Festivals and Annual Amsterdam Events
Almost every week a cultural event or a festival opens in Amsterdam. Many events are celebration of long historical traditions. The Dutch carefully conserve their customs and preserve continuity of their social life. Many of the cultural events are held with an English-speaking public in mind. There are also smaller events listed in our What's On in Amsterdam section for each month. Additionally there are events out of Amsterdam which are worth the travel, we also add these to the list. You can also have a look at our Dutch holidays page.
The most important event each spring is the King’s Birthday (April 27), a street party and free market which usually takes 2 days of celebrations. Many young people arrive to Amsterdam for these festivities and usually the whole Old Town is closed for the car traffic on that day. At the end of May usually the Holland Festival begins, an important artistic event seeking to connect low and high culture, presenting new important works in the fields of music, theater, opera, ballet and visual arts.
Summer is the time of open air festivals, theatre and concerts with Grachtenfestival and its life music concerts at the city canals as the most important event. Another unique festival of events is the festival of the gay culture called Gay Pride, ending with the festive carnival-like parade of boats through the canals.
After each summer, Amsterdam is vibrating with cultural events - books and antique markets, concerts, film festivals and museum events. Probably the most important of the autumn is IDFA, an International Documentary Film Festival beginning each year in the middle of November. Museum Night is another attractive event always taking place in November. Arrival of Saint Nicholas, usually in mid-November, bringing sweets and gifts to children in a festive parade through the city signals approaching Christmas.
Most quiet of the seasons except for the festive New Year Eve celebrations, drawing young joyful crowd on the Dam Square and the Prinsengracht. Winter in Amsterdam is the best time to visit museums, go to the Concertgebouw concert or International Fashion Week show. And while it is cold outside and the days are shorter, there are skating ridges open on the Leidseplein and Museumplein.In the evening the light sculptures of the Amsterdam Light Festival add attraction to walks in the Old Town.