Wrongly called “Friesland” by us Brits this province in the North of the Netherlands has the black and white Holstein-Friesian cows, famous for their high milk yield of healthily low butterfat levels, and the famous Friesian horses, large, black, strong and beautiful and a natural choice these days for dressage, films and TV, though they were once used as war horses since they were one of the few breeds strong enough to carry a knight in full armour.
For organisers of events Fryslan has a good range of venues available, as we discovered from our recent trip there, including one of the largest in the country, situated just outside Leeuwarden, the capital city of the province. This is the WTC Expo centre which has seven exhibition halls of 2,000 square metres to 10,260 square metres, and a conference centre with 13 meetings spaces for 25 to 750 delegates theatre-style, and two boardrooms. Adjacent to the centre and with a direct connection is the modern 4-star Westcord WTC hotel with 143 bedrooms, some long-stay apartments and, for those who like to gamble, the next-door Holland Casino. (See Foodie News April for review of one restaurant here, plus others sampled in Fryslan.)
In Leeuwarden is the modern Harmonie centre which has three halls suitable for theatrical and musical performances and accommodating 250/450/1,000 theatre-style and two meetings rooms for 60/100. There are also two foyer areas, one on the ground floor which can cater for 550 for a dinner and 1250 for a reception, and one on an upper floor which holds 80 for a dinner and 175 for a reception. This last was used by our hosts at Holland North to present a workshop with 13 suppliers of event activities possible in the area, including sailing and other sports, and safely walking across the Wadden Sea to one of the offshore islands, when the tide is out. Another very original idea is to go out on a fishing boat with a skilled eel fisherman and learn how to catch, smoke and eat your own eels, for our money one of the top fishy tastes Holland offers, along with the herring of course.
Our stay there was at the newly-refurbished four-star Post-Plaza Grand hotel, a centrally-located imaginative conversion of a former large post office and sorting centre with many of the original features retained for interest. The ground floor Grand Cafe occupies the old sorting area and features a large poster from the 1981 remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice, with Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson. There are 82 non-smoking bedrooms in a number of styles featuring flat-screen TVs, tea and coffee facilities, laptop safes and free Wi-Fi, and many have baths for extra comfort. For events there are 5 meetings rooms totaling 800 square feet of space. Another hotel visited was the five-star country-house style Landgoed Lauswolt, a Bilderberg property located between Leeuwarden and Groningen and around 40 kilometres from each. This offers 65 bedrooms, five meeting rooms for up to 180 and is next door to an 18-hole golf course.
An interesting venue for a visit, since it’s an integral part of life in the low-lying Netherlands is the Woudagemaal pumping station, built to pump water out of Fryslan fields and the largest steam-powered pumping station in the world, now one of only ten UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country. Those who love looking at old steam engines will be in their element here, and others can enjoy the educational show-round and interesting 3D film about the station’s operation, something that needs to be operated a few days a year. Those with personal experience of the recent flooding in the UK may wonder if we haven’t something to learn here.
Note: Our press trip was organised by Holland North. Organisers who would like to see what the North of Holland can offer and are interested in a hosted trip can contact Jant or Inez on 00 31 (0) 58 250 20 21 or email to [email protected]