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Famed for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, Amsterdam hosts more than 300 festivals and events annually. With an agenda spanning all tastes and genres, the range of festivals attracts visitors from across the globe. No matter what time of the year, you will find some event or festival happening in the capital of Netherlands. Cruising along the 7th-century Golden Age canals, sure is the most undertaken thing here, but how cool an idea is it to be a part of a pulsating and sensational festival or event?! Here we bring to you some wonderful festivals and events to attend in Amsterdam!
It is a known fact that dance and music are big in Amsterdam. Stretching from the beginning of summer to the end of autumn, the dance and music festivals are one of the top propagandas for things to do in Amsterdam tourism. With a great lineup of world-famous DJ’s, the Valtifest is the wild child of Amsterdam's summer festival. With a loaded lineup playing dance, electro, thumping house, dubstep, hip-hop and punk, Valitfest literally rocks the NDSM Wharf in Amsterdam! Take some time out from the dancing with entertaining sideshows and performance artists, and even some great fashion shows. 909 Festival, Het Lente Kabinet, Chateau Festival are some other great festivals to be part of.
When does it happen: September
2. Spook out at the Amsterdam Halloween Festival
Providing tourists and locals their Halloween fix since 2000, Amsterdam Halloween Festival is widely awaited. The best part it’s not a day’s event, but the Amsterdam Spook feels you, and so the event goes on for not a day or two but an entire bloody (literally!) week! A packed week, that this one is, expect some great Halloween action in the form of a long listed events. An all-night horror movie marathon in the beautiful Pathé Tuschinski, an especially frightful edition of the Friday Night Skate roller-skates, themed dinner at a mysterious place, the adults undoubtedly have some great things to be excited about. The kids, you ask? They don’t miss out on anything either with a kid's party and movie event in collaboration with Cinekid, everyone is taken care of! Freakish décor, sweet treats, an evilicious line-up of Dutch and international artists, make-up workshops, theater troupes, DJs, VJs and naturally, a fully costumed, fun crowd await to spook you out!
When does it happen: October
3. Mark the official start of Amsterdam’s festive season at the Arrival of Sinterklaas
Facsimileing Santa Claus, ‘Sinterklaas’ or Saint Nicholas is actually very Dutch, dotted with love by children and adults alike. The city’s official festive season is traditionally marked in mid-November as Sinterklaas arrives from his home in Spain . Making the event even more joyous is him bringing gifts and presents for children. The following day of his arrival witnesses a colorful parade through Amsterdam. The arrival particularly includes a boat parade and horse parade through the city and children lining Sint and his friends’ routes to wave at them as they are showered with sweets and candies. The celebration continues throughout half of November until ain celebration, marked on 5th of December.
When does it happen: November
4. Tis the season to be jolly at the Classical Christmas
Fancy classical music from some of Europe's finest musicians? Amsterdam is the place to be around Christmas! A fantastic collection of classical and choral concerts brings Amsterdam alive in this merry season. From churches to the Royal Concertgebouw chambers, intimate and not-so-intimate, Amsterdam is abuzz with Christmas musicals and events. Some of the best events are - John Adams’ new Messiah, KCOV Excelsior sings Bach's Christmas Oratorio, Christmas Classics at the Movies, Christmas Baroque: Bach and Vivaldi, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra: Christmas Concert amongst a ton of others.
An international equestrian event, the Jumping Amsterdam an annual highlight on the Dutch equestrian calendar. Held at the RAI Amsterdam, this event draws the best riders from across the globe, even including Olympic champions. Including show jumping and dressage competitions, this event also has some great culinary delights at various bars and restaurants, complete with some spectacular shows and entertainment.
When does it happen: January
6. 24H to enjoy the best of Amsterdam
If you wish to do something beyond the conventional touristy sightseeing et al, the 24H is your answer. Giving you the opportunity to see the best Amsterdam has to it, Throughout the north, south, east or west of this city, 24H Oost is perhaps one of the most off-beaten Amsterdam events. What yo on this event? Big and small heroes going about their lives, upholding historic traditions, blazing a trail with new ideas, educating, entertaining and brightening up the lives of the everyday Amsterdammers around them. Get your hands busy at some superb workshops, along with guided tours, performances, food and drink, music and parties this event has everything! Conveniently held around Valentine’s day, the couples especially are in for a treat with midnight movie screening, pizza making workshops, and an all-out pillow fight! Now come on, you possibly can’t miss this event while in Amsterdam (around February, of course.)
As the day begins to get longer, and spring draws on, the flowers in Amsterdam bloom in all their glory. Given their reknownity, this is the festivals in Amsterdam you could witness. So, every spring Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse is like a rainbow on ground, accurately with flowers of all colors blooming to into the horizon. Open from March to May, also the best time to visit Amsterdam, this festival is a feast to your senses. Flower shows, the themed pavilion, and statues throughout the garden are great to delight over. The kids can play some treasure hunt or be kept busy at the playground, zoo or the hedge maze. Want a little more? Hire a bike and explore the surrounding fields or take a boat cruise. Holland Heritage Weekend, Flower Parade and the Romance at Keukenhof are some other highlights of this festival at the Keukenhof Gardens.
Showcasing some ground-breaking films from Asia, the CinemAsia Festival is currently in its 9th edition in Amsterdam. Your chance to watch some great critically acclaimed and very popular movies, this festival presents a fuller picture of contemporary Asian cinema. From the likes of Hollywood hopefuls to orphaned children and Himalayan quests for God to lip-synching Filipino drag queen, surprise yourself at this one-of-its-kind film festival.
When does it happen: April
9. Revere the city on the Remembrance & Liberation Day in Amsterdam
Joining the rest of Netherlands on 4th May, Amsterdam pauses to respect its victims and fallen soldiers of World War II, along with recent military conflicts and peacekeeping operations. Come 5th May and the city hits the streets to celebrate their freedom on Liberation Day. A lovely sight to behold!
When does it happen: May
10. Taste of Amsterdam Food lovers’ Mecca
Taking over Amstel Park , Taste of Amsterdam is an annual four-day delight to simply eat, drink and get entertained! Indulge in some crazy lip-smacking fair, brought to you by Amsterdam’s top chefs from leading restaurants. This al fresco affair is certain to be a lifetime memory for you, given its zeal and grandeur. Don’t miss to get a peek-a-boo for some live cook-offs between chefs and even getting your hands on some cooking, kids’ workshops, wine-tasting, and the best part the farmers’ market!
With summer festivals in fool bloom, July is pretty abuzz with some spectacular festivals and events. The Gay Pride is one such event, devoted towards the equality for the gay, lesbian, transgender and intersex communities. This is a unique, huge international party you could ever experience. Open for all, Amsterdam Gay Pride transforms the city to a vibrant rainbow of events in gay and straight venues alike, with dance parties, film screenings, sporting events, debates, exhibitions and much more! A once in a lifetime kind of event, you will cherish this memory forever.
One of the cultural highlights of the Amsterdam summer, Grachten festival (Canal Festival) is held annually in August on and around Amsterdam’s canals. Being a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city’s canal belt hosts a ten-day festival classical music across beautiful locations. The Canal festival in Amsterdam, Prinsengracht Concert and the Young musical talents shine are the highlights of this festival.
When does it happen: August
Amsterdam is abuzz with events and festivals throughout the year, and there is something for everyone. As if you needed more reasons to visit this brilliant place, here are a few more!