Festivals in Amsterdam

A quick glance at Amsterdam’s holiday calendar might give you the impression that the city is always celebrating something – and that’s not far from the truth.

Especially during the warmer months, there are music, film, and theatre festivals as well as dance parties, art exhibits, parades, and open-air movies.

Even if you aren’t traveling to Amsterdam specifically for a particular festival, it doesn’t hurt to check the calendar to see what’s going on when you’ll be in the city.

Here are a few of the bigger festivals in Amsterdam throughout the year.

  • New Year’s Eve (December) – Amsterdam is one of the most popular cities in Europe in which to celebrate the dawn of a new year, especially if you like your New Year parties on the noisy and boisterous side. There are fireworks that go off for a few days, culminating in the big displays on the night of December 31st in different parts of the city.
  • Queen’s Day (April) – This is Amsterdam’s biggest annual party, and it’s another excuse for the extreme party-people in the city to have their fun. There are parties starting the night before, concerts throughout the city, and everyone’s on foot (public transportation is shut down for the day).
  • Holland Festival (June) – The Holland Festival runs throughout most of the month of June and features performances of music, film, dance, and theatre in different locations throughout the city.
  • De Parade (August) – While “De Parade” literally means simply “the parade,” this much-beloved theatre festival is much more than just a parade. The traveling festival visits several cities throughout the Netherlands, stopping in Amsterdam for just over two weeks at the end of its tour.
  • Canal Pride Parade (August) – During the week-long Gay Pride Festival in Amsterdam, the Canal Pride Parade is the main event. It takes about three hours for the boats to cover the whole parade route, and it’s some of the best people-watching you’ll ever get to do.
  • Amsterdam Dance Event (October) – The nightclub-rich city of Amsterdam doesn’t limit its dancing shoes to just the few days’ worth of the Amsterdam Dance Event each year, but this is definitely when the clubs are at their most fun. Each participating club brings in an excellent array of musical acts, and there’s even a 2-day music conference before the festival begins.

Here’s a more complete list of the current Amsterdam holiday calendar, and for the most up-to-date listings of every festival and event in the city (searchable by month and category) head for the festivals page on the iAmsterdam site.

photo by passer-by