In Overijssel there is lots to do in your free time all year round. Not only in the main cities, but also in the smaller villages and countryside; there is plenty of entertainment and events.

No inspiration? Check the websites or Facebook pages of the tourist offices, they show year-round activities but also cultural agenda’s. The Expat centre itself also hosts a monthly Meet and Greet and outings several times per year for the whole family. You can find more information in the News section of the ECE website ( Or you just go and explore the natural beauty of the province on foot or by bike. There are many routes you can follow but going without a plan is also possible, since you don’t have to be scared of getting lost in the small nature areas with many visitors and farms around.

Culture & music

The main cities in Overijssel all have their own theatres with regular programmes of music, dance, plays and operas, but also cult movies and documentaries. Tickets can be quite expensive, but cheaper when you buy in advance or book several shows of the season. Main theatres in Overijssel are:

  • Wilminktheater in Enschede
  • Schouwburg Hengelo
  • Theaterhotel Almelo
  • Deventer Schouwburg
  • Theater de Spiegel in Zwolle
  • Schouwburg Odeon in Zwolle
  • Theater de Meenthe in Steenwijk
  • HOFtheater in Raalte
  • Parkgebouw in Rijssen
  • De Bond in Oldenzaal

In every big city in Overijssel you’ll find a cinema. The international commercial movies are not dubbed but have Dutch subtitles with the original audio, mostly in English. When you are visiting an (animated) family movie, do check before you buy tickets. These movies are most often Dutch spoken. Biggest cinemas are Kinepolis in Enschede, Cinema Hengelo, Movie Unlimited Bioscoop Almelo, Pathé Zwolle and Vue Deventer.

Fun Fact: Unlike most countries, the movies in the Dutch cinema’s have a break (pause) halfway through of about 10 minutes. This gives you time to stretch your legs, buy a drink or a snack and use the toilets.

For concerts of national and international bands and artists, Overijssel has some cool stages, of which Hedon Zwolle, Burgerweeshuis Deventer, Muziekcentrum Enschede and Metropool in Hengelo are best known. It’s not likely to see big international stars climbing the stages, as they only visit big stages in the west of the country. Nevertheless, the line-ups of these venues are very impressive, so check out their schedules, there is something out there for everyone.

Moreover, in spring and summer you can enjoy the music in the outdoors on festivals all over Overijssel. Big festivals in Overijssel include Bevrijdingsfestival in Zwolle on Liberation Day (5th of May), Freshtival in Enschede during the Whitsun weekend and Dauwpop near Hellendoorn on Ascension Day, although the latter is sometimes held another weekend to be sure of good weather


Fun & shopping

Overijssel also has a lot of other entertainment to offer, for example bowling, billiards, laser gaming, paint balling and go karting. At GoPlanet in Enschede you can find an entertainment area which even has a scuba diving tower. Activities for big groups while exploring the landscape of Overijssel are for example canoeing and rides on solex scooters or with tuk tuks. Moreover, so-called escape rooms gain in popularity as group activities. Players are locked into a room and by solving puzzles and riddles they try to escape. You can find these escape rooms throughout the whole province of Overijssel and offer a great activity to undertake with friends or colleagues.

For fans of shopping, the main cities in Overijssel offer a broad pallet of shops, both big stores for clothes as well as small specialised shops with comic books, decorations and music. Enschede, Zwolle and Deventer, but also Hengelo and Almelo are good for a long day of shopping. Smaller towns like Oldenzaal and Borne can keep you strolling for an afternoon.

Second hand purchases are becoming more and more normal and the quality of the offered items is growing. Check out shops that say ‘tweedehands’ like Het Goed or “Kringloop winkel” in almost all cities for cheap but good furniture, kitchen equipment and books

Also second hand clothing shops are very clean and reliable for example Appel & Ei and La Penderie in Enschede, where you can also sell your old (designer) clothes. Buying from individuals is also very common for example on the website or via ads that people hang at supermarkets and community centres.

If you buy from individuals living afar (ie. the item will be sent by mail): make sure you see pictures of the item before sending money and with expensive purchases suggest that you pay a part before and a part after having received the item. In most cities you’ll find charity shops where you can donate your goods that will be sold again. The profits will go to charity projects.

Tip: Just across the border, in Germany, there are also many fine cities and shopping centres. Some products are cheaper or you’ll find different products, like shoes, electronics and furniture. Visit Gronau by train, Nordhorn or the outlet stores in Ochtrup by car. During the Christmas season Münster and the medieval town of Bad Bentheim have an amazing atmosphere at their Christmas markets.




There are many opportunities for kids in Overijssel to run around and have a good time. Both indoors and outdoors. Indoor playgrounds are common, where you can buy a big jug of lemonade for a couple of euros and let the kids go their own way. The playgrounds ask a small entrance fee, but you can enjoy yourself all day. The children are still your responsibility, so do keep an eye on them! You could for example visit Bengeltjesdorp in Hengelo, Kids City in Borne, Avontura and Bounz in Enschede, Djambo Kidsplay and Monkey Town in Zwolle or De Wolventuin in Ommen. Nice weather? Enjoy one of the restaurants with lunchrooms that have big outdoor playgrounds outside of the cities, like Molenven in Saasveld, Villa Kakelbont in Vasse or ‘t Hoogspel in Delden. The entrance is mostly free, if you order a beverage and enjoy the terrace.

Tip: You want the kids to meet some children from your neighbourhood? Go visit a local playground. Those are the fenced playgrounds, sometimes run by volunteers that offer activities especially in summer and during school holidays.


Theme parks

For a full day of amusement with the whole family, you can go to theme parks. In Twente you’ll find De Waarbeek in Hengelo, Attractiepark Hellendoorn en Themepark&Resort Slagharen. The biggest are outside of the region, like Walibi Flevoland and the typical Dutch Efteling. Don’t forget about Germany! Just across the border you can find Wunderland Kalkar and Movie Park Germany. Tickets can be expensive, so plan your visit well so you can enjoy it as long as possible. Most parks offer deals online that include meals or a stay at their hotel or bungalow park.



Sport clubs

There are sporting facilities in every city and village. You can find fitness gyms in almost every town, which offer different types of deals and group lessons. If you want to join a team you can become a member at one of the many sport clubs in Overijssel, where you pay a monthly or annual fee to join a team. The most popular sport is football (soccer), with clubs even in the smallest villages. Other sports you can join are volleyball, hockey, rowing, handball, rugby, American football, baseball and softball, water polo, golf, tennis, ice skating and many more.

Once you have found a club of your interest, just contact them and ask for a trial to see if you like the sports and fit in the team. Most of the phone numbers or email addresses can be found on the websites and English is usually understood, especially with the more internationally played sports.


Swimming pools

Water is everywhere in the Netherlands. Because of that you’ll find a public swimming pool in almost every city to teach children at a young age to swim and feel safe in the water.

In Overijssel the biggest swimming pools for lessons and leisure are Aquadrome in Enschede, Twentebad in Hengelo, Preston Palace in Almelo, De Scheg in Deventer, Optisport Zwembad de Vrolijkheid in Zwolle and Het Ravijn in Nijverdal. The price for a day-ticket is inexpensive, but the pools are not available all day for leisure swimming because of lessons and sport clubs.

You want to go swimming to do some serious tracks or you want to learn how to swim? Almost every pool offers swimming lessons, clubs for different water sports and hours for trackers. Check out the website of your local pool to see the schedule.

Tip: Want to cool down at the pool on a hot summer day? Check if your local pool actually has an outdoor section. This is not always the case. Some pools (like De Mors in Delden) only have outdoor pools and are closed in winter.



Although it may seem tempting to jump into the river IJssel or other canals in the region on a hot summer’s day, be aware; this is dangerous, due to strong currents and sudden temperature changes, and therefore in most cases forbidden. Feel like swimming outdoors anyway? Overijssel has several lakes with a very high water quality, grass fields around and small sandy beaches, like Hulsbeek in Oldenzaal, Rutbeek south of Enschede, Het Lageveld in Wierden, De Oldemeijer in Hardenberg, the Wijthmenerplas in Zwolle or Bussloo southwest of Deventer. You don’t have to be afraid of getting sick, although in July and August there is a risk of algae. The authorities will let you know if that’s the case. In summer there are lifeguards keeping you safe.

Most lakes have facilities like toilets, changing rooms and small shops to buy snacks, ice creams and drinks. Showers are not always present.


Music & arts

Feel like playing a musical instrument or want to explore your artistic side? You can follow several courses in both public institutions as well as private classes. At public institutions, like local music schools (muziekschool), de Zwolse Muziekschool (Zwolle), Muziekhuis Deventer, Kaliber Kunstenschool (Enschede, Almelo en Oldenzaal) and Oyfo (Hengelo), courses are usually cheaper. Private teachers and groups can be found online.

If you want try out music classes, theatre or joining an art or choir, it’s common to ask for a trial. More serious groups can ask for an audition before welcoming you into the classes.


If you should need further information, or have more questions, you are always welcome to visit the Expat Centre website ( or contact them via email (