Leeuwarden in the Netherlands and Valletta in Malta are the two new European Capitals of Culture. Two cities that have prepared with care a calendar full of first class events to satisfy the most demanding and curious tastes. Here we tell you the reasons why these two destinations should be noted in the trip agenda for 2018.

Leeuwarden, capital of Friesland

Two hours away from Amsterdam, Leeuwarden is always worthly visiting to discover a city where water is the main protagonist, for its splendid set of channels, lakes and coast. In fact, the best way to discover the beauty of Leeuwarden is by embarking on cruises that run its channels. From them, you can see with a different point of view the patrimonial jewels: the old Chancellery or Kanselarij, the old Blokhuispoort prison, the group of churches or the charismatic windmill of Froskepolemolen.

The canals and coast of Leeuwarden are a World Heritage Site

Leeuwarden, Open Community

In total, more than 60 events will take place during 2018. Some events inspired by the slogan “Open Community”, based on the local term Iepen Mienskip. This is a Friesian expression that means to leave behind differences and join forces for the community to defend itself. A spirit that in principle referred to fight against floods, but that applies in general to the union to achieve a common goal. Now that goal is for this European Capital of Culture status to be a success.

Graphic image of Leeuwarden, European Capital of Culture

Cultural events for 2018

The truth is that the acts began last year, with an exhibition about Mata Hari, famous spy of the First World War. It was the starting event for Leeuwarden’s programming. That exhibition will be open until next April. After this, we can see other exhibitions as the one by the graphic artist MC Escher. The decoration project by internationally renowned artists from 11 historical sources of the Friesland region is also highligh anticipated. Jaume Plensa participates in it.

Proposal by Jaume Plensa for the 11 Fountains project

Other acts that can be highlighted in the intense program are the presence of the street theater of the Royal de Luxe Company or the show De Stormruiter starring more than 100 Friesian horses. On the nearby coast of the Wadden Sea, dozens of artists, landscape painters, biologists and environmental activists will meet to perform around 50 artistic performances in which the population feels identified with their values ​​and the environment that surrounds them.

One of the most anticipated shows is The Giant Marionettes by the Royal de Luxe

The capital of Malta: Valletta

The current appearance of Valletta is due to its splendid past as the headquarters of the Military Order of the Knights of Malta. Some monks warriors who shaped the city and built the great palaces, forts and churches that can be visited today in the Maltese capital. The Fort of San Elmo, the Saint John’s Co-Cathedral with the works of Caravaggio, Lascaris Battery, the Grandmaster’s Palace or the forts along the Great Port; all those monumental and tourist attractions are the legacy of the Military Order on the island.

Monumental aspect of Valletta

Architecture and sea in Valletta

The leitmotif of Malta to celebrate its capital of culture status is that it will be the “European Year of Cultural Heritage”. A motto that will inspire up to 400 events spread throughout the island, and all promoted with a budget eight times lower than that of its Dutch sister. However, it has been squeezed to the last euro to develop some attractive acts featuring the beautiful historical architecture of the capital which would not be the same without the proximity to the sea that characterizes it.

Promotion of Valletta’s European Capital of Culture 2018 status

A long-term programming

The calendar started to run in January, and it was the company of La Fura del Baus those who created a memorable show to inaugurate the capital of culture status. It must be said that, in Valletta, 2018 has not been considered as an end, but as another stage in its development and have sought to create spaces and events worthy of continuing in later years.

Inaugural show designed by La Fura dels Baus

Hence, its commitment to the Malta Film Festival, the Mediterranean Literature and the Altofest Malta edition, twinned with the Naples Fair. Equally within the capital of culture status, Valleta Pageant of the Seas, a nautical show that will be enjoyed in the Great Port, will be developed. And in the same way some infrastructures created or renovated in 2018 will continue to star in the cultural programming of the island beyond this year, as is the case of the new MUZA museum or The Valleta Desing Cluster. Not to mention the restoration of Strait Street, a narrow and dynamic street transformed into an artistic space.

Valleta Pageant of the Seas evokes the bloody historical battles that took place in the Great Port of Malta

From Horse Magazine we recommend you take into account these two cities to make a break in the upcoming months. The ideal thing is to travel both to Leeuwarden and Valletta, but it may not be possible and you may have to choose. If so, follow your instinct and opt for the more Nordic and demure spirit of the Dutch city or for the more festive and Mediterranean atmosphere of the Maltese capital. In the two cities the most interesting and unique exhibitions, theater, shows, perfomances or concerts are waiting for you.