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...
|Holiday Season 2017/18 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 some controversy and debate about the depiction of the black Petes due to perceived racial/colonial overtones. Although the majority of Dutch support the character, changes in appearance are being made. Some faces of Pete will be made less black or be painted in different colours.
Dutch children put out a shoe next to the fireplace and receive small presents such as pepernoten spiced biscuits or chocolate letters (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!
Ice*Amsterdam Get your skates on and hit the spectacular ice rink on Museumplein in the shadow of the Rijksmuseum.
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; Illuminade, a beautifully illuminated free walking route (14 Dec 2017 to 7 Jan 2018, 1700-2200) around Amsterdam's Weesper and Plantage districts. Artworks are lit between 1700-2200. There is a light festival info kiosk at Stopera Waterlooplein.
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. Dates to be announced.
Bijenkorf store – Check out the lights and window displays at the Bijenkorf department store on Dam Square.
Sunday Market Sunday market at Cultuurpark 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).
Pure Markt Winter market event with high quality local and seasonal produce, music, food stalls and other activities. Runs 1100-1700 at Amstelpark (10 Dec 2017) and at Park Frankendael (17 Dec 2017).
NeighbourFood & Flea Market Christmas weekend market event featuring local products. Runs Saturday 16 Dec 2017 (1200-2000) and Sunday 17 Dec 2017 (1100-1800) at Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek.
Museum Market Museumplein hosts this Sunday market with arts and crafts, food and music on 17 Dec 2017.
IJ-Hallen Huge weekend flea market event held at NDSM-wharf in north Amsterdam. Dates to be announced.
World Christmas Circus – Spectacular international circus show at Theater Carré, dates to be announced.
Disney on Ice – Live show and family entertainment at Amsterdam RAI, 28-31 Dec 2017.
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 - starts at 2300.
|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.
Van Gogh Museum 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.
Hermitage Amsterdam – Exhibition Dutch Master runs between 14 Oct 2017 and 27 May 2018. Also at the Hermitage: Outsider Art Museum includes world-class art works by Dutch and international outsider artists; and permanent exhibition Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age.
Stedelijk De Stijl and Metz & Co, members of artistic movement De Stijl created furniture, interior textiles, packaging and design items for the Amsterdam department store Metz & Co. Exhibition runs 14 Oct 2017 until 28 Jan 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.
Tropenmuseum Rhythm & Roots - from blues to hip hop, a journey of musical styles which have roots in Africa. Runs until 7 Jan 2018.
Huis Marseille Landscape with Tree/ by Jamie Hakesworth, photo exhibition from the British analogue photographer runs 9 Sep to 10 Dec 2017.
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.
EYE Film Apichatpong Weerasethakul, exhibition of the Thai film director runs 16 Sep to 3 Dec 2017.
ARCAM – ARCAM presents a crash course (€7.50) on Amsterdam architecture and urbanism every Friday 1330-1415.
Body Worlds Display of human body plastinate specimens at the permanent venue on Damrak. The exhibition focuses on happiness.
Check out our comprehensive Amsterdam museums section
|Sport in Amsterdam and Netherlands|
|Other Events in and around 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, date to be announced.
Fiesta Cubana DJ Arno hosts the popular monthly Cuban-style salsa night. At Mirror Center (near Muiderpoort Station), €7 entry, Friday 1 Dec 2017 from 10pm. For more info go here
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.
Boom Chicago Comedy and improv show held almost daily playing at Rozentheater on Rozengracht.
Valhalla Innovative dance music extravaganza at Amsterdam RAI, date to be confirmed.
Tangotrain – Tango festival (4th edition) at 9 venues around Amsterdam, dates to be confirmed.
This Art Fair – Fair offering a platform for talented artists to show and sell their works to the public. At Beurs van Berlage, dates to be confirmed.
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 on Tuesdays at 2000.
Concertgebouw Free lunchtime concert generally every Wednesday at 1230. Dates to be announced.
Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ – Free monthly concert showcasing young classical talent - date to be announced.
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.
Our full guide to Free things to do in Amsterdam
|Pop / Rock Concerts in Amsterdam|
Shows yet to be announced
a hotel in Amsterdam|