Amsterdam: Festivals by Season
Amsterdam is a city full of events and festivals. There is an astonishing number of around 3000 festivals and event through the year. Almost every week an event or a festival opens in Amsterdam. Many of these events are celebrations with long historical traditions. The Dutch carefully conserve their customs and preserve continuity of their social life. Since all the major events have visitors from all over the world, many of the cultural events are held with an English-speaking public in mind.
Since there is a great variety of event, we will try to give you a short description of the most interesting ones per season.
Of course, you are well aware that Holland is a Monarchy, so for the Dutch the most important event each spring is the King’s Birthday (April 27). It is usually a 2-day celebration that features a street party and a free market. There are many young people that arrive to Amsterdam from all over the world for these festivities, and this is why the whole Old Town is closed for the car traffic on that day.
Often at the end of May, an important artistic event takes place. It is the Holland Festival. This event is seeking to connect low and high culture. It presents new and significant works in the fields of music, theatre, opera, ballet and visual arts.
As summer comes, so comes the time of open air festivals, theatre, and concerts. The most significant event is the Grachtenfestival. It features live music concerts at the city canals and in the Historic centre of Amsterdam. It is a ten-day event that features various classical music concerts, on different stages.
The festival of gay culture called Gay Pride is another festival that takes place during summer. It is not unique to Amsterdam, but it is uniquely celebrated. It always ends with the festive, carnival-like parade of boats through the canals.
After each summer, as autumn slowly creeps in, Amsterdam is vibrating with cultural events. There are many books and antique markets, concerts, film festivals and museum events. One of the most important events of autumn is the IDFA. This is an International Documentary Film Festival which usually begins in the middle of November. Museum Night is another attractive event, always taking place in November. During the Museum Night, all museums and galleries open their doors to visitors. They frequently have some special exhibition or performance prepared for this event. This event started a fashion of Museum Nights that are taking place in most major cities across Europe.
In mid-November, the arrival of Saint Nicholas, brings sweets and gifts to children. There is a festive parade through the city, ant it marks the beginning of holiday season and the approaching of Christmas.
Some call the winter in Amsterdam the most quiet of the seasons, especially in regard to events and festivals. In spite of that, there are a few events that make it a worthwhile visit to Amsterdam in winter. First there is the New Year Eve celebration. Amsterdam is known amongst the European youth as a great party town, so many come here to celebrate the New Year. The young and joyful crowd gathers mostly on the Dam Square and the Prinsengracht. There are the traditional fireworks, and events are going on all across the city. There are traditional food stands and drink stands, and all in all, by personal experience, an exceptional experience. Trust us; the Dutch know how to have a good time.
Winter in Amsterdam is not only the best time to party, but it is also the best time to visit museums. You should also check out the Concertgebouw concert or the International Fashion Week show. While it is cold outside and the days are shorter, there are skating ridges open on the Leidseplein and Museumplein. In the evening, the light sculptures of the Amsterdam Light Festival add attraction to walks in the Old Town.
All year long, Amsterdam is an eventful and interesting place. Just pick your season and cruse through them all. Have fun!