Amsterdam Events & FestivalsGo Dutch at the capital city’s greatest events
As any of Amsterdam’s proud residents will tell you, their effortlessly cool city is a joy to spend time in. A vibrant hub of culture, not to mention one of Europe’s most picturesque capitals – replete with waterways, bridges and charming old buildings – the Dutch capital attracts a diverse selection of tourists, from festival-goers and sports fanatics to art lovers and beach bums. To ponder the merits of the city’s museums, and the depth of its nightlife, which rivals just about every other European party locale, is to realise one thing: that Amsterdam makes an extremely appealing holiday destination.
With such a raft of attractions, it should come as no surprise that Amsterdam plays host to some utterly wonderful and unique festivals and events on an annual basis. Whether you want to indulge your tastebuds or simply dance the night away, time your holiday accordingly and your Dutch experience can be all that you desire.
Amsterdam's top five yearly events
Food festivals in Amsterdam: Restaurant Week
Definitely one for the foodies out there, Restaurant Week is in fact a ten-day period in March when top eateries across the city – and indeed the country – slash their prices dramatically in a bid to entice new customers. Typically you can enjoy a three-course meal at venues offering any number of gastronomic varieties for a knockdown fee of around €25; so be sure to sample as much as possible throughout your stay. You’ll find a list of participating restaurants online, while booking ahead is definitely advisable!
Fashion events in Amsterdam: International Fashion Week
In an industry dominated by the giants of Paris and Milan, most people may not even be aware that the Netherlands have their very own version of Fashion Week. For four days at the end of January and July, the glitterati of the clothing world descend upon the capital to show off their latest wares, with established and up-and-coming designers vying for attention. Primarily Dutch and Belgian names are represented, while the “Laundry Day” events, consisting of gallery exhibitions and parties, are the most popular occasions.
Royal celebrations in Amsterdam: King’s Day
Formerly known as Queen’s Day until the abdication of Queen Beatrix in 2013, this celebration of the monarchy is, truth be told, an excuse for the mother of all parties. This is by no means to its detriment, though; the city streets disappear under a sea of orange as some 700,000 revellers get involved. The highlights of the day are the free markets, where adults and children alike engage in spirited bartering for their personal goods; as this is going on, exuberant boat parties patrol the canals. Officially the event is held on the 27 April, but this has been brought forward by a day in 2014 to avoid any Sunday overindulgence.
Music festivals in Amsterdam: 5 Days Off
5 Days Off is without doubt Amsterdam’s biggest, loudest and most explosive festival. The March event is a rapturous celebration of all things electro, bringing some of the genre’s finest global acts to the city for four days of ear-shattering partying. Megastars such as Daft Punk, Jeff Mills and Dizzee Rascal are just some of the big names to have graced the three main venues. These days, there is more to the occasion than just music though, with a range of citywide art and cultural events taking place.
Cultural events in Amsterdam: Open Monuments Day
Not many cities compete with Amsterdam in terms of culture and heritage, so the powers-that-be must surely be applauded for the introduction of the fantastic Open Monuments Day. For two days in September each year since the late '80s, some of the city’s most intriguing buildings and boat houses, many of which are ordinarily inaccessible to the public, throw open their doors completely for locals and visitors to peruse. Best of all, it’s free. Not content with simply unlocking the gates, a multitude of venues even offer guided tours, musical events and interactive activities to their delighted visitors.