The scenery. The art. The world-famous landmarks. There are plenty of reasons to visit Amsterdam at any point in the year. But there are certain times when the capital of the Netherlands gets really festive.
Holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween are great examples of what we’re talking about; the whole city transforms into a completely different place each December, April, and October. But, there are also quite a few holidays only celebrated in the Netherlands. These are the sorts of events that’ll leave a lasting impression on you for years to come.
Today, we’re going to show you the top festivals and events in Amsterdam. We’ll spotlight everything from music festivals to holiday-themed events. There really aren’t any parties like an Amsterdam party, because some Amsterdam parties last for weeks or even months! Stow your luggage and bags in a safe place, then have a ball at the following festivals and events.
Amsterdam Light Festival
The Amsterdam Light Festival is a sight for sore eyes; this city-wide event showcases 30 breathtaking works of art submitted by artists from around the globe. Sculptures, statues, and neon signs are posted throughout the city. Respected artistic icons like Ai Weiwei and Nicole Banowetz have participated in previous festivals, so just imagine what kinds of designs you might see!
ALE is held during the Winter; the festivities start in November and end in January. If you visit Amsterdam between those months, there’s a good chance that you can see this amazing festival for yourself.
Theatre-lovers are in for a treat. The Holland Festival spotlights some of the best live productions in the Netherlands. The Holland Festival has been around since 1947 at least. Audiences can look forward to seeing:
- Breathtaking ballet performances
- Symphonies, orchestras, and choirs
- Classic plays and musicals
- Contemporary multimedia shows
The Holland Festival begins and ends in June. If you’re a fan of performing arts, you won’t want to miss this spectacular event. To see which productions are scheduled each year, visit the Holland Festival’s main website.
Remembrance Day and Liberation Day
Remembrance Day and Liberation Day are two culturally significant events that go hand in hand. The first honors the Netherlands’ deceased soldiers, while the second celebrates the Netherland’s triumphs in WWII.
Remembrance Day is held each year on May 4th; all of Amsterdam enters a state of reflection and reverence for the fallen. The next day, on May 5th, Amsterdam celebrates the day that Nazi forces were repelled from the Netherlands. If you’re visiting during May 4th or May 5th, you’re more than welcome to participate. Even if you aren’t of Dutch descent, you can still respectfully join in on the festivities.
A good king is respected by his people, but a great king is loved by them. King Willem-Alexander fits the latter description; he’s so adored that everyone in the Netherlands comes together each year to celebrate his birthday on King’s Day. This carnival takes place each year on April 27th.
All workers get the day off to partake in the festivities. The streets of Amsterdam get flooded with parades and party-goers dressed in orange. Tompouces are the treat of choice for King’s Day. If you’ve never had one before, you will if you visit Amsterdam on April 27th.
SAIL Amsterdam is an annual boating event where ships from around the world dock in the city’s eastern harbor. We’re talking about “tall ships,” the sorts of vessels you might’ve only seen in paintings before.
In mid-August, Amsterdam’s eastern harbor looks like a set from the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Just laying your eyes on these vessels will leave an impression that’ll last a lifetime. Stop by SAIL Amsterdam’s website to learn more about this event.
Amsterdam Dance Event
Thousands of world-famous artists. Hundreds of electrifying clubs. We could only be describing the Amsterdam Dance Event, better known as ADE. Each October, Amsterdam transforms into a city-sized nightclub. Here are just a few popular artists that frequent ADE:
- Seth Troxler
- Ricardo Villalobos
- David Guetta
- Martin Garrix
- Nina Kraviz
- Jamie Jones
And more! Artists of all genres participate in ADE; alternative bands, metal groups, trance DJs – you name it, ADE has it. No lie, there’s probably more than 2,500 artists who participate in ADE each year. Hop on to ADE’s website to see who’s playing at which venues.
You can see it in the name, can’t you? Sin-ter-klaas. San-ta-Claus. Need we say more? Okay, we’ll give you the rundown on “the Legend of Sinterklaas.” Back in 343 AD, a Turkish clergyman named Saint Nicolaus traveled to Spain for a few years. Eventually, he made his way to Amsterdam – bringing literal boatloads of gifts along with him. Sinterklaas is essentially Jolly Old Saint Nick and the Pope rolled into one.
Ever since, the Dutch have cherished Sinterklaas as a beloved national icon. Sinterklaas had an assistant named “Black Peter” whose appearance unintentionally evoked Blackface. However, Black Peter was replaced with Chimney Peter in 2018. This was to ensure that people of all cultures could partake in this Dutch holiday without being disrespected.
New Year’s in Amsterdam
With so many exciting events taking place throughout the year, is it any surprise that Amsterdam would go out with a literal bang? No expense is spared when it’s New Year’s in Amsterdam. The sky is lit up with fireworks from every part of the city. Here are some of the best places to get a great view of the show:
- The Skylounge
- Floor 17
- Magere Burg
New Year’s in Amsterdam is always a celebration of epic proportions. Food trucks and food stands crop up all over the city. Beautiful ornaments dangle from trees. We’re telling you, this is one of the best ways to kick off the year.