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
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
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. King’s Day – Throughout Amsterdam
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 check out this local’s guide to King’s Day in Amsteredam
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)
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
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- Where to Stay in Amsterdam as a First Time Visitor
- 10 Towns Worth Visiting in The Netherlands That Aren’t Amsterdam
- Interview About Life in Amsterdam as an Expat
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This list of annual events in Amsterdam 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.
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