EmbrACE Magazine

Rotterdam: Culture, Free of Charge


By Cassandra Langenskiöld - We often perceive culture, the arts in particular, to cost a small fortune every time we want to experience it. Most of us dread fishing for our wallets each time we pay for an entry ticket at a museum, only to be disappointed and, frankly, rather annoyed, that we spent our money on a few dreary paintings. Rotterdam, aside from being the home of Erasmus, is also an extremely lively city, culturally-speaking. During the months of June to September, multiple events and festivals take place in the heart of the city; and most, if not all, are completely free. Here is a small list of some of the highlights you can expect in the coming summer months, without feeling that tinge of regret.


Every Friday, the galleries on Witte de Withstraat open their doors for free from 18:00 to 21:00. That includes the Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art, CBK Rotterdam, MAMA, Tent, and WORM, all of which continuously offer some of the best exhibitions in Rotterdam. You can also take part in free guided tours during these hours. The WdW Centre also organises multiple events, free of charge, every month, including discussions with artists and journalists, workshops, and opening tours.

North Sea Jazz Festival

One of Rotterdam’s most famous events is the annual North Sea Jazz festival. The festival kicks off on the 13th of July, offering three whole days of jazz as well as blues, funk soul and a lot more. Among performances also include special guests and events, and performances by huge stars as well as students. But if the prices are a bit too steep for you, or if you want to experience the music before the festival even begins, the Rotterdam itself will play host to over 300 performances at over 100 different locations around the city, all to be enjoyed for free, during the two weeks leading up to the Festival.

Rotterdam Street Art

Rotterdam boasts itself to be the largest open-air museum in Europe, and while that may (or may not) be true, it’s a testament to the sheer number of sculptures and street art that you can find on the streets of the city. To name-drop some significant artists, you can see works by Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore, and August Rodin. Most of these you can find while casually strolling around town, but if you want a complete walking route you can visit the Rotterdam Tourist Information centre at Coolsingel for more information. There is also no shortage of street art; visit the area around the Luchtsingel bridge (the big yellow one) or down Witte de With. If you want to see some real hidden gems, this app has a complete street art route for you to feast your eyes upon.

Free Festivals

Rotterdam has a large selection of completely free outdoor festivals all throughout the summer months, including:

  • Endracht Festival: a one-day festival organised around the Endrachtsplein area on the 19th of July, featuring performances, local artists, and spoken word.
  • Rotterdam Unlimited: this is the ultimate summer carnival street parade taking place from the 24th to the 28th of July.
  • OVG Veerhavenconcert: the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra organises a free classical outdoor concert on a floating stage on the 25th and 26th of August.