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Amsterdam, capital of my home country of The Netherlands, is a very popular tourist destination. With its multi-cultural population, beautiful architecture and lovely canals, it’s a great city to just stroll around in. And with several world famous museums, lovely parks, great restaurants, good shopping and a wide selection of hotels it really has something to offer to everyone.

Amsterdam is also a city with a lot going on: numerous very popular, and some even world famous, events take place in Amsterdam every year.

These are 10 of the best annual events in Amsterdam:

1. Light Festival – Amsterdam City Center

When: Early December until late January

The Amsterdam Light Festival is an annual light art festival in Amsterdam. Artists, architects and (light) designers from all over the world bring their light artworks and installations alive during the festival. The artworks are placed alongside two routes. Each route has their own theme and set of artworks.

We suggest admiring this spectacle at night, as light sculptures are put in place at different locations throughout the city center. You can walk this route or buy tickets for a tour by boat.

For more information: Amsterdamlightfestival.com



2. Christmas Markets – Throughout Amsterdam

When: Late November until early January

If you’re looking to do some Christmas shopping, are craving a hot chocolate or are up for some ice-skating, the Christmas markets are the place to be! Amsterdam hosts various Christmas markets throughout the city, several ice rinks and even an ice sculpture festival!

For more information about the different Christmas markets: IAmsterdam.com

3. Tulip Day – Picking Garden on Dam Square

When: January 21st

Tulip day? Yes, it’s real! the Dutch are known worldwide for their tulips and Tulip Day is a major happening in Amsterdam!

Every year, on the third Saturday of January, Dutch tulip growers build a huge garden with approximately 200,000 tulips on Dam Square. The biggest garden of Amsterdam transforms Dam Square into a sea of color, where thousands of people come to pick a free bouquet of flowers. This is the official kick-off of tulip season in The Netherlands.
In addition to the garden the tulip growers organize countless surprises and promotions.

For more information: Holland.com

4. Chinese New Year – Zeedijk

Amsterdam event: Chinese New Year

source: Amster Daily

When: January 28

Chinese New Year is a big celebration in Amsterdam every year. It takes place near Nieuwmarkt (China Town) and is quite a show. With fireworks, dragon dances, and delicious food it’s well worth a visit!

For more information: Amsterdam.org

5. Amsterdam Gay Pride – Throughout Amsterdam

Amsterdam events: gay price

source: A van Beem

When: Late July until early August

The Amsterdam Gay Pride is probably the most well known event internationally. The festival attracts several hundred-thousand visitors each year and is one of the largest publicly held annual events in the Netherlands. It usually spans a week with various activities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, including exhibitions, cultural and sport events. There are also many street parties and the whole event is very inclusive, visited by many people from all walks of life. The highlight of the festival is the Canal Parade, a parade of boats of large variety on the first Saturday of August.

For more information: Amsterdamgaypride.nl



6. Kings Day – Throughout Amsterdam

Amsterdam events: kings day

source: Mrs Mokum

When: April 27th

Every year about a million people spill into the streets and onto the canals of Amsterdam, largely dressed in Orange, making this one of the world’s biggest street parties.

King’s Day is a national holiday during which Dutch people celebrate King Willem Alexander’s birthday. Throughout Amsterdam (and many other Dutch cities) you will find live music, street vendors, outdoor bars and A LOT of people out to party!
Be careful that you don’t get the dates mixed up with the previous celebration of Queen’s Day (April 30).

For more information: IAmsterdam.com

7. Vondelpark Open-Air Theater

When: Early May until late September

Vondelpark is the famous park in the Centre of Amsterdam. In summer it’s a hot spot for both tourists and locals to walk, cycle or just relax on the grass with some food and a drink. In the middle of this park you find the open-air theater. During this event the Vondelpark Theater will be used for all sorts of (free) shows for all ages.

For more information and upcoming shows: Openluchttheater.nl

8. The Open Garden Days – Throughout Amsterdam

When: Third weekend of June

Hidden behind the stately façades of the houses along Amsterdam’s canals lie some of the city’s best-kept secrets: pristine private gardens. During this annual event around 30 gardens are opened to the public. You do need to buy a ticket, but this will grant you access to all participating gardens. Optionally you can catch a special canal boat that will take you from one garden to another.

For more information: Opentuinendagen.nl

9. Sail Amsterdam (2020)

Best Amsterdam event: Sail Amsterdam

source: SJ de Waard

When: August 2020

This isn’t an annual event, as it takes place every five years. But it still really deserved a mention in this list. For six days Amsterdam becomes an exhibit of historical ships. You can get a great view when you exit Amsterdam Central Station towards the IJ-side. Around 20 large ships will sail through the Amsterdam harbor, along with many other smaller sailboats and motorboats.

For more information: Sail Amsterdam

10. Heritage Day (Open Monumentendag) – Throughout The Netherlands

When: The second weekend of September

For two days during this event, monumental buildings in Amsterdam are open to the public. This is the only chance you get to take a look inside luxury canal houses, castles, palaces, old farmhouses and even forgotten factories. Around 4,000 historical buildings and sites are accessible during this event, throughout The Netherlands.

For more information: openmonumentendag.nl

Ready to travel?

If you want to see more of Europe, traveling by train is the way to go: it’s convenient, reliable and affordable. Visit Raileurope.com for available rail passes throughout Europe and special deals.

Check out FareDepot.com for the cheapest flights and best hotels. Wherever you are traveling from, they have tons of discounted airline tickets! They also have an easy to use app if you prefer to check them out on your phone.
Use Promo code SAVE10 to get a discount when you book!

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top 10 events in Amsterdam

This list was created with the kind help of Perfect Visit. Perfect Visit offers serviced apartments in Amsterdam and wants to make sure that your stay is perfect.

This post contains an affiliate link. When you make a purchase using this link it helps support Spend Life Traveling so that we can continue publishing content for you. Thanks!

Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing (Atozmarketing.eu).
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this blog to share some of my international experiences and travel tips.

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