Events in Leiden

There is plenty to do in Leiden throughout the whole year. You will find below a small selection of some of the annual events.

Night of Arts & Science
During the Night of Arts & Science on Saturday 20 September 2014, the historic city centre of Leiden will be transformed into one big festival area. The Night showcases the richness of Dutch academia and arts. During the Night, visitors can enjoy exciting experiments, new discoveries, arts, ideas, extraordinary keynotes, music, dance, and so forth. 

Leiden Film Festival
Come to Leiden and enjoy six days of films and more films. You can choose from many new and memorable films, not only in the cinemas, but also in the museums and on culture and pop stages. Every year special premieres and arthouse films are brought to Leiden to celebrate this filmlovers’ festival.

Laken (Cloth) Festival
Both for Leiden citizens and for visitors, at the start of July the centre of Leiden is one big party. For four days you can enjoy all the attractions of the Laken Festival; there’s the Crazy Boat procession, the cloth and bric-à-brac market, the dragon boat race and many live music performances!

Rapenburg Concert
During the last weekend of August, the Rapenburg is transformed into the cultural heart of Leiden and for three days, a whole range of different artforms can be seen and heard in and around this elegant city street. Every year an impressive stage is built in the middle of the Rapenburg where a varied programme of music, poetry, dance and visual arts is presented.

Open Monument Days
In the second week of September you have the chance to visit more than thirty historic monuments that are usually either closed to the public or where visits are limited. This special weekend also features activities such as concerts and children’s events.

The Relief of Leiden
Every year on 2 and 3 October the City of Keys shakes on its foundations. This is when Leiden commemorates the seige of the city during the Eighty Years War and its relief on 3 October 1574. The city is one gigantic party, when citizens and visitors can join in the traditional festivities. There’s  always a parade of marching bands, a costume pageant and a funfair. And not to mention the traditional handing out of herring and white bread to the citizens of Leiden.

Leiden might not be the largest city in terms of size, but it sure knows how to host a big party!

Leiden hosts festivals all year round. To name a few:

  • Leidse Jazzweek – with performances by famous national and international jazz and blues singers (January)
  • Scratch Muziekdagen – jamming sessions involving musicians who have joined efforts for that day for that sole purpose (February)
  • Leidse Draaiorgeldag – a one-day barrel organ festival (May)
  • Muziekmarathon Leiden – a city-wide music festival (June)
  • Lakenfeesten – including the well-known Peurbakkentocht (decked out vessels and people sail a specific route along the canals of Leiden) and the Dragon Boat Race (a canoe race with rowers and enthusiastic drum music) (July)
  • Culinair Festival Leiden – a food festival (July)
  • Werfpop – featuring local, national and international rock bands (July)
  • Straatmuzikantenconcours De Gouden Pet – street musician competition (July)
  • Leids Festival van het Levenslied – a Dutch torch song vocal competition (August)
  • Het Rapenburgconcert – a three-day multi-genre music festival (August)
  • Open Monumentendagen – during which various buildings on the list of national monuments and historic buildings in the city are open to the public (September)
  • Leidens Ontzet – celebration of the liberation of Leiden in 1574 (3 October)
  • Leids Film Festival – an international film festival (October)