The Best Things to Do in Tilburg
Tilburg was the centre of the textile industries in the Netherlands for several centuries (picture from inside the city's TextileMuseum) | © Ton 1959 / Flickr
North-Brabant’s second largest city, Tilburg, boasts an impressive number of famous attractions that will appeal to travellers of every stripe. Its main draws include the most prestigious textile museum in the country, a charming urban zoo and an annual funfair, whose size is almost unmatched in northern Europe.
Tilburg’s annual funfair takes place in the centre of the city every July. The event ranks among the largest of its kind in Europe and features around 250 attractions, including ferris wheels, rollercoasters and game booths. It is also one of the oldest surviving carnivals in the world and has existed for over four centuries. The funfair also hosts an LGBT party with live music called Roze Maandag (Pink Monday) every year that often attracts over 250,000 visitors.
Skate Park, Theatre
This innovative neighbourhood runs alongside Tilburg’s main train station and developed around several industrial buildings that were once owned by the Dutch railway network. Since the early 2010s many cultural organisations have established themselves in Spoorzone, creating a close-knit community of forward thinking and creative enterprises that share working spaces and ideas. There are many places of interests around the neighbourhood, including several cafés, an indoor skatepark, and an avant-garde theatre called de Bloemel.
This stunning arthouse theatre has screened films for over a century and is recognised as the oldest cinema in the Netherlands. Though the cinema currently houses three movie halls, it was originally built to accommodate an exclusive social club called Souvenir des Montagnards, who sold their headquarters in 1970s. The cinema has been modernised since then, but still features many elegant design elements that date back to the early 20th century. Its program leans towards independent cinema and always includes the latest and greatest arthouse releases.
Loonse en Drunense Duinen National Park
The stunning and sandy dune lands that run between Tilburg and Den Bosch are known as Loonse en Drunense Duinen, and have been protected as a national park since 2002 due to their outstanding natural beauty. The park is one of the last places in Europe where it is possible to witness natural sand drifts – a phenomenon that causes the area’s dunes to erode and move over time. As dozens of hiking and cycling paths trail throughout the park, it is perfect for outdoorsy day trips from Tilburg.
Zoo de Oliemeulen
Dierenpark de Oliemeulen cares for many strange, colourful and exotic critters from all over the globe. The park began as a reptile house, but has since expanded its menagerie to include mammals and birds such as eagles, ring-tailed lemurs and skunks. The park’s keepers coordinate hands-on demonstrations throughout the day where visitors can interact with live animals likes snakes, spider or birds of prey.
An order of monks oversees this authentic Trappist brewery and brews beer in order to finance their monastery and generate funds for other charitable causes. Like the other 12 Trappist breweries in the world, Koningshoeven adheres to specific codes and regulations to ensure that its operations meet specific standards related to this style of brewing. The brewery lies around three kilometres away from Tilburg’s city centre and features an in-house tasting room where visitors can sample Trappist beers on tap. The brewery organises tours around its facilities throughout the week that end with beer tasting sessions.
The Nature Museum Brabant
North-Brabant province’s chief natural history museum has existed for over 80 years and has grown considerably since it was founded in 1935. The museum houses many scientific specimens related to the natural world, which are displayed over three floors inside its main location near Tilburg’s Central Station. The museum is mainly tailored around kids and features many accessible and informative exhibitions that retrace the earth’s natural history. There are plenty of items that will likely appeal to grown-ups too, including the museum’s pièce de résistance, a 15 metre-long sperm whale skeleton.
De Pont was founded in 1995, after a local entrepreneur named Jan de Pont passed away and bequeathed funds to build a contemporary arts museum in Tilburg. Since then the museum has added many important pieces to its permanent collection, including artwork by Marlene Dumas, Ai WeiWei, and Steve McQueen. The museum organises around three major exhibitions every year alongside smaller, shorter expositions dedicated to individual artists, groups or movements. It also hosts events throughout the month, such as talks, performances and workshops.
As its name suggests, Tilburg’s TextielMuseum mainly collects items related to clothing, fabrics and textiles. Though its exhibitions often involve fashion, the museum also provides space for objects such as furniture, jewellery and textile arts. The industrial building that houses its main galleries dates back to the late 19th century and originally contained several textile factories. An adjacent glass-panelled structure was added to the complex in the 20th century, which serves as the museum’s entrance and lobby. Aside from organising exhibitions and events, the museum also features an innovative design studio called Textile Lab.
Tilburg’s largest music venue, 013 Poppodium, accommodates over 3000 visitors at a time and features two separate concert halls that can be adjusted in order to change their capacity limits. The building has a sleek, modern design and lies within walking distance from Tilburg’s main station. 013 regularly hosts high-profile musicians and often collaborates with local festivals, including Roadburn.