these immense feats of engineering, conducted over hundreds of years by thousands of workers, over half of Amsterdam would be under water. Indeed, in this city, it is the canals that we have to thank for having dry feet. To the west of the old city-centre, the Canal-Belt, which has World Heritage status, is Amsterdam’s piece de resistance, especially in summer when the sun decides to shine.
So let it shine and let the celebrations begin for this year’s rendition of the famous Grachtenfestival, the annual event which brings the full glory of the canals (Grachten) to light. This is an event that combines the best of classical music, boats and good vibes and which, with the help of a bit of sunshine, truly demonstrates the kind of local experience that only Amsterdam can provide.
This festival first kicked off 15 years ago, as a three day event. From the beginning the intention was to provide a platform for young classical musicians, and to establish a seminal role in the cultural landscape of Amsterdam. Past instalments have included a range of diverse activities, from opera masterclasses held by world famous singers to sing-a-longs designed to engage the whole public. Of course, high-quality classical performances are the norm. The Kindergrachtenfestival, a special edition for children, also serves to capture the imagination of the young, engaging them in the heritage and depth of classical music. All activities and performances are held in culturally/historically important locations around the city, such as the Hermitage museum and the Artis Zoo. Most are, of course, held on or next to the canals all around the city, especially in the Canal-belt.
Such has been the success of the Grachtenfestival that it is now a ten day event, with over 200 activities and performances around the city. This generally means a whole lot of music on the canals, and a generally excellent atmosphere! This year’s instalment showcases performers such as The Amsterdam Saxophone Orchestra and the renowned Lendvai String Trio, as well as the Mozart & de Pont Infidelity Trilogy – an epic piece that combines the works of these two megaliths of European opera. Countless and free open-air concerts will adorn the city streets and canals, ensuring that you won’t miss this classically Amsterdam event, even if you’re just wandering around town