GLOW Eindhoven, Netherlands
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Eindhoven, Netherlands is known as a technology and design hub in the southern part of the country. It also happens to be a city we always seem to be passing through, but have never really taken the time to explore.
Eindhoven GLOW, a winter light festival, has been on my wish list since we moved here. When a school holiday for our Big Little coincided with my parents’ visit we decided to take an overnight trip to Eindhoven to check out some of its highlights and see the GLOW festival. Central Eindhoven is compact and easy to explore on foot. But, it was bombed during WWII so it lacks the charm of some other Dutch towns.
Getting There: By Train
We took the train from Delft to Eindhoven. It is nearly as quick as driving. The train ride is just over an hour and is full of windmills, sheep and canals. The train is fast and only makes a few stops. Use the app 9292 to plan your route, check costs and times of trains in the Netherlands.
If you board the train using one of the doors with a bicycle stamped on it you will find plenty of space for the stroller and some fold down seats. This was perfect for the Little Little who fell asleep part of the way through the ride.
We actually had beautiful weather for November but it was a bit nippy in the shade. I had the GreenTom stroller (read the full review here) for the Little Little, which I love because of how light it is and how easily it pushes. With the 7am Enfant baby bunting bag installed we were ready for the weather. (This one adjusts sizes so I can fit either the Little Little or the Middle Little in the bag comfortably.)
Where to Stay: The Student Hotel
There are a ton of good looking hotels in Eindhoven. We ended up at The Student Hotel, a budget design hotel. The Student Hotel combines student housing, long term stays and a standard hotel into one facility. The hotel is directly across the street from the train station, making it an ideal location. The hotel separates the university students from the other guests by floor and elevator access via room key so we had no problems with noise.
The family room could not have been more perfect for us with two king beds facing each other in a spacious room. There was plenty of room to put the Phil & Teds travel crib in-between the beds.
The hotel offers great views of the city, particularly during GLOW. It also has a restaurant that looks lovely but we didn’t try it during our stay.
Where to Eat
We arrived in Eindhoven around lunch time and headed right to The Happiness Cafe. There are two locations in Eindhoven, The Happiness Kitchen, being the other. The food options were fresh and delicious. Their goal is to support healthy eating so options differed from your normal Dutch food. There was a lunch rush, but we were able to snag a table and a baby chair. You order at the counter and they bring the food to your table. We also saw plenty of people ordering to go.
Dinner on a Friday night of GLOW turned out to be a problem, despite hitting the restaurants early. The Trafalgar Pub looks amazing and was our first choice but it was packed. You can make a reservation, which we would obviously suggest. Then we tried De Burger, which we had walked past earlier in the day, but it too was packed! If you didn’t have kids you could make De Burger work since you order and wait at the bar. Alternatively you could have it delivered using Deliveroo. Unfortunately, we found one member of the staff to be rude when we asked for an available table.
We ultimately ended up at Cooks, which was amazing. It was empty when we walked in but quickly filled to the brim. They had a highchair for our Little Little. The children’s menu here is outstanding. Kids can pick one item from either the appetizers or the tapas menu and it is served with fries, a salad and ice cream. The adults all chose to pick three tapas which are served with salad and fries. (I chose roasted eggplant, shrimp and a veggie burger. Yum!) The staff at Cooks went out of their way to help us enjoy an amazing meal on an amazing night.
Saturday morning we headed to Meneer De Boer, which came highly recommended by everyone we asked. The place is small, but we were the first to arrive. They have kids toys and high chairs so it’s perfect for families. The boys ordered pancakes which came with strawberries and syrup. My kids then added hagelslag from the table. Jeff and Grandpa chose the farmer’s breakfast platter which is a more traditional Dutch breakfast – bread, meats, cheeses and eggs. Grandma and I chose the cheese toasties topped with a cooked tomato and a fried egg. It was so good and we were so full that no one wanted lunch.
What to do
Eindhoven is home to Philips. Philips started as a lightbulb company but quickly expanded their operation and continues to innovate today. The Philips Museum (on the Museumkaart program) in Eindhoven celebrates the company’s history with a variety of hands-on exhibits.
You start with a recreation of the original Philips laboratory where they worked on light bulbs and then you can explore the role the company played in World War II and onto future innovations.
It is not a kids museum but there are several hands-on displays the kids enjoyed. They explored the Kitten Scanner, a machine designed to help children prepare for their own body scan.
The museum is wide open so we let the kids run around a bit and watch the videos throughout the museum.
Upstairs things got a bit more hands-on. The kids were able to explore technologies they were unfamiliar with, like radios, record players and tapes.
Display cases showed the progression of Philips products. I loaded the Little Little into the LILLEbaby all seasons carrier. It was warm in the museum so I zipped open the ventilation flap to keep the Little Little comfortable.
In the last section of the museum you are able to try out upcoming technology. The kids loved the section on how new medical equipment will make it less invasive and easier for doctors to monitor us in our own homes. They also enjoyed taking a tour of a future city in virtual reality.
There was also plenty for the Little Little to touch when forward facing in the LILLEbaby. Everyone was happy.
The Van Abbe Museum of modern art, part of the Museumkaart program, is a perfect spot if you’re a fan of modern art. It is not a kids museum but our kids found plenty to enjoy. The special exhibition of light installation art for GLOW was entertaining for the whole family.
The permanent collection is in the new building, which is surrounded by water. Our boys enjoyed looking for the hidden rooms that extend out into the water. The glass elevator in this building sings scales as you travel up and down, something that proved incredibly amusing.
This piece of art that looks like a pillow fort but is really hard sandbags was a huge hit with the kids. They were allowed to run around inside so long as they took their shoes off.
Also entertaining for our kids was a wall and cloaks that allowed you to disappear. My five-year-old Big Little and I are reading Harry Potter and he dubbed this the invisibility cloak.
This is a great place to spend some time in Eindhoven. They have a lovely cafe that is out on the water, but was crowded with what looked like a corporate party when we arrived. Older kids will love all the modern art and it will hold the little ones’ attention for a bit.
DAF is a Dutch truck company with headquarters and main plant in Eindhoven. The DAF Museum hosts a collection of DAF vehicles throughout the years. (It is also on the Museumkaart.) The DAF Museum is a huge win with kids. The staff went out of the way to show the kids the best parts of the museum.
The large collection of cars and engines are sure to please. There are several movies to watch and information is presented in English and Dutch.
The brand new DAF Truck is the real highlight. Staff members opened the doors and let the little ones climb in and try it out.
I think our boys could have stayed here all day. There are bunk beds and a million buttons to touch. The only downside is that it is so high off the ground an adult has to closely supervise to keep everyone safe.
The museum has thought of this though and has two smaller trucks at ground level the kids can play in as well. There are also a variety of computer games and truck driving trainers to try.
The boys even sat for the movies throughout the museum. They loved watching all the movies of trucks being built, tested and driven.
The collection of cars on the top floor takes you through a history of DAF. We liked looking for the years when head rests and then seat belts were introduced.
There was also a collection of fire tucks, so of course those were a big win. Jeff particularly enjoyed the military vehicles – including an armored personnel carrier you can climb into.
We popped into Saint Catherine’s Church when we passed by it on a walk. Later we would be back to see it all lit up for GLOW. The stained glass windows inside are quite impressive. They also have several display cases full of artifacts unearthed during construction in Eindhoven.
The reason for our visit to Eindhoven was to see the GLOW, light arts festival. It happens every year in November and gathers light artists from around the world. The light installations are connected by a one-way walking route of about 6km. We didn’t do the full route with the kids but the route conveniently has a few twists in its shape so you can shortcut the route. We dropped our kids and one adult off at the hotel when they got tired and the other adults continued on the route. We used two single strollers and the Big Little walked. This gave us the maximum flexibility with crowds and route.
The most impressive piece was the light projection onto St. Catherine’s Church.
The kids adored running around an open square with spot lights dancing to music all over the square. The square was filled with kids running around.
You could also lay on the ground and watch the lights dance in the sky.
The kids’ favorite was the “Floating Countries” a project that had Eindhoven elementary schools create floating islands that are illuminated by black lights.
We also enjoyed an old warehouse that was lit with candles and had a reflecting pool in the middle. You could purchase candles to benefit a charity and make a wish in this “wish house.”
Jeff and my parents also went to the Light Show at Philips Stadium. They found it to be weird. The stage and screen were too far away from the seating and the show was underwhelming. You’d expect more of a light show during GLOW but instead the show contained loads of street dancing (too far away to see). Also, the music intentionally included long bouts of static and sounds like chalkboard scratching – two things that offend most ears.
Overall we loved our visit to Eindhoven. One night mini breaks give you the chance to see a city from dusk to dawn. We loved getting to view GLOW and only wish we could have fit in the Van Gogh Bicycle Path.
If you go to Eindhoven by car consider stopping at Prehistorisch Dorp, a recreated medieval town where kids can participate in a number of activities and visit with animals (Museumkaart). We stopped here on a previous visit to the city.
Whatever you end up doing we hope you enjoy Eindhoven.
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