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What's On in Amsterdam December 2016


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 2016/17 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.

ice*amsterdam skating

Amsterdam Light Festival – Now in its 5th year, this event promises to light up the city during the festive season. Featuring a Water Colours boat route (1 Dec 2016 to 22 Jan 2017, 1700-2300) which can best be seen by taking an evening canal cruise; Illuminade, a beautifully illuminated free walking route (15 Dec 2016 to 8 Jan 2017, 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 – New monthly magic and comedy show with international performers to be held at the cabaret-style theatre Paleis van de Weemoed in Amsterdam. 2 Christmas Party shows on 6 Dec 2016 at 19:30 and 22:00.

Candlelight Concert Evening concert at the Portuguese Synagogue featuring music from the Olivier Greif ensemble. 15 Dec 2016 at 20:00.

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 4 Dec 2016 (1200-1800); funky Xmas market edition on 11 Dec 2016 (1200-1800).

Pure Markt – Winter market event with high quality produce, music, food stalls and other activities. At Amstelpark on 11 Dec 2016 and at Park Frankendael on 18 Dec 2016.

NeighbourFood Market – Christmas Sunday market event featuring local food products. On the weekend 17-18 Dec 2016 from 1100-1800 at Cultuurpark Westergasfabriek.

Museum Market – Museumplein hosts this Sunday market with arts and crafts, food and music on 18 Dec 2016.

IJ-Hallen – Huge weekend flea market event held at NDSM-wharf in north Amsterdam. 10-11 December 2016.

Dutch National Opera & Ballet – Performs ballet Coppelia between 10 Dec 2016 and 1 Jan 2017. Performs opera Parsifal (Wagner) between 6-29 Dec 2016.

Christmas concert – Chamber choir Photonen presents its Light of Lights concert at Dominicuskerk, Spuistraat Amsterdam on 18 Dec 2016 at 1515.

World Christmas Circus – Spectacular international circus show at Theater Carré, 22 Dec 2016 to 8 Jan 2017.

carre theater amsterdam

Disney on Ice – Silver anniversary edition of the Disney show at Amsterdam RAI, 28-31 Dec 2016.

New Year's Eve 2016/17 – 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. The Mystery of Hercules Segers is an exhibition of paintings from the intriguing Golden Age artist from the Rijksmuseum collection. Frans Post: Animals in Brazil, exhibition of the Dutch artist who travelled to Brazil in the 17th century. Both running 7 Oct 2016 to 8 Jan 2017. Kimonos from the Okura collection, exhibition of 7 Japanese 'No' theatre kimonos, running 21 Oct to 13 Dec 2016 at Asian Pavilion.

Van Gogh Museum Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape is an exhibition which shows the interconnections between Daubigny and the Impressionists. Runs 21 Oct 2016 to 29 Jan 2017.

Hermitage Amsterdam – Exhibition Catherine, the Greatest. Self-polished Diamond of the Hermitage is running 18 Jun 2016 until 15 Jan 2017. Portrait Gallery of the Golden Age brings together for the first time 30 colossal 17th century group portraits from Amsterdam Museum and Rijksmuseum. Runs to the end of 2016. Outsider Art Museum (in the Hermitage) includes world-class art works by Dutch and international outsider artists.

Stedelijk Jean Tinguely - Machine Spectacle, overview of work from the Swiss artist known for his kinetic art. Runs 1 Oct 2016 to 5 Mar 2017. Dream Out Loud - Designing for Tomorrow's Demands, group exhibition on social design trying to solve complex societal issues. Runs 26 Aug 2016 to 1 Jan 2017. Jordan Wolfson - Manic/Love - presentation (part 1) of work from the American artist who explores the increasing digitalisation of society. Runs 27 Nov 2016 to 5 Feb 2017.

Beurs van Berlage The Art of Banksy, sizeable collection (over 85 art pieces and installations) of the iconic British street artist will be on show in Amsterdam from 18 Jun to 8 Jan 2017.

MOCO Museum – This new modern and contemporary art museum on Museumplein opens with Banksy: Laugh Now (including the Beanfield work) running 9 Apr to 31 Dec 2016.

Amsterdam Museum100 years of Schiphol - Ready for take-off, exhibition tracing the history of Amsterdam's world famous airport. Runs 16 Sep 2016 to 7 May 2017.

Stadsarchief (City Archives)Amsterdam 1900, exhibition of photos of Amsterdam around the year 1900. Runs 14 Oct 2016 to 5 Feb 2017.

National Maritime MuseumDrive | 100 years of Collecting, exhibition about the history of the museum's unique collection. Runs 1 Oct 2016 to 2 Jul 2017.

Tropenmuseum The Buddha, 100 Buddha statues tell the life story of one of the most inspiring figures in world history. Runs 23 Sep 2016 to Jan 2017.

Rembrandt House Under the Spell of Hercules Segers: Rembrandt and the Moderns, this exhibition focuses on Segers' influence on Rembrandt and artists in his circle. Parallel exhibition at the Rijksmuseum. Runs 7 Oct 2016 to 8 Jan 2017.

EYE FilmCelluloid, exhibition of international artists (Tacita Dean/João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva/Rosa Barba/Sandra Gibson & Luis Recoder) exploring their work through analogue film. Runs 17 Sep 2016 to 8 Jan 2017.

FOAMAi Weiwei - #SafePassage, exhibition from the noted Chinese artist about the refugee crisis. Melanie Bonajo - Night Soil features experimental documentary films from the Dutch artist. Both run 16 Sep to 7 Dec 2016.

Huis Marseille Scarlett Hooft Graafland / Shores Like You, exhibition of photographic compositions from exotic lands. In the Spirit of Nature, exhibition from photographers Martin Gusinde (Germany), Rotimi Fani-Kayode (Nigeria) and Mario Cravo Neto (Brazil) connected by the subject of death and spirit. Both run 10 Sep to 4 Dec 2016. Chrystle Lebas / Regarding Nature, British landscape photos following the footsteps of botanist Edward James Salisbury. Runs 10 Dec 2016 to 5 Mar 2017.

Nieuwe Kerk – Major biographical exhibition 90 Years Miss Monroe celebrating the life of Marilyn Monroe on what would have been her 90th birthday. Opens 1 Oct 2016 and will run until 5 Feb 2017.

Dutch Resistance MuseumFood in Wartime, exhibition looking at diet during the Second World War. 5 Dutch chefs make recipes from ingredients available at the time. Runs 15 Oct 2016 to to 28 May 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.

Jewish Historical MuseumHungarian avant-garde, exhibition running 15 Dec 2016 to 16 Jun 2017. The Glory of the Jewish Book, Hebrew manuscripts from the Vatican and Ets Haim Library, runs 19 Sep 2016 until 8 Jan 2017.

Oude KerkMarinus Boezem, exhibition from the Dutch conceptual artist which includes a 19 metre high lift inside the church. Runs 24 Nov 2016 to 26 Mar 2017.

Museum of Bags and PursesRoyal Bags, exhibition of sensational bags from European royal families including those of Queen Elizabeth, Empress Sisi, Princess Grace and the Dutch royal family. Runs 8 Oct 2016 to 26 Feb 2017.

ARCAM – Architecture Centre Amsterdam presents an exhibition From Stopera to A’DAM Toren – documenting 30 years of the city of Amsterdam. Runs 7 Oct 2016 to 5 Feb 2017.

Body Worlds – Display of human body plastinate specimens at the new permanent venue on Damrak. The exhibition focuses on happiness.

Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo, 80km from Amsterdam)The Early Van Gogh, comprehensive exhibition of Vincent's Dutch works. The museum is located in De Hoge Veluwe National Park. Runs 24 Sep 2016 to 9 Apr 2017.

Check out our comprehensive Amsterdam museums section

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Sport in Amsterdam and Netherlands

Ajax home matches at the Amsterdam ArenA:
Ajax vs FC Groningen
– 4 Dec 2016, 16:45 (Eredivisie, Dutch league)
Ajax vs PSV Eindhoven
– 18 Dec 2016, 16:45 (Eredivisie)

Friday Night Run – a free monthly 1 hour run organised by running group Phanos. Meet at Olympic Stadium Amsterdam at 1930 on Friday 9 Dec 2016.

Inline Skating:
Friday Night Skate – a 20km organised skate around the streets of Amsterdam held every Friday night (2030, weather permitting) from Vondelpark Pavilion.

>>>See what's on in Amsterdam in January or other months
Other Events in and around Amsterdam

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. Every first Wednesday of the month at 15:00 is a walk-in tour (€7.50).

Fiesta Cubana – DJ Arno hosts the popular monthly Cuban-style salsa night. At Mirror Center (near Muiderpoort Station), €7 entry, Friday 2 Dec 2016 from 10pm. For more info go here

Pathé Met Opera – The Tuschinski cinema hosts live streaming opera from the Metropolitan in New York. L'Amour De Loin (Saariaho) is on 10 Dec 2016.

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. Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead is performed on 1 Dec 2016 (also on 24 Nov 2016); The Other Voice on 8/15 Dec 2016; The Maids on 15/22 Dec 2016.

Boom Chicago – Comedy and improv show held almost daily – now playing at Rozentheater on Rozengracht.

North Sea Jazz Club – Hosts a wide variety of jazz, funk, soul and world music every weekend (Friday & Saturday) at the Westergasfabriek. Dinner concerts include a 3 course meal by the in-house chef.

Valhalla – Innovative dance music extravaganza at Amsterdam RAI, 17 Dec 2016.

Tangotrain – Tango festival (3rd edition) at 9 venues around Amsterdam, 25 Dec 2016 to 1 Jan 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 2016.

Free Concerts in Amsterdam

Bimhuis – Jazz venue has free Workshop & Session on Tuesdays at 2000.

Concertgebouw – Free lunchtime concerts on 7/16/21/28 Dec 2016 at 1230. Get there early to ensure admission.

Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ – Free monthly concert showcasing young classical talent - to be held Thursday 1 Dec 2016 at 12:30.

Dutch Opera & Ballet – Free lunchtime concert in the foyer on Tuesdays at 1230. Concerts on 6/13/20 Dec 2016. 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

Laurence Jones – 1 Dec, North Sea Jazz Club
Status Quo – 2 Dec, Heineken Music Hall
Danny Sahupala (Chaka Khan tribute) – 3 Dec, North Sea Jazz Club
Oliver Heldens – 3 Dec, Heineken Music Hall
De La Soul – 5 Dec, Paradiso

>>>See what's on in Amsterdam in January or other months
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