With such a young population, it is no surprise that Utrecht has a lively nightlife. The old city is bursting with pubs and clubs, music venues, cinemas and affordable restaurants.
The heart of the student scene is De Neude, a square lined with bars. Other popular areas are `t Wed and Janskerkhof. Tivoli is the local music mecca, attracting Dutch and international stars. Many smaller venues around town offer live rock, blues and jazz. And the numerous clubs cater to every taste, from hip-hop and techno to retro and alternative. Check the nightlife website for a list of bars and clubs.
Utrecht’s main concert hall, Vredenburg, is a huge 'Music Palace' for fans of classical, jazz, experimental and world music. Also, the city is upholding its artistic credentials by organizing a series of monthly one-day festivals. Each of these Cultural Sundays centres on specific theme. The variety is enormous, encompassing theatre, opera, music, dance, film, literature, visual arts, street culture and storytelling. Moreover, most events are free!
At HU you need not just be a spectator, though. To join the action, head for Parnassos. This student cultural centre provides reasonably priced courses and workshops in every field of the arts, including dance, theatre, music, film, creative writing and photography. It is also home to several student music and theatre groups. At just €5 a year, membership of its film club is one of the best deals in town. Parnassos also organizes regular performances and live music sessions.
For retail therapy, there are few better places than Utrecht. As well as big shopping centres like Hoog Catharijne, with all the big chains and brands, the city is peppered with boutiques showcasing famous and not-so-famous designers. There are markets for everything from day-to-day essentials to exotic treats, local specialities and second-hand bargains. And dozens of shops offering practical, fascinating or just plain quirky wares.