Maastricht - the cultural capital

Travel to Maastricht with Stena Line

travel to maastricht
Future European Capital of Culture

The ancient city of Maastricht, a centre of religious pilgrimage since the 3rd Century and home to one of the world's largest annual art fairs, is quietly building up taking up the crown of European Capital of Culture 2018.

Already stuffed to the gables of its beautiful old merchant houses with cultural events, galleries, boutiques and festivals, Maastricht is taking the role of culture more seriously than ever.

Ballet Dancer Holland
Dutch Dance Festival and MJAZZ

The first weekend of October sees the annual Dutch Dance Festival come to Maastricht with exuberant displays of every dance type imaginable while the city echoes to the sounds of jazz each November (7-8), when it hosts the annual MJAZZ Festival.

Dutch Wine
Dutch history…and wine!

If you can't visit during one of these festivals fear not - Maastricht abounds with historic forts, Gothic churches, castles, Golden Age buildings and even two basilicas. You can stroll around the ancient city ramparts, visit the centuries-old Caves of St Pieter adorned with ancient paintings and relics, and the 18th-century St Peter's Fort.

Further afield, there's the beautiful miniature principality of Thorn, once inhabited exclusively by an abbess and her convent of twenty noble ladies, and the lush vineyards surrounding Maastricht (yes, the Dutch really do make wine!).

The European Fine Art Fair

The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF), which takes over Maastricht each March, should be on the bucket list of any art buff, but the city is a fantastic - and arguably quieter - place to visit outside of the fair.

In addition to countless internationally-recognised galleries and design shops, there are plenty of quirky spots in which to find undiscovered artists, designers and sculptors in the Jekerkwartier, also called Maastricht's 'Latin Quarter'.

fairs and markets
Maastricht Markets

Maastricht is also a city of markets, with regular markets dedicated to plants, organic food, antiques and bric-a-brac. Most atmospheric of all, however, is the city's celebrated Christmas Market (30 November - 30 December).

Local artists are invited to embellish the city with lighting installations, bringing its ancient walls to life, and the Vrijthof square is crammed full of market stalls selling unique gifts, mulled wine and festive delicacies with an ice rink at its centre.