Excited for October? – the Halloween parties, the promise of comfort food and hot pumpkin spiced drinks – but short on cash? Here is 5 FREE things you can do this coming month in the Netherlands. 

#1 Join in the festivities at Leidens Ontzet

When?  2nd – 3rd October

During this festival, the streets of Leiden are full of merry Leideners – eating (the Dutch delights Hutspot and Hollandse Nieuwe Haring), drinking copious amounts of alcohol and celebrating this day of relief as they have been doing each year since 1886.

The public holiday dates back to 3rd October 1574, during the ‘Eighty Years’ War’ between the Spanish and the Dutch, when the Spaniards ceased their attack on the city. It’s a HUGE deal in Leiden: kids get the day off school and city services are closed.

Across the two days, Leiden will be full of markets, parades and fun fairs, culminating in an awesome firework show.

Free October festival in the Netherlands
Leiden as you’ve never seen it (Biccie / Wikipedia cc)

#2 Afrovibes Festival: don’t miss their free events!

When? 4 – 14 October

The theme of this year’s Afrovibes Festival is LAND. These performances will confront audiences with fierce visions and perspectives of African and Dutch artists – and some of them are completely free!

Free events include:

At the Compagnietheater in Amsterdam: Frazer Barry, South African singer and multi-instrumentalist, will be performing a musical tribute to the theatre production Krotoa on 5th October. Then Henry O’tawiah will explore his origins and roots in his show Boom Zonder Wortels on the 6th.

From the 4-6th, the EXPO Portraits of Land will be available at the Compagnietheater. This is an art exhibition presenting a variety of artists’ social, political and cultural relationships with their environment.


At the Institute of Social Studies in the Hague: Womb of Fire will take to the stage, a performance exploring the power of the female body in South Africa today (you can register via blok@iss.nl). 

At the Maaspodium in Rotterdam: The Kiffness – one of the most popular SA electronic acts – are playing on October 13th!


#3 Go to a free screening of everyone’s favourite film: The Room

When? 5th October

We’re still not sure why we keep watching the worst film ever made – maybe its the shared pleasure of mocking everything about it, or maybe we just love torturing ourselves.

Either way – get yourself down to The Red Carpet Lounge in Leiden if you want to have a laugh with your friends and throw some spoons (which will be kindly provided).

Afterwards, they’ll be spinning some records of the worst hits ever produced – because sometimes you need to remind yourself of the bad to appreciate the good.

#4 Check out free performances during Cello Biennale Amsterdam

When? 18 – 20th October

That’s right – more free music!

The Cello Biennale Amsterdam is a 10 day long international music festival, taking place at the Muziekgebouw (a concert hall on the IJ in Amsterdam-East) and the Bimhuis.

Whilst some events require tickets, a lot of this is free. The National Cello Competition, for example, or the Music for Galway: Discover Cellissimo, the show which promotes a new festival coming to Ireland.

You’ll also be able to see:

  • Talks and interviews (Preface by Saskia Törnqvist, Let’s Talk: The Power of Music)
  • Small concerts (from Students around the World to the many Comparisons performances)
  • Orchestras (like the youngens from Hello Cello)
  • Workshops (such as the mighty CELLOFEST and The Stage with Caecilia Thunnissen).

#5 Visit the world’s biggest club festival: Amsterdam Dance Event

When? 17 – 21st October

If you can’t afford the night-time festival events at ADE this year, why not simply experience the hype of the city?

By day, the electronic dance festival is mostly free. There are a bunch of in-store DJ showcases and music-related films, talks, exhibitions taking place in venues across Amsterdam.

Looking to make it big in the music industry?

Deep’n’Dance Records store are hosting a Meet and Greet with DOTS.Music, where you can connect with label owners and event organisers from around the world. Don’t forget to bring your demo!

Or still need to improve your techno kick and bassline?

Hotel TwentySeven are hosting a range of free ‘knowledge-sharing’ sessions, exploring Sound Design, Selection, Processing and Mixing, so you can get your tracks sounding as slick as possible.

These are just a couple of examples. There are tonnes of other free events at ADE that give you the chance to network with other artists and/or dance your life away. Take a closer look at the festival website here.

And there you have it: 5 glorious free events in the Netherlands to scribble into the calendar this October. It’s gonna be a fun one!



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