From Carnival to the Romans

Discover Kerkrade's culture, past and present Watch video

Musical education and the quality of the associations, the rich cultural history and the specific cultural characteristics form a breeding ground for Kerkrade's multifaceted cultural life. All year round, you can enjoy the many large-scale and smaller events. The biggest highlights are the festivals such as the World Music Contest, Castle of Love, and the Orlando Festival. These festivals attract people from all over the Netherlands as well as from abroad and their character contributes to people's familiarity with Kerkrade. In addition, there are more than eighty statues and sculptures in Kerkrade's public spaces, enriching the city's cultural sphere.

Land van Rode (Land of Rode)

From 1100 to 1815, present-day Herzogenrath, Kerkrade, and the surrounding area were known as the ‘Land van Rode’ (Land of Rode) or ‘Land van 's-Hertogenrade’. In this Land van Rode, ‘Hertogenrode’ was the governing and administrative centre. The Count of Saffenberg ruled the area from Castle Rode. ‘Kloosterrode’ (Cloister Rode) was home to the monastery of the Land van Rode, now called Rolduc Abbey. ‘Kerkrode’ (Church Rode) was home to the parish church and was where most people lived. After Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo, the borders of European countries were redrawn in 1815. This was done arbitrarily. Rolduc Abbey ended up on Dutch soil and Castle Rode on Prussian soil. After seven centuries of unity, a boundary line was drawn straight through the Land van Rode. On the two sides of the border, Kerkrade and Herzogenrath grew to become two distinct cities. Today, they work together under the name ‘Eurode’.

Mining past

Kerkrade was the oldest mining city in the Netherlands. Coal had been mined here since the Middle Ages. Rolduc Abbey became the centre of coal mining. During the industrial revolution, the mining companies developed at a rapid pace throughout the mining region. The 1960s brought an end to coal mining. Almost all the mine buildings were demolished. Schacht Nulland - the Nulland mine shaft - in Kerkrade is one of just a few remnants of that era. This protected building is an air shaft, part of the former Domaniale mine - the oldest coal mine in the Netherlands. The World Music Contest (WMC), which is held in the city once every four years, is one of the traditions that arose from Kerkrade's mining past. The statue of a miner - ‘d’r Joep’ on the Markt (market square) and the miners’ colony Hopel symbolize this important part of Kerkrade's history.



Kerkrade has always been a city that celebrates in exuberant style during the ‘three crazy days’ of carnival. The carnival season starts on 11 November – the eleventh of the eleventh – and that's when everyone can start to get in the mood for the main event in spring, with many gatherings and other carnival-related activities in the city. During the three days of carnival itself, numerous colourful parades make their way through the various districts of Kerkrade. On Shrove Tuesday, the carnival season is brought to a close with the traditional ‘KloneTrekke’ (Clown Gathering). All kinds of clowns come to Kerkrade from all around and make their way to the Markt (market square) where they bring the carnival season to a close together.

D'r Joep

The statue D'r Joep has stood on the Markt (market square) in Kerkrade since 1957 and is the national monument to miners. In 1939, Kerkrade local Jean Hermans – son of a miner killed in an accident – came up with the idea of setting up a monument to miners in the Limburg mining region. The Amsterdam-based artist Wim van Hoorn designed the bronze sculpture, which was unveiled on 16 June 1957 on the Markt.

Schacht Nulland - the Nulland mine shaft

Kerkrade's mining past is brought back to life in this historic air shaft, part of the former Domaniale mine – the oldest coal mine in the Netherlands. You can still see the original lift, machinery, objects, and photos from the mining period. Former miners tell their stories of their work underground with great zeal. The shaft is open to the public every Wednesday morning. Tours can be arranged by appointment.

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World Music Contest (WMC)

During this festival, held once every four years, more than 20,000 musicians from over 30 different countries compete for the honour of being the best in the world of music for wind instruments. The 18th edition of this international festival took place in July 2017, attracting around 350,000 visitors to Kerkrade. The Parkstad Limburg Stadium is the main venue to enjoy the spectacular marching competitions and shows. Brass bands, wind bands, and percussion groups from all over the world showcase their musical qualities. The other elements of the WMC such as the outdoor festival at the Markt (market square) in Kerkrade and the WMC Villages offer something for everyone!

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Hub Kerkrade

HuB Kerkrade unites the theatre, library and music and dance school. This cosy ‘livingroom of the town’ is brimming over with (cultural) activities for young and old!

Opening hours: Mon 1-6 pm, Tue-Wed-Fri 10 am-6 pm, Thu 10 am-8 pm, Sat 10 am-2 pm

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Parkstad Limburg Theaters Kerkrade

Theater Kerkrade reopened to the public on 23 October 2017 following large-scale renovation work. During the closure period, performances took place at Theater Heerlen and at the Rodahal.

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This events venue plays host to pop and classical concerts, carnival events, theatre productions, congresses, and company parties. The programme can be found on the website. Every four years, the hall is one of the venues for the World Music Contest.

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Orlando Festival

Chamber music enthusiasts can indulge themselves during the Orlando Festival, which takes place every summer at Rolduc Abbey. Renowned musicians give lessons and masterclasses to talented young amateur musicians from around the world during this festival. These lessons and masterclasses are open to the public and are well worth a visit! Lectures and an afternoon concert are given every day at Rolduc Abbey. There are more wonderful concerts to enjoy in the evenings at a variety of beautiful locations throughout South Limburg.

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Castle of Love

Castle of Love is an annual dance event in and around the gardens of Kasteel Erenstein (Castle Erenstein) in Kerkrade. The festival lasts two days and is internationally renowned. With the mediaeval castle as the backdrop, the festival location is without doubt one of the most beautiful in the Netherlands!

Historic Triangle

Together, Rolduc Abbey, the Baalsbruggermolen water mill, and Castle Rode form the Historic Triangle of this border region, today known as ‘Eurode’. These three exceptional buildings are linked together by the history of the Land van Rode (Land of Rode) as the area surrounding present-day Kerkrade and neighbouring Herzogenrath used to be known.

Roman past

Kerkrade boasts a rich Roman past. The location close to the important Roman trade road Via Belgica, extending from Cologne in Germany to Boulogne-sur-Mer in France, and amid fertile soil and brooks led to various farmers setting here and providing the Roman legions with food.

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