Students flock together on the corner of the Grote Markt and Oosterstraat after the pubs and clubs have closed.

Students flock to the Poelestraat

Thursday night’s alright for partying

Students flock together on the corner of the Grote Markt and Oosterstraat after the pubs and clubs have closed.
You can pretty much set your calendar by it: every Thursday night, students form long lines outside the clubs, drunkenly roam the streets, and block snack bar Hoek. But what’s so special about Thursday that they have to go out that particular night?
21 December om 11:23 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 21 December 2022
om 15:20 uur.
December 21 at 11:23 AM.
Last modified on December 21, 2022
at 15:20 PM.
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Door Tim van de Vendel

21 December om 11:23 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 21 December 2022
om 15:20 uur.
Avatar photo

By Tim van de Vendel

December 21 at 11:23 AM.
Last modified on December 21, 2022
at 15:20 PM.
Avatar photo

Tim van de Vendel

It’s been nearly twenty-five years since Annemarie van Asselt studied Dutch in Groningen. But she can still remember: Thursday was the night to go out. ‘That was the best night, because everyone was out on the town’, she says. ‘There was a lot to do.’

Not that she never went out on different days. Sometimes, she’d go out on Wednesday. ‘But there weren’t as many people around, which made it less fun. On Friday and Saturday, all the hicks came into town.’

In 2022, law student Simone Slijkhuis also goes out on Thursday. Sometimes, the pubs are a little too full for her liking, ‘but you can always find a place with a nice atmosphere. As long as you’re with a good group, everything turns out great.’


It’s been the same for decades: students go out on Thursday, and Friday and Saturday are for the ‘hicks’. But why is that? 

Stefan Pieters, who studied social geography in Groningen thirty years ago, thinks he knows. ‘The first few years, I would go home to my parents on the weekend. That meant Thursday was the last day of the week.’

Thursday was the last day of the week

Besides that, studying and sports were done from Monday until Wednesday. ‘Thursday was the start of the weekend’, he says. ‘That meant you could still do stuff on Friday, provided you weren’t massively hungover. But that was kind of a bonus day.’

This is still the way things are done, confirms spatial planning and design student Flint Verbeek. ‘Many people go back home to their parents on Friday, so we go out one last time on Thursday to close out the week’, he says. 


He prefers Tuesday night, though: Thursdays are too busy for his taste. ‘That’s not cool, because then there’s isn’t enough room to dance.’  

However, Thursday isn’t a popular night just because students leave town on Friday. It’s also the practical result of a long-standing student tradition. 

At many associations, Monday is the day on which students have committee meetings or dinner with their year club. ‘Tuesday has been the day for having dinner with your roommates for years, and Wednesday is when student associations invite everyone for drinks’, explains Vindicat rector Adriaan Zoetmulder. ‘Thursday is kind of a day off for our members.’

In other words: the perfect night to paint the town. 

It also allows students to be ‘among their own kind’, says Jan Hoeve, who owns pubs De Brouwerij en De Negende Cirkel. ‘People with jobs work during the week, they have to be up at eight in the morning.’ Students can just skip a class if they don’t feel like going. 

But Hoeve also points to students going home to their parents. ‘They need mum and dad to do their laundry for them.’

Spread out

Night mayor Merlijn Poolman, the link between the public, the nightlife’s professionals, and the city, would like it if students spread out their nocturnal activities. 

‘Students are a bit more open-minded when it comes to new or alternative events’, he says, But because they all show up on Thursday, the hospitality business isn’t as keen to cater to them. 

Here, the cut-off is essentially at twenty-five years old 

After all, niche businesses can’t survive on attracting customers just one day a week. Students also party less and less on other nights, especially since the loans system was introduced in 2015. 

The year before that, the minimum drinking age had been raised from sixteen to eighteen, and shortly after that, smoking lounges were banned. ‘Everyone was affected by that, from the Palace to Paradigm’, says Poolman.


As a result, everything is the same. Before the new rules, live music was a staple of the Groningen nightlife, but it’s almost completely disappeared. Many places play the same Top 40 hits. ‘Not that everything has to be weird and alternative, but we almost have nothing edgy left.’

If the nightlife crowd were spread out more across the days of the week, this could change, Poolman thinks. ‘I think it would be fun to be around other demographics when you go out. It’s good for people’s personal development to talk to each other.’

In other countries or even in the Randstad, people in their fifties still go out at night, he says. ‘Here, the cut-off is essentially at twenty-five years old.’ That’s a shame, he says, because nightlife should be fun for everyone: from student to Stadjer, no matter their age.

The city is aware of this issue, and together they’ve been working on initiatives, such as a discount on rent for business owners who add something new to the nightlife scene, says Poolman. ‘It’s a lengthy process, but it’s not unthinkable that it will become a reality.’ 

Better atmosphere

Hoeve has his doubts. ‘People aren’t just leaving their roommate dinners or association’s drinks behind to go into town. Thursday night student night evolved organically, you can’t mess with that just to get more people out and about.’

Besides, many students think the atmosphere is better on Thursdays. ‘There’s a different group of people on the other days. Fewer students, and people are rowdier’, says Flint. 

As a woman, I feel less safe on Fridays and Saturdays

‘As a woman, I feel less safe on Fridays and Saturdays, but hardly ever on Thursdays’, says Spanish physics student Elsa Herranz. She thinks it’s because there are more older people out and about on the weekend. ‘But it’s also possible that the chance of something bad happening is increased by the larger number of people.’

‘In Spain, students also go out on Thursday, so I just kept doing that’, she says. Occasionally, she’ll go out on Friday, for example when she has class that day. ‘But never on Saturday. Saturday is the worst.’ 


But there does seem to be a change slowly happening, say both Poolman and Hoeve. While students won’t be found on the weekend any time soon, another weekday appears to be gaining in popularity. 

‘A lot of business owners in the Poelestraat and Peperstraat have told me that Wednesdays are busier than Thursdays sometimes’, says Poolman. ‘Lines everywhere and the Poelestraat full of people.’

Hoeve has seen this, too. ‘To be honest, we’re busy all week, but Wednesday and Thursday are peak nights. But it’s not like Thursdays are less busy because students started going out on Wednesday. Both nights are busy now.’