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Groningen is a university city in the northeast of the Netherlands, the capital of Groningen province.

Since 1986 the city has hosted the Eurosonic and Noorderslag festivals every January. Eurosonic features music acts from around Europe while the Noorderslag festival concentrates on Dutch artists.

Links With Peel

Vera venue, Groningen

Peel had visited Groningen in October 1992 during a trip around Europe for Radio 1's 'Euro Action Special', where he visited the Vera venue and interviewed the manager. [1]

The Peel show first visited Groningen for the Eurosonic / Noorderslag festivals in 2000, returning each year thereafter with the exception of 2003 ("for various complicated technical, or rather boring reasons actually, we didn't go this year" ([2]). For what turned out to be the show's final visit in 2004, the show was broadcast live for the first time, from the Vera venue in the city.

Each year Peel was invited to nominate a band to send to the festival. These comprised Hefner (2000), Melys (2001), Aereogramme (2002), Miss Black America (2003) and the Cranebuilders (2004).

By 2004 it seems as though Peel was growing slightly disenchanted with the music on offer:

"I have to say actually listening to this stuff again obviously we love going to Groningen for the record shops and so forth and because we meet a lot of nice people there and it's all fantastically well-intentioned but it does seem to be increasingly a kind of pub rock event and slightly rooted in the mists of pre-history. We may go again. The Cranebuilders I thought were by such a distance the best band there of the ones that we heard. But we may have missed out on some magnificent stuff 'cos obviously there are so many bands playing you can't possibly hear them all." (27 January 2004)

Groningen is also the home town of pirate radio enthusiast Hans Knot[3], one of the collectors who helped circulate rare recordngs of Peel's shows for Radio London, although the DJ doesn't seem to have had any contact with him.

Festival Dates

  • 2000: Friday 7 (Eurosonic) & Saturday 8 (Noorderslag) January [4]
  • 2001: Friday 5 (Eurosonic) & Saturday 6 (Noorderslag) January [5]
  • 2002: Friday 11 (Eurosonic) & Saturday 12 (Noorderslag) January [6]
  • 2003: Thursday 9 / Friday 10 (Eurosonic) & Saturday 11 January (Noorderslag) [7]
  • 2004: Thursday 8 / Friday 9 (Eurosonic) & Saturday 10 January (Noorderslag) [8]


"It's a place that looms fairly large in the mythology of this programme." (15 January 2002)

Peel looked forward to visiting Groningen for record shopping, with Platenworm Records being a particular favourite. However, his first attempt to find the shop during the show's initial visit in 2000 ended up with the team walking a considerable distance in a fruitless search due to a misreading of the address they had been given. They subsequently discovered that the shop was in the street just behind their hotel. [9] It was during this visit in 2000 that Peel discovered the music of the White Stripes, purchasing their debut LP (on import) after hearing it being played in Platenworm when they eventually made it there.


Ferris wheel at the main square in Groningen

"What makes it interesting is the fact that it's some distance from any other town, so it's entirely self-contained. It's a really attractive little town and it's a good place to be and there are times when I feel like retiring to Groningen actually." (15 January 2002)

While Peel certainly enjoyed his visits to the Groningen for the festivals, he was also charmed by the attractions of the city itself. John and wife Sheila visited the city on at least two other occasions [1], with one memorable trip mentioned on 08 January 2004:

"We've actually been here when it wasn't Noorderslag or Eurosonic because we just like it very much. We came here just after Christmas a few years ago and there was a big fair in the main square. Drink had been taken and we went up on a Ferris wheel and it was a temporary Ferris wheel, wasn't a permanent structure at all. And we don't normally go on things like that because we don't really like it very much. When we were on, once it had started we realised that we'd made a serious mistake. And when it got up to the top and it stopped, we were higher than the top of the spire on the big church in the square which if you go and look at it is very, very high indeed. And that on a kind of temporary structure is very scary."

Featured Shows


  1. May 2000 being one such visit, on their way back from Berlin.
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