Come to the Night of Discoveries
on Saturday 15 September from 7.00 pm

Pieterskerkplein, Rapenburg and Hortus Botanicus will be transformed into festival grounds for the Night of Discoveries on Saturday 15 September. Enjoy a surprising programme full of acts on the cutting edge of culture and knowledge. Lectures, music performances, theatre and live science take place both inside and outside at the Hortus, the Academiegebouw, PJ Vethgebouw, Oranjerie, Oude Sterrewacht, RMO, Old School and Gravensteen. The Rapenburg and the Pieterskerkplein are also festival locations. 

TIME has been chosen as the theme for the sixth edition of the Night. Dozens of Leiden scientists give lectures on this theme, from time travel to time perception and from calendars to clocks. Discover more about time with Vincent Icke, Ira van Dijk, Nadia Bouras or Menno Schilthuizen. Lose track of time at music gigs and theatre performances in the Hortus. There are films, excursions and a quiz about time, and there’s even a time capsule. And, at around midnight, illusionist Victor Mids will magic away the time.

The Night of Disocoveries is a festival in the historic centre of the city of Leiden. On September 15th 2018 visitors can enjoy troughout the city centre, music, interactive experiments, theatrical plays, lectures, modern dance, comedy and much, much more. This year we celebrate the fifth edition of our festival.

Most programmes are in Dutch. However, there are plenty of English speaking programs, so no reason to stay at home! If you come across an English description in this guide, that specific part of the programme will be held in English. Also, most researchers performing the experiments are able to speak English and are very happy to provide you with an explanation of their work in English. Feel free to approach them in English.

Website for more information



Sada Mire
Category LECTURE
Time and location Gravensteen, Pieterskerkhof, 10.30 pm
African time

Sada Mire explores African time. Mire examines the relationship between ancient calendars, cosmology, writing and medicine in the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Somaliland, Ethiopia). Mire, of Swedish/Somali descent, specialises in the archaeology, ethnology and history of the peoples in North-East Africa and has participated in excavations in the region as an archaeologist working at the University of Leiden. On the basis of that research and through collaboration with other scientific fields, she explores the relationship between archaeology, folklore and time. She compares cave paintings from Kenya with those in Somaliland. Just like the traditional folklore and calendars of Eastern Cushitic-speaking peoples, including lunar and solar calendars. Mire is a true storyteller. She takes her audience back to ancient African times.
Sada Mire gives her lecture in English.

Lotte Pet
Category LECTURE
Time and location P.J. Vethgebouw, Lecture Hall 06, 9.15 pm
Temporary art with biotechnology

To get a grip on the complexity of biological existence, we use frameworks in time to divide life into manageable sections. This enables us to formulate different values and meanings that are important for decision-making mechanisms in the biomedical world. However, recent biotechnologies mean that these time frames come under pressure, resulting in certain guidelines appearing to be less obvious. In the aesthetic world of bio-art, we look at how we can deal with these changes. This art form uses materials and techniques from the biotechnology industry and shows in a poetic way that an open and relational understanding of biological time is possible.

Lotte Pet is a PhD student at the Faculty of Humanities at Leiden University, where she researches the knowledge-generating qualities of biotechnological art. She specifically focuses on the material confrontations offered by bio-art in theoretical discussions, whereby traditional values are uncovered and transformed in the biotechnological discourse and alternative thought frameworks can arise.

Please note: Lotte Pet gives her lecture in English.

P.J. Vethgebouw, Lecture Hall 06, 9.15 pm

Guide of Light street theatre
Category Rapenburg
Time and location Rapenburg, on the quay, starting at 8.00 pm
Guide of Light

A sparkling light performance with a friendly giant as shining protagonist. Guide of Light is a high tech walk-act. A source of light comes at you and a mischievous giant with kind eyes suddenly appears. The performance reaches a climax with fireworks of flashing lights. While you're blinking from the lights, a glowing red, beating heart beckons. The friendly giant shakes your hand and says: "Nice to see you!" The giant’s name is SchnaKK. He comes from Pluto and is hugely curious about earth people.

The Guide of Light wears a costume with hundreds of LED lights, controlled by a small computer in the giant’s helmet. The lights cling tightly to his suit like friendly creatures. A guaranteed spectacle, but it’s ultimately about the boundless joy that the Guide of Light radiates.

The Floating Diva
Category Theatre
Time and location Rapenburg, on the water, 8.30 pm 
The Floating Diva  

Be seduced by a floating soprano in an extravagant costume. Propelled by two water lackeys, she slowly comes closer. The singer wears a skirt like a boat, made of umbrellas. Drowned in the past, the Floating Diva evokes associations with mermaids and shipwreck stories.
The special costume by Victorine Pasman is worn by soprano Frédérique Klooster who sings arias by Mozart and Puccini.
This gracious performance has already appeared at Lowlands, Wonderfeel, Oerol, Solar, the Gergiev Festival, Festival Classique, Musikfestspiele Potsdam, the Festival van Vlaanderen and the Festival du Périgord Noir. And the diva will now float along the Rapenburg in Leiden.

Rapenburg (on the water) 8.30 pm

Koen Hauser expo
Category THEATRE
Time and location Hortus, Orangery, ongoing
Koen Hauser

The projections of photographer and artist Koen Hauser are simultaneously realistic and alienating. In the Hortus, Koen shows the sequel to his video work Epitaphium. He uses images of skulls and skeletons as signs of advancing time.
Koen Hauser (1972) is a photographer and visual artist. In Leiden, he graduated in social psychology and then studied photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie. However diverse the subjects of his work are, the foundation is always an idiosyncratic style. It’s sophisticated, mysterious and full of references to iconic and historic images. His works have garnered international admiration and have been published in magazines such as l’Officiel, Blend, Spoon Magazine, Esquire, Capricious, Under/Current, Volkskrant magazine, FOAM magazine, Mr Motley and Kunstbeeld.
His work can be admired in the Orangery of the Hortus in an ongoing display during the Night of Discoveries. 

Chess in Hortus activity
Time and location Hortus, Slow Lane, ongoing
Set the clock for chess

Take the time to play a game of chess. Time can be an ally in the noble sport of chess. Or an enemy that sneaks up on you if you think too long about the next move. Even the most gifted grand masters have been confused by the ticking seconds of the unrelenting chess clock.
During the Night of Discoveries you can play chess against each other in the Slow Lane of the Hortus. Or against talented youth members of the Leiden Chess Federation. You can also challenge each other to a giant chess game. 

Dromoscopes expo in Hortus 
Category THEATRE
Time and location Hortus, Slow Lane, ongoing
Dream away the time

Dream away the time Put your head in a Dromoscope. A world opens up for you in these large geometric shapes set on high legs. A world that separates you from everyday life. An unexpected world. In these meticulously detailed viewing boxes, you get a glimpse into the brain with images, smells and sounds; you swim among the fish in a coral reef and peek through small windows at a dreamy city by night. Dromoscopes originated from the fantasy world of maker Charlotte van Otterloo. Curious about her dream world? Come on in. 

NYX night writer expo in Hortus
Category THEATRE
Time and location Hortus, Fast Lane, 8.30 pm - 11.30 pm
NYX: luminous poetry

The NYX is an installation that spits out luminous words on a dark street. NYX, goddess of the night and daughter of Chaos, the dark evening mists over the earth while she glides along the heavens.
The installation by visual artist Gijs van Bon writes words in illuminated sand. The text appears from the machine letter by letter and, once landed, poetic texts form. Read the illuminated poems that Gijs entrusts to the street with his night writer.
The wonderful writer guides the text and the reader through the night.

Hortus, Fast Lane, 8.30 pm – 11.30 pm

Freakshow escape room Pkplein street theatre
Category THEATRE
Time and location Rapenburg, near the Nonnenbrug, starting at 8.00 pm
Escape from the time capsule

Can you escape from the time capsule? The exotic Bearded Lady from the Freakshow Escape Room approaches visitors because she urgently needs help. You’re locked in a room with a team of four people. The mission: escape from the room within 15 minutes!
Once inside nothing is what it seems. Can you help the lovely Bearded Lady and escape before the eccentric circus director Zlatan Zorrero returns?

Rapenburg, near the Nonnenbrug, starting at 8.00 pm

Blue Hour show Pakplein
Category THEATRE
Time and location Pieterskerkplein,
Blue Hour

Spectacular light show on the theme of Time. Blue Hour takes time and creates audiovisual performances on the Pieterskerk that sound like a clock.
Blue Hour is a well-known phenomenon for visitors to the Night. During previous editions, they turned the Hortus into a fairytale garden. This year the Pieterskerk is the canvas for their work. The artists’ collective of Andrea Dröes, Jurjen Alkema and Jos Agasi creates visual experiences in their own poetic style. Their work can be seen during festivals, events and concerts, in and on buildings or in nature. They always meticulously align their performances with the location.
The Pieterskerk will be illuminated throughout the entire evening and, on a number of occasions, Blue Hour will present the audiovisual performance specially created by them on the theme of ‘time’.

Pieterskerkplein (ongoing)

Vera and Her Men
Category music
Time and location Hortus, 7.00 pm - 8.15 pm, 9.00 pm - 9.30 pm, 10.15 pm - 10.45 pm and 11.30 pm - midnight
3FM DJ Vera Siemons and her men

3FM DJ Vera Siemons is the type that stands at the front as often as possible during concerts – from EUT to Luwten, from Arcade Fire to MGMT and from Yung Nnelg to Jacin Trill – and is always willing to start a mosh pit or go crowd surfing. During the Night of the Discoveries, she’ll be on the decks together with Wessel van Hulssen.

Hortus, 7.00 pm – 8.15 pm, 9.00 pm - 9.30 pm, 10.15 pm – 10.45 pm and 11.30 pm – midnight 

Category MUSIC
Time and location Hortus, 8.15 pm - 9.00 pm

Quirky indie pop by the charming Rotterdam-based singer-songwriter Luka. Luka (Lisa Lukaszczyk) is inspired by artists such as Lianne La Havas, Feist and Patrick Watson. In 2014, she released her debut EP Change of Seasons and then played in Paradiso Tolhuistuin and at festivals such as Where The Wild Things Are, La Truite Magique and Noorderzon. In February 2018, she released her second album Welcome, Generation Everything. After an extensive club tour and a performance at Motel Mozaïque, Luka will cross the border for a series of international shows.  And she’ll be performing at the Night of Discoveries

Hortus, 8.15 pm - 9:00 pm

Category MUSIC
Time and location Hortus, 10.45 pm - 11.30 pm

Enchanting songs by Pitou. Look out, because this Amsterdam woman can break your heart. Her melancholic songs can cause a lump in the throat when you hear them.
Pitou is inspired by Joni Mitchell, Sparklehorse and the choral singing of Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares. Her 2016 debut EP, Beehype, was labeled as one of the best releases of the year. She incorporates a love for classical choral music in her songs and has polyphonic vocals flutter through each other. The British newspaper The Independent named her one of the Ones to Watch in 2018, and Pitou stole hearts at national and international festivals. In May, she released her second EP I Fall Asleep So Fast.

The Visual
Category MUSIC
Time and location Hortus, 9.30 pm - 10.15 pm
The Visual
Layered, poetic songs by The Visual. This Amsterdam band consists of songwriter Anna van Rij, keyboardist Timon Persoon and drummer Jochem van Rooijen.

The Visual performs songs that are just as sharply based on atmosphere and silence as on a beautiful melody, where the expressive voice of Van Rij is the absolute focus.  Anna fluidly switches from hot to cold - sometimes full of power and seduction, sometimes quite cool and gloomy.  Without eschewing the experiment, The Visual shatters fixed ideas about identity, character and human relationships.

Sean Christopher
Category MUSIC
Time and location Hortus, Wintertuin (Winter Garden), 11.00 pm
Sean Christopher

Lose track of time when Sean Christopher sings. When the singer-songwriter Sean Christopher (last name de Vries) from The Hague picked up his father’s old flamenco guitar, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.
In his self-built studio, the melodic songs for his critically acclaimed album Yonder suddenly flowed from his mind and hands. With an international record deal in the bag, Sean Christopher has moved to Bristol and from England he quickly found acclaim with his dreamy compositions and light vocals. Discover his unique talent in the Wintertuin of the Hortus.

When and where is the Night of Discoveries?

The event is on Saturday September 15th 2018 from 7 pm to 1 am at the following locations:  Hortus botanicus Leiden, Academiegebouw, Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Oude Sterrewacht, de sociëteit van LVVS Augustinus and SieboldHuis. All of the locations are located at the Rapenburg.

What is the price of a ticket?

Regular tickets are EUR 17,50. If you can show that you are a student, you can buy a ticket for EUR 12,50. Please bring your student card to the festival. 

Does my e-ticket count as my admission ticket?

No, your e-ticket does not count as your admission ticket. You have to exchange your e-ticket for a wristband during the festival which allows you to enter all of the locations.

Is it possible to buy tickets at the door?

Of course. There are ticket booths at the festival area.

Does my wristband allow me to enter all of the locations?

Yes it does. Please make sure to be on time if you really don’t want to miss a certain speaker or act. Most of the locations have a maximum capacity.

Is it possible to buy drinks or food?

Certainly, bars and foodtrucks will provide you with drinks and food. You can pay with tokens which can only be paid with your debit card (PIN).

Is the festival suited for children?

The festival does not focus on children, but loads of the acts are very suitable for kids.

What is the best way to reach the festival?

The easiest way is to come by public transport or bike. Leiden Centraal train station is 10 min. away by foot. By car you can easily park in the Parking Lammermarkt.


I don't speak Dutch, is that a problem?

If you don't speak Dutch it's absolutely no problem! Some lectures even are in English, especially for international visitors. Also, loads of scientists and speakers are happy to provide you with an English explanation of their work, so do not hesitate to ask them. So yes, we would love to welcome you to the event, even if you don't speak Dutch!