Rotterdam Celebrates the City!

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In 2016, Rotterdam Festivals coordinated the large-scale event Rotterdam Celebrates the City to mark 75 years of post-war reconstruction. When you see the hustle and bustle of the modern port city and its modern architecture now, it is difficult to imagine that the city centre of Rotterdam was destroyed during the Second World War.


The city of Rotterdam has received international acclaim thanks to new buildings including Markthal, De Rotterdam and Rotterdam Central Railway Station. Against the backdrop of these architectural icons, Rotterdam Celebrates the City focused on the people of Rotterdam. After all, it’s the citizens of Rotterdam who have made this city so lively and colourful. By letting the people of Rotterdam tell their own stories, we looked at the city that we have been building. And we also dreamed about the Rotterdam of the future. The team of Rotterdam Festivals selected more than 75 projects from the 300 creative ideas and great proposals submitted by cultural institutions and private individuals.


The book Rotterdam Celebrates the City with more than 75 stories of well-known and less well-known citizens of Rotterdam, films, exhibitions, dance and theater performances, an illuminated city expo and walking tours including art. The Erasmus Bridge celebrated its 20th anniversary, so it was decorated by the visual artists Vollaers-Zwart for the occasion. In addition to pop-up stores, a Ferris wheel and babies projected on buildings, there were also television programmes. The major highlight was The Stairs (De Trap) that was built on the outside of the Groothandelsgebouw (Trade Centre) next to Rotterdam Central Railway Station. Designed by MVRDV architects, it had more than 180 steps.


With nearly 800,000 people taking part in more than 100 festive projects, Rotterdam Celebrates the City to mark 75 years of post-war reconstruction was a major success. The aim was to attract 270,000 visitors. As many as 368,611 visitors came to climb The Stairs (De Trap). The overall value of all the media publications represented an amount of more than EUR 5.7 million. As many as 88% of the participants who took part in the audience survey rated the large-scale event with a 7 out of 10 or higher.


Johan Moerman, Director of Rotterdam Festivals at the time: “We are extremely proud of the organizational skills and the effort of dozens of cultural institutions, programme makers and entrepreneurs in the city of Rotterdam – together we managed to organise this successful, large-scale event which lasted for several months. The response from the citizens of Rotterdam and the visitors were heartwarming, and the support for this large-scale event was huge. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to Rotterdam Celebrates the City. It is wonderful to work in Rotterdam – a city that is never quite finished!”

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Please read the report written after the large-scale event (in Dutch):

Rotterdam Celebrates the City