10 Amsterdam Events

Amsterdam is host to so many events that it seems there is a celebration for every occasion and every interest.  Some are old traditions, some more recently inaugurated, but any time of the year you are sure to catch at least one of these Amsterdam events.

Amsterdam events

Amsterdam by twicepic

The Grachtenfestival

If you plan to visit this summer, don’t miss the Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival) happening for nine days in August, when more than 70 classical music concerts will be performed in various outstanding venues around the city.  From private gardens and rooftops to well known spots such as the Anne Frank House and the Westerkerk, it culminates on a huge pontoon stage in front of the Pulitzer Hotel.  Boats pack the canals and spectators line the banks and bridges of the canals to listen to the fabulous open-air performances by Europe’s best musicians.  Grachtenfestival also encourages new talent, with some of the biggest stars offering help and advice to young performers.


amsterdam events

Westerkerk by stevecadman

Queens Day Celebration

Amsterdam’s Queensday celebration is probably the biggest party in the Netherlands.  Every year on 30 April the city turns orange and goes wild, ostensibly to celebrate the Queen’s birthday, but really just a great excuse to party hearty. Hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the city and it becomes vastly overcrowded, raucous and a whole lot of fun.  The party starts about midnight on the day before, and at 6:00 a.m. the ‘free market’ begins.  This is when everybody sells everything for next to nothing or close enough, and the best suggestions are to pace yourself with the beer drinking and if you have a crowd phobia, stay home!

amsterdam events

Street performer on the Queen’s birthday by hans s

Fantastic Film Festival

What began in 1984 as a “Weekend of Terror” has turned into a week long Fantastic Film Festival, truly a smorgasbord of horror, fantasy and science fiction, thrillers and animation from the Netherlands and around the world.  The focus is on imagination and quality, whether it’s a ‘popcorn thriller’ or high tech animae.  It’s also a sounding board for aspiring artists, and offers free classes and symposiums to the public.  If you’re enthralled by the fantastic arts, this is where you can learn how they are created and meet the owners of the imaginations behind them.

amsterdam events

Zombie at a Fantastic Film Festival by Toni Villaro

Cannabis Cup

If you book early you can attend the Cannabis Cup, a five-day event taking place this year from November 21 to 25, 2011.  This is the “almost infamous” celebration of marijuana and all its wonders.  Last year Thomas “King” Forcada, founder of High Times magazine, was inducted into the Counterculture Hall of Fame, so what else do you need to know?

amsterdam events

Cannabis by spotreporting

Julidans Modern Dance Festival

The Julidans Modern Dance Festival has been running in early July for the last 21 years.  You can see performers from as far afield as the Middle East, North Africa and China. “Cutting Edge” and “Daring” are some of the words used to describe the event, and attendees get the chance to experience some of the best choreography in the world as well as meet the performers and dine with the choreographers. This events is featured in our “25 Fab Festivals in Europe” post.

amsterdam events

Contemporary dance by gabrielsaldana

Realisme Art Fair

Through the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, Dutch painters were very famous. In the middle of the 20th century, the realism movement began introducing figurative and mysterious scenes into art. In order to continue the realism tradition, an art fair called Realisme is held each year in mid-January that includes art showcases, free lectures, and workshops.

amsterdam events

Realism by Puppy Zwolle

5 Days Off

This electronic music festival takes place every July and brings together young musicians from all over Europe and the US. 5 Days Off is an important cultural meeting that gives people five whole days of clubbing, live shows, art instalments, electronic music videos, experimental films, and performances.

amsterdam events

Amsterdam nightlife by japrea

Amsterdam Roots Festival

The Amsterdam Roots festival takes place every summer, presenting an array of music from the globe and non-Western cultural showcases. With over a week of performances and workshops, the festival has been known to attract over 50,000 attendees. The highlight of the festival is the free Roots Open Air, which includes five stages offering a mix of music and productions from various ethnic backgrounds.

amsterdam events

Amsterdam Roots Festival by bartvanpoll

Comedytrain International Festival

The Comedytrain International Festival happens annually and features the very best in English standup comedy. Organized by the Toomler Comedy Cafe, comedians from all over the globe are represented, such as Adam Hills from Australia, Eddie Bannon from Ireland, Paul Provenza from the United States, and Ron Vaudry from Canada. Be prepared to laugh harder than you ever have before.

amsterdam events

Stand up comedy at Toomler Comedy Cafe by Sebastiaan ter Burg

Amsterdam International Fashion Week

The Amsterdam International Fashion Week takes place twice each year and showcases a series of public fashion shows, mainly put on by Dutch and Belgium designers. Many of the events are free, and can give visitors a look into the world of fashion for the new generation and New Luxury market for people who want something other than big brand names.

amsterdam events

Amsterdam Fashion Week by Guido van Nispen

More Tips on Things to do in Amsterdam

We’ve lots more tips for what to do in Amsterdam on Europe a la Carte.

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