What's On in Amsterdam December 2017
December sees the start of the festive holiday season in Amsterdam - with presents given out on Sinterklaas and then the run-up to Christmas and New Year. Let's take a look at what's on in the city for visitors, locals and expats...
Museums & Exhibitions in Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum – Reopened in April 2013 after 10 years of renovation, the Rijksmuseum's rich collection (including Rembrandt's Night Watch) is a must-see in Amsterdam. Johan Maelwael, major exhibition at the Philips Wing of one of the most successful Middle Age painters. Matthijs Maris, retrospective of the 19th century artist featuring many of his idiosyncratic and mysterious works. Both run 6 Oct 2017 to 7 Jan 2018.
Rijksmuseum Schiphol – Ten Dutch masterpiece paintings are on show on Holland Boulevard at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. Located in the newly refurbished zone between Lounges 2 and 3 (past security), the Rijksmuseum Schiphol is open 24 hours per day with free entry for passengers.
Van Gogh Museum – Popular museum with the world's largest collection of Vincent van Gogh paintings. The Dutch in Paris is an exhibition about the attractiveness of Paris to 19th century Dutch artists such as Jan Sluyters, Kees van Dongen, Piet Mondrian and Vincent van Gogh. Runs 13 Oct 2017 to 7 Jan 2018. Zeng Fanzhi | Van Gogh, exhibition from the contemporary Chinese artist who has specially created 5 new works inspired by Van Gogh. Runs 20 Oct 2017 to 25 Feb 2018.
Anne Frank House - The canal house on Amsterdam's Prinsengracht canal where Anne Frank wrote her famous teenage wartime diary whilst hiding from German occupation. The house and museum is open to visitors though pre-booking is highly recommended.
Hermitage Amsterdam – Showcases an exhibition every 6 months from the vast collection of the grand State Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia. Exhibition Dutch Masters runs between 7 Oct 2017 and 27 May 2018. Also at the Hermitage is the permanent exhibition Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age.
Outsider Art Museum – This museum at the Hermitage showcases extraordinary art by unconventional artists who have not been formally trained. New Masters introduces more than 70 works by 30 talented contemporary Outsider artists. This also includes Poignant Portraits by Dutch photographer Sander Troelstra who puts a face to these artists. Runs 4 Oct 2017 to 28 May 2018.
Nieuwe Kerk – We Have a Dream, major exhibition about three world-renowned 20th century figures - Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Running at the New Church on Dam Square 16 Sep 2017 to 4 Feb 2018.
Stedelijk – Amsterdam's main modern and contemporary art museum. Jean Dubuffet - The Deep End presents sculptures by the French artist, 1 Jul 2017 to 7 Jan 2018. Jump into the Future, Art from the 90's and 2000's, exhibition of contemporary art gifted by German collector Thomas Borgmann, runs 26 Nov 2017 to 8 Apr 2018. I Am a Native Foreigner exhibition explores different aspects of the migration theme. Runs 23 Sep 2017 to 3 Jun 2018. Canopy Keith Haring Returns to the Stedelijk, the restored velum canopy by the American grafitti artist is on display above the grand staircase. 12 Oct 2017 to 3 Jun 2018.
MOCO Museum – This new modern and contemporary art museum on Museumplein. Banksy: Laugh Now (includes Beanfield) runs until 31 May 2018; Roy Lichtenstein: Lasting Influence exhibition runs 3 Nov 2017 until 31 May 2018.
Amsterdam Museum – Govert Flinck & Ferdinand Bol, a comprehensive retrospective exhibition of the 17th century painters. In collaboration with Rembrandt House museum. Runs 13 Oct 2017 to 18 Feb 2018.
Rembrandt House – Ferdinand Bol and Govert Flinck, a comprehensive retrospective exhibition of the 17th century painters. In collaboration with the Amsterdam Museum. Runs 13 Oct 2017 to 18 Feb 2018.
Van Loon Museum – Ferdinand Bol, exhibition of 25 paintings from the 17th century Dutch Master who was the first resident of the house. Runs 6 Oct 2017 to 8 Jan 2018 at the museum coach house.
National Maritime Museum – The World According to Blaeu, Joan Blaeu's large map of the world (1648) will be on view 14 Apr until 31 Dec 2017. Game Changers | Maritime Innovations, features 25 of the most beautiful, exciting and strangest inventions in Dutch maritime history. Runs 6 Oct 2017 to 1 Jul 2018.
Tropenmuseum – Ethnographic museum featuring fascinating exhibitions on non-Western cultures. Rhythm & Roots - from blues to hip hop, a journey of musical styles which have roots in Africa. Runs until 7 Jan 2018. Aleppo, before and after exhibition about the war-torn Syrian city, running 20 Apr to 31 Dec 2017.
Allard Pierson Museum – Crossroads, exhibition featuring a wide variety of objects found all over Europe during the Dark Ages. Runs 15 Sep 2017 to 11 Feb 2018.
Huis Marseille – Landscape with Tree by Jamie Hakesworth, photo exhibition from the British analogue photographer runs 9 Sep to 3 Dec 2017. Ad van Denderen - Jerusalem Stone, six decades of photos of the West Bank by the Dutch photographer. Eddo Hartmann - Setting the Stage: Pyongyang, North Korea, Part 2, photos of everyday lives in North Korea. Both run 9 Dec 2017 to 4 Mar 2018.
FOAM – André Kertész – Mirroring Life, retrospective exhibition of the Hungarian avant-garde photographer, runs 15 Sep 2017 to 10 Jan 2018.
Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum) - Dancing with the Enemy, tells the gripping story of Rosie Glaser (1914-2000), a non-practicing Jewish woman who ran a dance school and survived concentration camps in World War 2. Runs 22 Nov 2017 to 8 Mar 2018.
National Holocaust Museum – The newly opened museum presents Tangible Memories from the Jewish Monument, exhibition of objects, photos and documents of people affected by the Holocaust. Opened 2 Sep 2016, ongoing until end 2019. Identity Cards and Forgeries, presenting the story of 2 people closely involved with wartime identity cards. Jacob Lentz (inventor of the cards) and Alice Cohn (forger). Runs 30 Oct 2017 to 4 Mar 2018.
Jewish Historical Museum – The Jewish Jukebox, a musical journey featuring 100 years of popular Jewish artists. Runs 30 Jun 2017 to 7 Jan 2018. Charlotte Salomon, exhibition of gouaches from the young Jewish artist who died during World War 2. Runs 20 Oct 2017 to 25 Mar 2018.
EYE Film – Apichatpong Weerasethakul & Cao Guimarães, exhibition of the prominent film directors runs 16 Sep to 3 Dec 2017. Jesper Just, exhibition of the cinematographic artist, runs 17 Dec 2017 to 11 Mar 2018.
Stadsarchief (City Archives) – Kijk Amsterdam 1700-1800, a look at Amsterdam in the 18th century via an impressive collection of prints, drawings and records. Runs 15 Sep 2017 to 14 Jan 2018.
Beurs van Berlage – Legendary Trunks, exhibition featuring 300 Louis Vutton trunks and items dated as far back as the 1850's, runs 6 Dec 2017 to 18 Feb 2018.
Oude Kerk – Christian Boltanski - Na, the French-born artist uses the entire Old Church deploying several monumental installations on the end of life theme. Runs at 24 Nov 2017 to 29 April 2018.
ARCAM – ARCAM presents a crash course (€7.50) on Amsterdam architecture and urbanism every Friday 1330-1415.
Museum of Bags and Purses – Accessories are a Girl's Best Friend, exhibition of the Rijkmuseum's extraordinary accessories collection. Runs 16 Sep 2017 to 28 Jan 2018.
Body Worlds – Display of human body plastinate specimens at the permanent venue on Damrak. The exhibition focuses on happiness.
Star Wars Identities – Exhibition featuring 200 original Star Wars costumes, props, models and works of art. Runs 30 Sep 2017 to 11 Mar 2018 at Cinemec Utrecht. Next to Utrecht Leidsche Rijn station, about 45 minutes from Amsterdam.
Check out our comprehensive Amsterdam museums section
Sport in Amsterdam and Netherlands
Ajax home matches at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam:
Ajax vs PSV (Eredivisie, Dutch League) – 10 Dec 2017, 1645
Ajax vs Excelsior (Eredivisie) – 14 Dec 2017, 2045
Ajax vs Willem II (Eredivisie) – 24 Dec 2017, 1430
Friday Night Run – Free monthly 1 hour run organised by running group Phanos. Meet at Olympic Stadium Amsterdam at 1930 on Friday 8 Dec 2017.
Friday Night Skate – 20km organised skate around the streets of Amsterdam held every Friday night (2030, weather permitting) from Vondelpark Pavilion.
See the full annual sport calendar for Amsterdam
Festivals in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Light Festival – Now in its 6th year, this event promises to light up the city during the festive season. Featuring a Water Colours boat route (30 Nov 2017 to 21 Jan 2018, 1700-2300) which can best be seen by taking an evening canal cruise; or check out the the new land exhibition (14 Dec 2017 to 7 Jan 2018, 1700-2200) around Amsterdam's Marineterrein.
Tangotrain – Tango festival cooperative event (4th edition) which runs the last week of December. Runs 23 Dec 2017 to 1 Jan 2018 at various locations around Amsterdam.
See our complete festival calendar for Amsterdam
Fairs & Expos in Amsterdam
Meesterlijk – Event for beautifully designed and crafted products from furniture makers, fashion designers, glass artists, hat and shoe designers, food designers and leather crafters. Runs at Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, 1-3 Dec 2017.
This Art Fair – Fair offering a platform for talented artists to show and sell their works to the public. At Beurs van Berlage, 27-30 Dec 2017.
Comedy & Shows in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Magic Show – Monthly magic and comedy show with international performers to be held at the cabaret-style theatre Paleis van de Weemoed in Amsterdam, Tuesday 5 Dec 2017 at 2000.
World Christmas Circus – Spectacular international circus show at Theater Carré, 21 Dec 2017 to 7 Jan 2018.
Disney on Ice – Live show and family entertainment at Amsterdam RAI, 28-31 Dec 2017.
Boom Chicago – Comedy and improv show held Wed - Sat and playing at Rozentheater on Rozengracht.
Classical Concerts & Theatre in Amsterdam
Toneelgroep Amsterdam – Amsterdam's renowned theatre company performs shows in Dutch which have live English surtitles above the stage - usually on Thursday evenings at the Stadsschouwburg theatre. Performances in December are: The Hidden Force (14/21 Dec 2017, 2000) and Kings of War (21 Dec 2017, 1900).
Dutch National Opera & Ballet – Perform opera La Bohème (Puccini), various between 1-29 Dec 2017; ballet The Sleeping Beauty between 9 Dec 2017 - 1 Jan 2018.
Pathé Met Opera – The Tuschinski cinema hosts live streaming opera from the Metropolitan in New York. The Exterminating Angel (Ades) is on 3 Dec 2017 (1100).
Portuguese Synagogue Candlelight Concert – Features clarinetist/saxophonist David Kweksilber and pianist Hans Vroomans, 13 Dec 2017 (1930).
Holiday Season in Amsterdam
Sinterklaas (St Nicholas, patron saint of Amsterdam) is celebrated in Netherlands on December 5th. In mid-November, Dutch TV shows him "arriving" by steamboat from Spain dressed in a red bishop's robe and carrying a pastoral staff. Sinterklaas then parades through town on a white horse accompanied by his helpers, the Zwarte Pieten (black Petes). In the last few years there has been a growing controversy and debate about the depiction of the black Petes due to perceived racial/colonial overtones. Although the majority of Dutch support the character, subtle changes in appearance are being made such as painting Pete's face in other colours.
Dutch children put out a shoe next to the fireplace and receive small presents such as pepernoten spiced biscuits or chocolate letters (with the initial of their first name). If you are invited to a Dutch Sinterklaas party you will probably have to buy a present for at least one of the guests and perhaps write a personal poem to accompany the gift!
New Year's Eve 2017/18 – See in the new year in Amsterdam. For general mayhem, fireworks and parties all over town. Head over to the Maritime Museum for the free municipal firework display over the river IJ which starts at 2300 on 31 Dec 2017.
Bijenkorf lights – Check out the lights and window displays at the Bijenkorf department store on Dam Square.
Other Events in Amsterdam and Netherlands
Ice*Amsterdam – Get your skates on and hit the spectacular ice rink on Museumplein in the shadow of the Rijksmuseum. Open 18 Nov 2017 to 4 Feb 2018.
De Balie – The multimedia venue near Leidseplein in Amsterdam hosts regular events about current affairs, politics and culture.
3D Print Canal House – See a canal house being constructed using 3D printing techniques and sustainable materials. The location is Asterweg 49, 1031 HM Amsterdam - get the free ferry across to Amsterdam North and walk beyond EYE Film. Visit by appointment only or take the walk-in tour (€7.50) which runs every first Wednesday of the month at 1500.
Free Concerts in Amsterdam
Bimhuis – Jazz venue has free Workshop & Session every Tuesday at 2000.
Concertgebouw – Free lunchtime concerts held every Wednesday at 1230 in either the small hall (kleine zaal) or large hall (grote zaal). For concerts in the small hall, free tickets must be collected from the ticket desk. 6/13/20 Dec 2017.
De Hallen – Free monthly choir concert in the passageway of De Hallen, Sunday 3 Dec 2017 at 1600.
Dutch Opera & Ballet – Free lunchtime concert in the foyer on Tuesdays at 1230. Performed by members of Opera Studio, the Netherlands Opera or Dutch Philharmonic orchestra. Concerts on 5/12 Dec 2017, plus Christmas Carols on 19 Dec 2017.
Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ – Free monthly concert showcasing young classical talent - Thursday 14 Dec 2017 at 1230.
Market Events in Amsterdam
Pure Markt – Regular market event with high quality local and seasonal produce, music, food stalls and other activities. At Amstelpark on 10 Dec 2017 (1100-1700) and at Park Frankendael on 17 Dec 2017 (1100-1700).
Sunday Market – Sunday market at Westergasfabriek with a mix of fashion, design, arts, food and kids stuff. Sinterklaas edition will be held on 3 Dec 2017 (1200-1800); funky Xmas market edition on 10 Dec 2017 (1200-1800); New Market (Deli & Lifestyle) at Nieuwmarkt on 29 Dec 2017 (1100-1800).
Museum Market – Museumplein hosts this Sunday market with arts and crafts, food and music on 17 Dec 2017 (1200-1800).
IJ-Hallen – Huge weekend flea market event held at NDSM-wharf in north Amsterdam. 16-17 Dec 2017 (0900-1630).
Rock & Pop Concerts in Amsterdam and Netherlands
Candy Dulfer – 6 Dec, Paradiso
Alison Moyet – 8 Dec, Paradiso