2019 Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival looking to expand on success

Who says bluegrass isn’t popular in Europe?

Not the folks who run the Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival in The Netherlands. The annual free, downtown event drew 14,000 attendees in 2018, with music lovers from all over Europe making the trip. On offer were top acts from the US, the UK, Australia, and the various nations of Europe and, after last year, Rotterdam can claim to be the largest bluegrass festival on the continent.

Because of the generosity of multiple sponsors, including the US Embassy in The Netherlands, all events are open to the public at no charge. Concerts are held in a number of venues around the Pijnackerplein, or town square, in Rotterdam-Noord. The whole city gets into the spirit, welcoming visitors from near and far to enjoy the historic region’s architecture, food, and folk arts on display.

And, of course, the music. The festival organizers take a fairly relaxed view where the definition of bluegrass is concerned, but are bringing in the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys from east Tennessee this year. It doesn’t get more bluegrass than that! The Boys have built up a sizable following in western and central Europe after several tours in recent years. Also scheduled are shows from The Hackensaw Boys and The Pine Box Boys from the US, plus Great Britain’s Jaywalkers and Often Herd. You can see the complete lineup online.

As a special treat for 2019, an artisan cobbler in Rotterdam is even making a limited edition shoe designed especially for the festival, surely destined to be a collector’s item.

Festival organizers have successfully created a destination event with appeal across Europe, that also draws a good number of US and Canadian visitors for the 3-day celebration. Hotels sell out, as well as smaller B&B type accommodations in the area, and the restaurants and taverns are full to bursting. A boon to the city, and to bluegrass fans at the same time.

It also has become an anchor date for American artists to build a European tour around.

Well done, Rotterdam Bluegrass Festival. Long may you wave!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.