Haarlem Shuffle


The city centre is the scene of many cultural events
One of the oldest cities in Holland, Haarlem's rich heritage includes a glut of historical buildings and an impressive municipal art collection. Traditionally, the city has given priority to the preservation of this artistic and architectural heritage. The present-day range of city festivals and events also satisfies contemporary cultural tastes.

The first-ever museum in Holland, the Teyler, was built in Haarlem and still thrives to this day. It contains many fine works of art from the Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish painting. It also features modern works and exhibitions. Meanwhile, the municipal art collection can be viewed at the world-famous Frans Hals museum. These musea are located near the centre of town, not far from the main square, where you will find several more, including an annexe of the Frans Hals Museum ('de Hallen'), which specialises in modern art.

There are also enough cinemas, theatres and concert halls to cater for most tastes. The Concertgebouw and Stadschouwburg are the two main venues for shows and classical music. Organ music also has a special place in Haarlem's cultural life: the Great Church on the main square and the Catholic cathedral - both named for St Bavo - have renowned church organs which attract aficionados from all over the globe.

Haarlem became a rich town during the Golden Age in the 16th and 17th centuries and had great influence on the developing country; to this day, the accent of Dutch spoken in Haarlem is said to be the most 'correct'. The debate about who invented printing in Europe also includes the man whose statue can be seen on the main square today: Laurens Jansz Coster. Whatever the truth of the matter, the local daily newspaper was the first of its kind in Europe and is still published to this day.

Continuing the graphic traditions of Haarlem, there is also a biennial Festival of Comic Art. Many international cartoon and comic artists descend on the city and happy visitors get to meet their favourite cartoonists, with the 'intimate' contact being an essential part of the festival experience. There is also an annual Jazz Festival with small gigs held in the town centre bars and clubs. On Liberation Day each year, the Haarlemmerhout woods are the venue for a huge, all-day, free pop concert. Haarlem instigated this more than twenty years ago and the local tradition has now spread to all parts of Holland.

On the sporting front, Haarlem offers a variety of clubs for all kinds of amateur activities. Baseball is very popular and the town is regularly host to international amateur tournaments. There is also an annual cycling race for youngsters ('de Muggenronde'), sponsorship permitting. The local soccer team, FC Haarlem, hope to improve on their recent, dismal league record when they move from their dilapidated old ground to a new multi-sport stadium in the next couple of years.