Photo by Jelmer de Haas

This year, Utrecht intends to make a splash at the opening of the cultural season: on 15 and 16 September, the city will live and breathe music, theatre, art, film and literature. MAG Utrecht helps you find your way around.

Saturday 15 September

A sixty-metre long mega-catwalk marks the start of the Uitfeest, and the official opening of the new Jaarbeursplein. ‘What’s the city but the people?’, based on a project by British artist Jeremy Deller, is a dynamic self-portrait of the city: 150 Utrechters – from a top sportsman, an ice-cream maker and an informal carer to the local baker – will walk the catwalk accompanied by live music, photos and quotes made by/about themselves.

A lot of cultural institutions are opening their doors to the public. For example, you can visit most galleries and exhibition spaces with a guided tour organised by Art Utrecht. There’s lot to do outside as well: a youth brass orchestra will be playing pop and film music on Stadhuisbrug. And you can also watch a pop-up belly dance performance and a tango demonstration on this location. Do you feel like dancing yourself? Then head to Theaterhuis De Berenkuil for a salsa, lindy hop or street dance workshop.

You can also take a peek behind the scenes of numerous creative breeding grounds and hotspots dotted around the city. There’s art and music in Rotsoord, where music podium De Helling and the LE:EN restaurant have joined forces. At various hotspots in the Merwede area, hundreds of creative, inspirational entrepreneurs will show you exactly what they do. On the other side of town, you can visit the studios of artists in the Cartesius area, or go to Lou Oudenoord, a temporary hotspot. The RAUM public square in Leidsche Rijn is packed with art installations depicting the city of tomorrow, and while you’re there, take the kids to Castellum Hoge Woerd where they can have a turn on the merry-go-round or learn an acrobatic trick.

Sunday 16 September

Art-lovers can eat their heart out on the Neude, where eleven sea containers have been cleverly transformed by galleries and exhibition halls from Utrecht. Work by budding young talent from Utrecht is on display, including ‘Imagination Arch’, a gateway to the square designed for the occasion by Yasser Ballemans. If you prefer buying art, pop into the Art Manifestation on Maliebaan, where Utrecht-based artists will be selling their wares.

TivoliVredenburg is all about jazz. The Utrecht Young Jazz Society, a brand-new big-band comprising ‘young professionals’ from Utrecht, will make its debut, and De Raad van Toezicht, a twelve-strong ensemble with a double rhythm section, a wind section and a violin, makes an appearance with a repertoire of jazz and funk.

Between 12.00 and 18.00 in and around the Stadsschouwburg Utrecht, you’ll find all kinds of tasters for the forthcoming theatre and dance season. Outside, Utrecht dancers put on a rousing concert that cleverly unfurls into a dance performance, while inside, a battle in a cypher (freestyle dance in a group setting) is raging between the hip-hoppers from the Illusionary Rockaz Company and those from the Underdogz Crew.

It’s all about digital media in the Winkel van Sinkel. Fancy shutting yourself off from the world for a bit in Oneseconds’ virtual reality lab? Inspired by stories from Utrecht, they’ve created short but unique experiences to show the city you think you know in a different light. Or come and watch A Double Life, the new short animation film directed by Job, Joris & Marieke. Three years ago, one of their films (A Single Life) was nominated for an Oscar.

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