Everything you need to know about the renewed Hit The City

Bigger, better, hotter; Hit The City is approaching at full speed. Already? Yes, already! From August 29 to September 1, you can once again indulge in numerous awesome acts during our free city festival, spread across cool locations in the city. And starting this year, Hit The City will take place in late summer. Not only that, there have been some exciting upgrades. Curious? Check out what you need to know about the festival's new look right here.

Since 2012, Hit The City has been offering a full weekend of music discovery, spanning gritty guitars and danceable electropop to experimental hip-hop and everything in between. “The festival arose from two needs,” explains Robert Schaeffer, programmer for Effenaar and Hit The City since its inception. “Firstly, Eindhoven lacked a city-wide festival, so we aimed to connect more venues across the city. Secondly, we discovered many acts without a suitable platform to showcase them in Eindhoven.”

Effenaar often faces challenges with ticket sales for these emerging acts, making it impractical to host them all through club shows. “I vividly recall seeing Glass Animals at The Great Escape in Brighton. We were eager to bring them to Eindhoven, and Hit The City provided an excellent opportunity to showcase the band. We wouldn’t have taken the risk with a club show, but it worked out well within a festival setting.” The band graced the stage at Hit The City in 2013, back when their global hit ‘Heat Waves’ was just a distant thought in the musicians’ minds.

After several successful editions, Effenaar teamed up with Dutch Design Week in hopes of expanding the music festival by integrating it into the renowned design event. As a result, Hit The City operated under the name DDW Music for a number of years. During this period, Effenaar also partnered with the booking agency Friendly Fire to curate the lineup together. “Ultimately, Dutch Design Week decided to discontinue the music component, which led us to regain our independence.”

Nowadays, the city festival has returned to its original name for a few years. In 2022, Hit The City found a new partner in the tech company ASML, who, along with Effenaar and Friendly Fire, shares the goal of offering a large-scale and free city festival to the residents of Eindhoven.

Moving from October to summer

Although the past editions were held during Dutch Design Week, it turned out not to be ideal for the festival’s growth. “Firstly, because DDW occupies all the spaces where we would like to program. During that week, there simply isn’t room to expand. And being in the Netherlands, we can’t really move the festival outdoors,” Schaeffer laughs.

That’s why, starting this year, Hit The City is shifting to late summer. It’s an exciting move, according to Hit The City programmer and Friendly Fire booker Elvin Usidame, who has been involved with the festival for many years. Initially at Effenaar, where he worked as a programmer from 2014 to 2018, and now for about two years with partner Friendly Fire. “It was closely tied to the vibrancy of Dutch Design Week and the extra people in the city at that time. Now we’re truly breaking away from that. I think it’s a great moment for Hit The City to stand on its own.”

With the new date, the city festival becomes the moment when everyone comes together after the holiday season, explains Schaeffer. “We want to connect the city’s residents, and I strongly believe that music and this festival are great tools for that. Throughout the summer, we scatter across the world, and upon our return, during Hit The City, we can celebrate together how great Eindhoven is. I hope everyone feels like, ‘Oh, I’m glad to be home again, because Eindhoven is a wonderful city.’ That’s what we aim to capture in the festival.”

And to truly unite the city’s residents, the festival must be accessible to everyone. Despite Hit The City’s growth, one thing remains unchanged: the festival is and always will be free. “In today’s world where festival tickets are becoming more expensive, often requiring people to save up for a long time, it’s incredibly special to offer a festival of this size with such a fantastic lineup free of charge to the city.”

Party at Ketelhuisplein

Moving to the warmer season literally opens doors for Hit The City, as the city festival expands this year with an outdoor area. Alongside 15 indoor locations, Ketelhuisplein is added to the map, allowing you to enjoy great acts not only during the evening and night programs but also during the day – dancing in the sunshine.

The festival kicks off on Thursday evening with an exclusive opening concert by The Haunted Youth at Effenaar. The next day, Hit The City bursts into full swing across the city, where you can hop between indoor venues for a good dose of music. Schaeffer explains, “Then on Saturday, Ketelhuisplein joins in. The festival starts during the day, and in the evening, numerous bands will perform at the indoor locations. On Sunday, we all gather to wrap up at Ketelhuisplein. There, artists like MEROL and The Vices will perform in various styles. We aim to create a cozy atmosphere where you can go with your friends, dance a bit, and hang out on the terrace or grass.”

Sampa The Great performing for free in your backyard

Including Ketelhuisplein significantly scales up the festival, accommodating over 7000 music lovers. “This allows us to book much larger artists, which is essential for attracting a larger audience,” explains Renia Heeringa, Hit The City and Effenaar marketer. The festival has lined up Dutch singer MEROL and the adventurous Sampa The Great as its headline acts for the upcoming edition.

“These acts, a lineup like this, you can’t just see for free anywhere else,” she says, still with a hint of disbelief. This marks her third year working on the festival. “During my interview, I emphasized how excited I would be to contribute. Now, it’s growing into something beyond my initial expectations. We can now feature artists who have already surpassed the emerging stage. Honestly, what’s cooler than living near Ketelhuisplein and having Sampa The Great perform in your backyard? Not many people can say that. When I see that square filled, I might even shed a tear.”

Schaeffer is already eagerly looking forward to the show by the Zambian singer and rapper. “It’s going to be an amazing performance. We’ve brought in a large LED screen, there will be visuals and dancers. This will be a type of show that we rarely see in Eindhoven.”

However, the programmer is also feeling a slight stress because his other favorite, the post-punk band Snõõper, begins halfway through Sampa The Great’s performance. “I’m really excited about this booking too. I’m a big fan of theirs. So I’ll try to catch half of each performance. But it also shows how packed with excitement the festival is. There’s just so much cool stuff happening.”

Discover the headliners of the future

This year, the lineup boasts over 100 acts on the poster. Alongside the prominent names at Ketelhuisplein, Hit The City continues its tradition as a city-wide exploration, featuring numerous emerging international and national acts from diverse musical genres. Usidame highlights how the extensive program harmonizes well with Eindhoven’s various indoor venues: “I really appreciate Eindhoven’s diverse venues, and Effenaar has crafted those connections beautifully. Each venue has its own loyal following and distinct atmosphere.”

Within this rich tapestry of musical styles, the team of four programmers aims to curate acts right on the cutting edge. “Our goal is to bring acts to Eindhoven that’ll eventually become festival headliners. We’ve seen some great examples of this over the years.” Hit The City attendees have had the opportunity to discover now globally recognized acts in intimate settings. From Glass Animals and Phoebe Bridgers to S10, Khruangbin, Viagra Boys, and Fontaines D.C., they all contribute to the festival’s illustrious legacy. This year, the team hopes to add several more names to that esteemed roster.

“And with the new large area at Ketelhuisplein, we can also bring back artists who break through later,” explains the Friendly Fire booker, using Phoebe Bridgers as an example. “She’s too big now, but if we had made this change a few years ago, we could have brought her back as a headliner. It’s amazing to be able to closely follow artists’ careers now that we have more space to book larger acts.”

So far, the lineup has announced the first 60 names. Which act does Usidame have high expectations for this year? “Facesoul, you definitely shouldn’t miss. I saw him earlier this year at Rotown, where he performed to a sold-out crowd. It was truly one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent years.” Coming from a programmer and booker, that’s high praise indeed.

Act: Facesoul
Click here for more info on Facesoul

Big, bigger, biggest

With the addition of a new outdoor area, bigger names, and even more acts, Hit The City is making a significant leap forward this year. But the ambitions for the city festival extend much further, as Schaeffer explains. “We’re currently in phase 2, and phase 3 is right around the corner. In this phase, we’ll be adding various new areas to broaden the festival’s appeal. Our goal is for it to evolve into Eindhoven’s equivalent of the Gentse Feesten, offering more areas with a wider variety of experiences.”

And the best part? It’s all free. “It’s a festival you don’t need to save up for. Although we do encourage festival-goers to support us by purchasing food and drinks onsite, as that’s how we keep it free. So, we kindly ask that you enjoy your own beverages outside the festival grounds.” Looking ahead, the festival’s future plans enjoy full support from the Municipality of Eindhoven, which is actively scouting for suitable venues. “That’s the current challenge. But the municipality is fully on board, ASML is eager to support, and so are we.”

Don't be like Renia

In the final phase, the programmer would also eagerly bring back acts that have now grown to global stature. It’s something that marketer Heeringa jokes would relieve her disappointment. “It’s still a bitter pill,” she laughs. Holding two tickets for Fontaines D.C. — one for AFAS Live and one for their show in London — she reflects on missing out completely on seeing her beloved band.

“When I applied to Effenaar, I had heard of the festival, but I had never been myself. I started reading about it and saw what it was and who had performed there. Then I thought to myself, ‘This is so cool, why wasn’t I here?’ So, I actually missed Fontaines D.C… Now I have to go to AFAS Live, whereas I could have seen them at Stroomhuis with just 150 people, probably standing right in front of the frontman.”

Photo: Roos Pierson | Fontaines D.C. at Hit The City

The marketer can’t help but emphasize: “Be there, because this is your chance to experience awesome emerging acts firsthand. Don’t be like me.” So, if you haven’t already: Block August 29th to September 1st in your calendar now, because that’s when you’ll be dancing in the sun at Ketelhuisplein to Sampa The Great or grooving to one of the many up-and-coming talents taking over the city. See you there!

Click here for this year's line-up