Sounds of the City – Rotterdam

10th November 2019

World - ibis team

Sounds of the City – Rotterdam
« Our guide to the exciting sounds of Europe’s largest port city »

Famous for its wartime spy networks, Rotterdam also holds its fair share of musical secrets. Amid the modern architecture and web of canals, the city has a youthful, pulsing energy. From world-famous underground clubs to colourful carnival fun, this unique Dutch metropolis has a sound for everyone.


Although mainly known as the home of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, De Doelen is also a cherished venue for jazz, world and contemporary sounds. The large concert space located in the Cool District was originally built in 1934 but destroyed during the war, before it was magnificently rebuilt in 1966. It’s since hosted many of the biggest names in music, with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington and Nirvana gracing the stage. With world class acoustics and a diverse, exciting program of events, shows at De Doelen are some of the hottest tickets in town.


Rotterdam is also full of wonderful smaller venues, with opportunities to catch intimate live performances all across the city. Bird, located under the old Hofbogen, is great for a relaxed drink, or if the mood takes you, a wild night out! There are regular, superbly curated live music events, ranging from improvised jazz to poetry, funk, and dance music. Alternatively, head to Jazz Cafe Dizzy, which was established in the late 70s and hosts the best in local and international jazz. With a large garden and an ‘old school’ ambience, it’s the perfect taster of Rotterdam’s sublime nightlife.

Once night kicks in, Rotterdam comes alive

If this all sounds too sedate and you need a fix of late-night adrenaline then Rotterdam will not disappoint, for the industrial buildings and cavernous spaces make perfect locations for unforgettable parties. Maassilo is one of the largest clubs in the city with a total capacity of 5000, and the imposing Blade Runner-style building has a fantastic industrial aesthetic and is one of the coolest places to party in Europe. Expect to hear a wide range of techno and electronic music with superstar DJs such as Rebekah scheduled to play soon, and it’s a must-visit for any seasoned club-goer. For a smaller, more intimate party experience, head to the world famous Toffler on the northern side of Rotterdam’s Cool District, which regularly hosts forward-thinking DJs and is the first club to feature an adjustable, hydraulic wall, which changes the venue’s size one night to the next.


Rotterdam also packs a punch with its large-scale music events and is regularly awarded as one of the world’s best festival cities. Boothstock happens in Kralingse Bos, a wooded park with a beautiful lakeside setting; taking place in June, it’s the perfect summer festival with a focus on house, techno, and urban music. For more dance music in the sun, Toffler Festival takes place in Roel Langerakpark in May, and is curated by the club of the same name. Expect to hear the best cutting-edge electronic music in a fabulous open-air environment.

Holland’s answer to the Rio Carnival

In late July the city hosts the colorful and family-friendly party of the year. Rotterdam Summer Carnival is a street parade celebrating the city’s diverse life and culture, with more than 2500 dancers, 25 carnival groups and 30 floats bringing the spirit of Brazil to the streets of Rotterdam. It attracts over a million visitors each year and bursts with energy, and one of the highlights is the Drum Battle where the best percussion groups compete to be crowned kings and queens of the city. Due to its popularity, accommodation can be hard to come by, so plan your trip early to avoid disappointment as it’s a party not to be missed!


If you like to explore the record stores of a city, then Rotterdam will keep you digging for days, for it boasts some of the best vinyl emporiums in Holland. Music website Vinyl Factory named Clone in its Top 100 record stores in the world, and this local institution features the finest new and secondhand records from around the world, with a focus on independent and electronic sounds. Though its location has varied slightly during its 20+ years of operation, it’s remained a unique epicentre for independent electronic music, and the shop’s staff are refreshingly down to earth and passionate about helping customers discover lesser-known gems. Among the other essential stores in Rotterdam, the cool Demonfuzz Records is worth checking out and known for selling eclectic sounds across a mix of genres. With many of Rotterdam’s key record shops located in close proximity of each other, you can hop around with ease to find the latest and rarest records.

The exciting sounds of Rotterdam are hip and varied. With a rhythm and atmosphere for everyone, you’ll find incredible music all year round. Whether it’s dancing to the carnival drums, raving in an industrial warehouse or listening to stimulating, world-class jazz, it’s all there to be discovered!