Party down Dutch-style during this weeklong celebration of NYC’s forebears

September 9, 2009 at 6:08 pm Leave a comment

As that “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” song goes, “New York was once New Amsterdam”; now, the Netherlands and New York honor that connection with a plethora of arts and culture offerings, many of which also celebrate Henry Hudson’s exploration of the river that bears his name. “It’s all about retracing the similarities between the Netherlands and New York City—the ways of tolerance, open-mindedness and entrepreneurship that we share,” says Marjan Inbar, a spokesperson for the NY400.

Check out five of our favorite events.

New Island Festival
Thursday 10–Sunday 13, September 17–20
Combining elements of the famed Oerol and De Parade festivals—two enormous annual celebrations of arts music and theater in the Netherlands—this fest brings more than 150 artists to Governors Island for performances, workshops and interactive projects. The location itself is as important as the participants: “The island is where New Amsterdam was first founded,” says Inbar. “Our focus automatically went there.” Look out for Dutch imports like Theo Botschuijver’s Waterwalk on the Hudson, which will find the artist trekking along the river inside a specially designed inflatable ball (this is the first Waterwalk ever to take place in the U.S.), and The Flatlands Connection, a real-time video project that lets New Yorkers interact live with citizens of Amersfoort (a city in Utrecht). Or just shake your hips at Dutch Dance DJ Event, taking place at the island’s new Water Taxi Beach. Governors Island (newislandfestival.com). For ferry times and schedules, visit govisland.com. Thu 4–11pm; Fri–Sun 11am–11pm. Prices and times vary.

Speed Dating with the Low Countries
Thursday 10, Friday 11
No love connections will actually be made during these events: Instead, you’ll get bite-size introductions to different aspects of Dutch culture, from performing arts to chocolate making. Among the offerings are musical performances by Sarah Bettens (former frontwoman of K’s Choice) and experimental musician Spinvis; readings by authors Joke van Leeuwen (who pens children’s books and poetry) and Russell Shorto; and a sweet demo from Flemish chocolatier Jan Rosseel, with samples served afterward (this program is offered on Thursday 10 only). FREE Columbia University, Roone Arledge Auditorium, 2920 Broadway at 115th St (taalunieversum.org/en). Thu 10 1–5pm.
• The Times Center, 242 W 41st St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (800-272-9593, timescenter.com). Fri 11 7:30–9:30pm.

Pioneers of Change Festival
Friday 11–Sunday 13, September 18–20
More than ten different Dutch and American artists, designers and architects contribute to this festival, curated by Renny Ramaker of Dutch design firm Droog. The projects include a large blanket being knitted with six-foot-long needles, and the fest will occupy 11 old officer’s houses in Nolan Park on Governors Island, each of which will be named after a different part of New York, with the region’s original Dutch spelling (Bowery becomes Bouwerij, and Flushing is Vlissingen). FREE Governors Island (pioneersofchange.com). Fri 10am–5pm; Sat, Sun 10am–6:15pm.

Bike NYC on a Dutch Bicycle
Through Saturday 12
Biking is one of the most popular forms of transportation in the Netherlands—according to the Amsterdam Tourism Board, half of all city traffic comprises bikes, while a recent report estimates that Amsterdam has more than 240 miles of protected, car-free bike lanes. Before you start griping about how NYC’s biking community could never be so lucky, keep in mind that, at least during NY400, you can emulate the cycling-obsessed city. Ride around town on a stylish bright orange Batavus bicycle: A rental station, operated by Bike and Roll, will be set up at New Amsterdam Village in lower Manhattan with a limited number of bikes available for cruising throughout the day. Inexperienced riders might want to stick to the city’s newly completed 4.9 miles of car-free bike paths; hit up nycbikemaps.com for maps of the lanes in each borough. FREE New Amsterdam Village at Bowling Green Park at Broadway and Whitehall St (ny400.org). Daily 11am–7pm.

New Amsterdam Village
Through Monday 14
Old structures meet new technology at this market-cum-education-center. Travel back to the 17th century and check out a picturesque, 5-foot-tall working windmill. Or stay in the present and tour a small model greenhouse, which showcases eco-friendly Dutch innovations, including a selection of micro vegetables (teeny veggies that pack a surprising flavor punch). Foodies can sample an array of native-to-the-Netherlands treats, including smoked Gouda cheese and poffertjes kraam (which are similar to silver-dollar pancakes). FREE Bowling Green Park outside the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, Broadway between Bowling Green and State St (ny400.org). Daily 11am–7pm.

 By Amy Plitt
Time Out NY

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