An evening out
There is no shortage of student bars in Breda. The nightlife is centred around the Havermarkt. Even on weekdays, student bars such as the Walkabout (Australian interior) and Miller Time stay open until well after midnight and regularly host (theme) parties organized by student societies.
Dependance and Kerkplein are excellent places to go dancing, also on Saturday nights. Party bars such as Dinges, Dikke and Suyckerkist frequently have special offers (four beers for five Euros) but try and avoid Friday afternoons as the place is packed with intoxicated secondary school pupils. And as of now, you really wouldn't be caught dead in their company! Once you walk along the Vismarktstraat to the terraces on the Haven (the old harbour) you will come across a number of dodgy bars such as café Janssen, café Oranje (big screen football!) and Catch 22.
If (brown) cafés are not really your thing, there is always the Mezz pop venue. This year, the building that can hardly be missed and is popularly called 'the copper peanut', welcomes big names such as De Dijk, Spinvis, Within Temptation, De Staat and Moke, but smaller bands, DJs and singer-songwriters are also given every opportunity to shine on the various Mezz stages. Nowadays, the real underground scene goes to 'cultural living room' De Wasserette.
The café serving good, varied and affordable food is Café Bruxelles on the Havermarkt. Every day they offer a different city menu for 8.50 Euros, and on Mondays the price is actually lowered to 5.45 Euros (two beers). On nights out the tables and chairs are pushed to the side at around ten, and Bruxelles changes into a popular dance bar, although generally it is too crowded to dance comfortably. Neighbour Corenmaet may be a little pricier, but then again, it has a lovely tapas menu. Located on the opposite side of the Havermarkt, Dependance also has a simple menu.
For a good pizza visit Italian restaurants Il Padrino or Da Attilio on the Grote Markt and for Mexican wraps Popocatepetl and Tortillas are the place to go. These days, the Walkabout on the Grote Markt also includes a pub serving food, with the same down under interior, full of atmosphere. For the more artistically minded, there is theatre/café/dining salon De Boulevard, accessible via a hidden entrance next door to 't Hart van Breda on the Grote Markt.
The best lunch can be had on the Haven, at Beleg van Breda. And the prettiest view on offer is the view from the T-huis in the Valkenbergpark: in good weather the terrace is guaranteed to be full. Only for lunch, as the T-huis only opens until six o'clock, but the toasted ham and cheese sandwiches and extensive tea menu are definitely worth a try.
These days, more and more fun events are being organized in Breda. In August and September alone there is ample choice: a (fun)fair at the Ginneken summer festival, the hip hop festival Boogiedown, tear-jerkers at Tranen van Van Cooth, the BUT (B-movie, Underground, Trash) Filmfestival, Cartoon Festival, HBO Intro Festival, free-entry pop festival Breda Barst and big-name artists at the Helden van Amstel Live. A great way to get familiarized with the city.
However, once these festivals are over, there are still plenty of exciting things to do and see in Breda. During the annual carnival the city is transformed into one huge party venue. For four successive days, everywhere you go you will see people dressed up and drinking. If you are from north of the big rivers, this is an event you really don't want to miss.
The cold winter months are followed by the Breda Jazz Festival. Even if you're not that mad about jazz, there is enough going on to keep you entertained. There are plenty of non-jazz bands in the cafés or on outdoor stages, and either way, the atmosphere is always brilliant. If, on the other hand, you're more into dance and house, the free-entry Dancetour festival, year in year out attended by well-known DJs, would be more to your taste. Breda Live hosts famous Dutch artists like Alain Clark, Nick & Simon and VanVelzen. And on sultry summer evenings in July and August, you can visit the Valkenbergpark for the Palm Parkies Festival where you can listen to music while enjoying a glass of beer or wine.
With its three hockey clubs Push, Zwart-Wit and Breda, Breda is a genuine hockey city. Many of the members are students. You can play soccer at Jeka and Baronie, whose best teams play in the first division. Naturally, running is something you can do on your own, but if you'd rather run with a group, the place to go is Sprint athletics club. Affordable sports memberships can be obtained by presenting a BRESS (Breda Student Sports Foundation) card.
Those who prefer to watch sports, can stand along the route at the Amgen Singelloop, that is held in the first weekend of October. Equestrian enthusiasts will get a great deal of pleasure out of Outdoor Brabant. At the Baronie Breda Classic you will have the opportunity to see racing cyclists whizzing past. Breda is eager to be noted for its accessibility, which is why in October the ParaGames are held. An event where physically challenged athletes play games, while non-athletes can also participate in the clinics.
But whatever you do, do not forget to do an 'avondje NAC' (a night out at NAC). Best not sit among the hard-core supporters, look for the somewhat more agreeable fans. At present, Breda is the only Avans city boasting a premier league club. Even though the club is currently going through hard times financially, the Breda supporters are putting the club back on its feet.
In 2009 Breda was elected Best Town Centre in the Netherlands, an honorary title it can carry until this fall. Main reason: the Breda shopping facilities. From Dordrecht to Zeeland and from Belgium to East Brabant: it is not only the Breda residents who know what a wonderful town centre Breda has when it comes to shopping. In other words, do not be surprised if every other minute you hear a broad Flemish accent or a Randstad (Western Holland) accent in the shops.
Even on the busiest Sunday shopping days, the incredibly wide and heel-friendly Eindstraat and Ginnekenstraat are easily navigable, housing large branch-stores of shops such as Zara, Mexx, H&M (for men), Jack & Jones, Esprit and The Sting. Right at the end the shopping street seems to come to a stop, but if you continue on a little bit up to Bagels & Beans, you are sure to also take in the smaller clothes shops.
Even when it's raining, Breda offers the opportunity to shop till you drop. De Barones is the large covered shopping centre smack in the middle of the shopping area, housing two stories of shops, including the entrances to the H&M, de Bijenkorf and V&D department stores.
And what if you're not interested in the large store chains you can find in any city? You simply cross the Grote Markt and walk into (and all the way down) the Veemarktstraat where you will find small fashion boutiques and home furnishing shops filled with nicknacks. Gaze in admiration at the bridal fashion and evening dresses, have a cup of coffee at Douwe Egberts and finally lay your hands on that long-sought-after book at 't Ezelsoor: a Walhalla of new, second-hand and antique books. Whatever you do, do not miss out on De Kookwinkel and Knappe Koppen (dinner service and more), just around the corner from the Sint Janstraat.
It goes without saying that Breda's largest and most famous cultural temple is the Chassé Theatre. The architecturally-impressive building just outside she shopping centre offers visitors four theatre auditoriums and three film theatres (Chassé Cinema), a venue where art cinema buffs will truly feel at home. The theatre features shows ranging from Najib Amhali to the Brabants Orchestra.
Are these reserved for the elite few? Nonsense! A mere six Euros a year will get you a Chassé Cinema card, allowing a 1 Euro reduction to all films. And there's no need to leave the building to get a nice cocktail or bite to eat: the attractive red Brasserie and trendy, sleek white lounge bar FRONT, offer both.
Museum lovers can have a great time at the Breda Museum or the more contemporary Graphic Design Museum, an absolute must for graphic design students at the Academy of Arts.
And make sure that, within the next four years, you go and admire the inside of the Grote Kerk (Big Church). The tower provides you with a wonderful view of all your favourite shops and pubs! Bear in mind that entrance is free at certain times (from now until the end of December).
'Breda is a fabulous town to live in', Mitchel van der Peijl, second-year Commercial Economics student in Breda states. 'I grew up in Terneuzen, so I was desperate to go to the big city. To my mind, Rotterdam and Amsterdam were too big, and besides, to the south of the big rivers, life is just that little bit more easy-going.
'There's always something going on in Breda', Mitchel tells us. 'The coolest things I've experienced so far, are the parties on the platform beside the Spinola boat (in the Spanjaardsgat, note from the editor) during the Breda Jazz Festival. That was simply amazing!'
'I'm a member of the coordinating Phileas Fogg student society in Breda, meaning I spend a great deal of time in the society's clubhouse on the Schoolstraat. I have joined the Dagobert men's debating society. Being part of a club allows you to experience things that you would otherwise never experience as a student. My tip to new students: join a club or debating society!'
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