Rob Bults is a Zwolle native

'Zwolle is a city of beauty'

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Rob Bults is director and artistic director of Zwolle Unlimited. He and his team at Top of the Hill coordinate the program of Winters Zwolle and organize the "midwinter ghost tour" Wodan and the Death Army. Thus grows the list of events Bults has organized over the past 35 years. "Zwolle is a city of beauty. Art and music make a city more beautiful and I think that's important. When you surround yourself with beauty, you become a more beautiful person yourself," says the music organizer.

Photo: Finn Volk

"I was born in Hellendoorn. When I worked in psychiatry, I traveled all over the country for a while. Eventually I got into a job at the former psychiatric hospital Sint Franciscushof in Raalte. Then, 35 years ago already, I moved to Zwolle. Not far from Hellendoorn and at the same time far enough from it. In that same period I started my band Muppetstuff. And for that Zwolle was a perfect location. Within an hour you are in most of the Netherlands. When we could earn a living with the music, I stopped working in psychiatry. Meanwhile, I was rooted in Zwolle.

Musically rich city

I really like the fact that Zwolle is still a little bit of a village. You quickly get to know people here. That's why collaborations get off the ground easily. Zwolle is a city where networking really works. People from Zwolle are also loyal, I think. They keep appointments and don't let people down easily. That is also a village characteristic that really appeals to me. Apart from that, Zwolle is a creative and musically very rich city. That too made me feel at home here from the very first moment.

Finn Volk
Finn Volk


Through my network in Zwolle I rolled into organizing events. Also because early on I had the idea that at 55 I wouldn't want to go out with the guitar four nights a week anymore. Then we started Xplosief, a cultural education company, with which we organized activities for Niek van der Sprong and worked creatively with young people, among other things. Together with my wife Kitty, I also chase the art of storytelling with De Verhalenboot. Just as food and drink are food for the body, story is for the soul.

Internationally in demand

The Story Boat is located on the Thorbeckegracht. And that is absolutely the most beautiful street in Zwolle. Although it is always busy along the canal, I experience a sense of peace and freedom there. That also has to do with the water. Water keeps you literally and figuratively in motion. If the water level changes, you feel it. No day is the same on a boat. For me, the Thorbeckegracht is also a bit of a symbol for the development of Zwolle. I am amazed every day at how many different languages I hear on the quay. Zwolle is really in demand internationally.

A city of cooperation

That Zwolle is a city of cooperation is also evident in the organization of the Midwinter Ghost Tour. More than a hundred amateurs are providing the theater and storytelling. That's relatively easy to get together here. On Dec. 17 and 18, they will tell and perform a story from Norse mythology. A wolf wants to eat the sun so it will be dark on earth forever. But of course we won't let that happen....

Photo: Finn Volk
Photo: Finn Volk

The future

I am very curious about what Zwolle will look like in the future. Recently, for example, I was at a meeting about the North, the area in which I happen to live and work. Then you notice that creativity and art are also involved in the plans. There too you see that Zwolle is growing. I think we need to transfer more of that potential to young people. We must offer them new opportunities after those difficult corona years. I also want to dedicate myself more to this. In the spring, for example, we organize children's festival Nemia together with young people. Wonderful to see their commitment. Then again you see how many opportunities Zwolle offers."

The Top 3 by Rob Bults

  • "Our Storyboat is located in the Stadsgracht. It is not an official street name, but we speak of Pelserkade these days. Under that name we cooperate with three other boats and the Pelser Tower. The quay is also a wonderful strolling spot for Zwolle residents and visitors to the city."
  • "The Ter Pelkwijkpark is one of the most beautiful parts of Zwolle. On nice days you can lie there in the grass and look out over the canal. It is also a very suitable location for events."
  • "A favorite pub in Zwolle is De Kuiperij on the Voorstraat. A pub that means a lot to Zwolle musicians. It is also a gathering place for creative people."

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