Living in Groningen city, it’s easy to spend all you time within its limits. But why not venture into the countryside? Just beyond the city a beautiful landscape awaits with its endless views only broken up by the spires of ancient churches.

This is the setting of festival Terug naar het begin (“back to the beginning”). In the medieval town of Appingedam and the small villages surrounding it, every church is the location of a musical or theater performance. Varied artists, from local singer-songwriters to internationally known classical musicians and promising performers bring visitors together within the confines of the brick church walls.

International guided tour: Explore Groningen with City Central
Curious but afraid the language might be a barrier? Not to worry: for several of the performances, language is not a problem (indicated in the programme by a LANGUAGE NO PROBLEM-sign). On top of this, on Saturday we offer a guided English-language tour together with City Central to get the most out of the experience. Our guide, Joost Nussy, takes you by bicycle to see several performances, scenic views and the prominent features of Appingedam and the old Groningen villages. He brings together the complex history of the region with its characteristic landscape of fields, dykes, waters and ‘wierden’. We interviewed Joost Nussy – read what he told us here.

With a Guided tour by bike ticket, you get:

  • a guided tour
  • several festival performances
  • coffee or tea
  • the experience of Groningen Province
  • a wonderful day out

Transport to and from Appingedam not included. Read more about this package deal here.

Take your own bike or rent one in our webshop. City Central is happy to be of assistence! Visit them at Akerkhof 2a, Groningen or take a look at the website:

Practise your Dutch and Gronings: a festival glossary

Wierde – a mount, usually not more than a few metres high, in the middle of a Groningen village. Churches are often built on the top, with the houses grouped around it. People used to take shelter in the church (or other buildings on a wierde) when a flood threatened the village. The typical landscape of fields with wierden is called wierdenlandschap.

Maar – The Dutch have a complicated relationship with water, which means the Dutch language has dozens of words related to it. This one is typically Gronings: an artificial or natural water that has flowed through the lands for centuries. Maren are smaller than a river, but too broad to jump over without getting wet. A diep, on the other hand, like our Damsterdiep, is much wider and deep enough to be suitable for commercial shipping.

Ommelanden – historically, the part of Groningen province that wasn’t owned by the city (Stad). The name is first mentioned in a document from 1386.

Borg – a typical Groningen manor. They originally served as the strongholds of noble families, but gradually developed into elegant houses from the fifteenth century onward.

Goud – this means ‘gold’ in Dutch, but ‘good’ in Gronings.

Proeftuin – food garden. During the festival ‘Terug Naar het Begin’ you’ll find food trucks, a bar and
lots of music in the ‘proeftuin’ just behind the great Nicolaï Church of Appingedam.

Lutje – ‘little’ in Gronings.

Polder – Another word to do with water: this one signifies an enclosed piece of land in which the level of ground water is controlled by a combination of dykes and draining. Vast parts of Groningen and the Netherlands in general used to be either sea or marshland before they were drained and put to use as farmland.

Herenboerderijen – these stately homes were once owned by the richest people in Groningen. The wealthy farmers beautified their houses and created luxurious gardens.

Moi – ‘hello’ in Gronings. Like everything else in this local language, it’s short and to the point.

Damster – ‘from Appingedam’. Inhabitants of Appingedam are called Damsters and the word is also found in Damsterdiep, the name of the river that flows through the centre of the city.

Hangende keukens – in the city centre of Appingedam, you can admire many medieval buildings. One
of the most famous sights of the city are the three hanging kitchens above the river ‘Damsterdiep’.

Hoogholtje – a type of pedestrian bridge that is mostly found in Groningen. You’ll notice you have to almost climb over them, because they have to be high enough for small boats to be able to pass underneath.

Rijp / riep – ‘dyke’ in Gronings. The word can be found in geographical names like Zeerijp, one of the festival villages. Although nowadays the sea (zee) is nowhere near Zeerijp, it was in the past. The dyke is all that remains of the old coastline.

Aardbevingen – earthquakes. Groningen has been suffering man-induced earthquakes for many years now, caused by the extraction of gas from the ground. You may have noticed houses and farms with cracks in the walls or scaffolding holding up the ceiling. The government has recently promised to put a stop to the drilling but if and how the damage to local homes, businesses and monuments will be compensated remains unclear.