The largest citizens initiative of the Netherlands is the Spoorpark in Tilburg (and it’s awesome)

The citizens of Tilburg got together and, with some help from the municipality, transformed a barren piece of land next to the railroad tracks, into a pristine and grand park called the Spoorpark. It’s the latest addition to Tilburg, which has been pushing hard to improve itself in the last years.

The Spoorpark opened last year, so it’s all brand new. It’s been a massive undertaking which took more than a couple of years and it’s safe to say that it’s more than just your regular run-of-the-mill park.

Spoilers: this isn’t your average park Image: tickettotilburg.com

The park provides tons of opportunities for sports of all kinds (there’s an urban sports park present!). You can enjoy drinks and fancy food at the T-huis and even camp in the park at the “citycamping.”

The innovation involved in the creation of the Spoorpark is undeniable, but what really sets it apart is how it all came together.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: With the current pandemic, Spoorpark is running at a limited capacity and some activities may be unavailable. Make sure to check in on their website.
A place for people of all ages. Image: tickettotilburg.com

*Little heads up! If you’re looking for more info on the Spoorpark and its activities (or things to do in Tilburg in general, you might want to hit up the excellent Ticket to Tilburg site)

How the Spoorpark in Tilburg was built

The park is located on what used to be the railroad yards of Tilburg, and if you think that would be a sad sight, then you’re not mistaken. But the railroad yard left and it became an even sadder sight, and because of the economic crisis in 2008 years ago, not much happened on this piece of land near the station.

A concept picture (Image: landschapsarchitecten HR)

But times change, economic outlooks were improving and how the government is running things was also changing, and thus the municipality of Tilburg asked its citizens to come up with some ideas in 2015. Co-creation and citizens initiatives are normal nowadays but they were still a bit vague in 2015. But props to Tilburg, because the citizens more than delivered in 2017.

Image: tickettotilburg.com

“The Central Park of Tilburg”

The citizens of Tilburg brainstormed, discussed, philosophised and worked together and ended up presenting a beautiful plan for a park in 2017, which with help from the municipality was actually realised in the summer of 2019.

Instant crowd pleaser with that heatwave. Image: tickettotilburg.com

It now has been dubbed the Central Park of Tilburg by some, and not only because it’s big and central. Just like it’s original counterpart overseas, there are tons of things going on, powered again by the community. Because of the involvement of the city’s citizens, it’s also a much more different park than say, the Museumpark in Rotterdam or the Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

spoorpark tilburg
There will be a new high-rise residential building in the park itself! Image: tickettotilburg.com

Another benefit of it being a citizen’s project was the fact that the park could also count on many volunteers. And, importantly for construction projects in the Netherlands, no formal complaints were filed against the Spoorpark when it was it being built (complaints and permits are the #1 reason why construction is sometimes so painstakingly slow in the Netherlands).

Image: tickettotilburg.com

What’s there to do at the Spoorpark in Tilburg?

All the activities and ideas at the Spoorpark are also by its citizens, and you can tell because no bureaucrat could have thought of these! So what’s happening at the Spoorpark?

(Before we get stuck in, you might wanna check out Ticket to Tilburg on other good stuff that’s there to do in the Spoorpark and Tilburg!)

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: With the current pandemic, Spoorpark is running at a limited capacity and some activities may be unavailable. Make sure to check in on their website.

Go city camping

My favourite thing in the Spoorpark! You can set up your tent in the city of Tilburg! Pretty cool right? You’re still surrounded by nature but you’re also in a city. Perfect stuff as well when you’re aiming to attend one of the many festivals and events in Tilburg!

Climb a 36 meter-high viewing tower

Good views of the whole park and more — not something you’ll see in a regular Dutch park.

You can see the tower in this concept picture, but it looks like it will be taller than this! Image: tickettotilburg.com

The Outdoor Urban Sports Park

BMX, Skating and extreme stepping (that’s a thing now!) — sports are an important part of the Spoorpark. The park offers some good stuff to watch too.

Image: tickettotilburg.nl

Living and running water

This is pretty unique because there will be an actual man-made creek running through the park. Bordering on art, the project is called “living water”  and it’s looking good:

Image: tickettotilburg.com

7 Beach volleyball courts… and more

A whopping 7 beach volleyball fields are present, perfect for the summer of 2019! Basically, any beach sport is possible in the Spoorpark.

Nowhere near the end of what there’s to do in the Spoorpark. You can enjoy drinks and food at T-huis, a scouting club and, of course, enjoy all the nature and architecture — art also isn’t forgotten:

On the left you can spot ‘De Rits’ by Marieke Vromans. It’s a ‘zipper’ and symbolizes how the people and the city worked together on the park and how the city is getting ‘unzipped’ Image: tickettotilburg.com

And since it’s by the people, it won’t be long before something changes and there will be a new citizen’s initiative in the park!

Image: tickettotilburg.com

What else can you do on a trip to Tilburg?

Want to turn a visit to the Spoorpark into a proper day trip to Tilburg? Good idea, there’s plenty to do there. How about some culture? There are some great museums in Tilburg and plenty of other cultural hotspots. Tilburg has also somehow nearly perfected the art and process of refurbishing old buildings as you can see in this vlog by Levi Hildebrand when we visited Tilburg:

Then there’s the LocHal for example, a state-of-the-art library which used to be a giant hall to repair locomotives. It is an architecture marvel and is a great place to study and chill.

Fancy something else? Now might be the time to check out the nature of Tilburg. Need even more plans for the future? Have a look at the ticket to Tilburg website!

Have you checked out the Spoorpark in Tilburg? Do you know any other inspiring citizens initiatives in the Netherlands? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

And if you are totally new to Tilburg, check out our video!

Feature Image: TicketToTilburg.com
Editor’s Note: this article was originally published July 5th 2019, but was fully updated December 2020 for your reading pleasure. 

Abuzer van Leeuwen 🇳🇱http://www.abuzervanleeuwen.nl
Founded DutchReview. Rotterdammer living in Leiden. Politics, innovation and epic food-reviews are his thing. Interested in doing anything with DutchReview? Contact him at abuzer[at]dutchreview.com

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