What's On in Amsterdam December 2018
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. 80 Years’ War, exhibition showing how violence, rebellion and civil war, terror and oppression, religious persecutions and refugees led to the emergence of the present Netherlands and Belgium. Runs 12 Oct 2018 to 20 Jan 2019.
Van Gogh Museum – Popular museum with the world's largest collection of Vincent van Gogh paintings. Gaugin and Laval on Martinique, exhibition featuring paintings of Paul Gaugin and Charles Laval created on the island. Runs 5 Oct 2018 to 13 Jan 2019.
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 Classic Beauties featuring neo-classic art runs between 16 Jun 2018 and 13 Jan 2019. Also ongoing at the Hermitage: Panorama Amsterdam. City Time Lapse, a visual projection of Amsterdam through the ages as seen from the Amstel river; and 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.
Stedelijk – Amsterdam's main modern and contemporary art museum.
MOCO Museum – This modern and contemporary art museum on Museumplein. Banksy: Laugh Now (includes Beanfield) is now a permanent exhibition.
Tropenmuseum – Ethnographic museum featuring fascinating exhibitions on non-Western cultures.
National Holocaust Museum – Opened in 2016, this museum is under development and currently presents Tangible Memories from the Jewish Monument, exhibition of objects, photos and documents of people affected by the Holocaust. Ongoing until end 2019.
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
Ajax home matches at the Johan Cruyff ArenA in Amsterdam - to be announced.
Friday Night Run – Free monthly 1 hour run organised by running group Phanos. Meet at Olympic Stadium Amsterdam at 1930 on Friday 14 Dec 2018.
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 – Heading into its 7th year, this event promises to light up the city during the festive season. Featuring a Water Colours boat route which can best be seen by taking an evening canal cruise; or check out the the new land exhibition around Amsterdam's Marineterrein. Runs Dec 2018 to Jan 2019, dates to be confirmed.
Tangotrain – Tango festival cooperative event (5th edition) which runs the last week of December. At various locations around Amsterdam, dates to be confirmed.
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, 30 Nov to 2 Dec 2018.
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 2018.
Comedy & Shows in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Magic Show – At Boom Chicago's Rozentheater, Rozengracht in Amsterdam, Tuesday 4 Dec 2018 at 2000.
World Christmas Circus – Spectacular international circus show at Theater Carré, dates to be confirmed.
CATS – English version of the musical at Amsterdam RAI, 20 Dec 2018 to 13 Jan 2019.
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. New 2018/19 season to be announced.
Dutch National Opera & Ballet – New 2018/19 season of ballet and opera performances to be announced.
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 2018/19 – 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 2018.
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 late Nov 2018 to early Feb 2019, dates to be confirmed.
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 on occasional Wednesdays at 1230 in either the small hall (kleine zaal) or large hall (grote zaal). New season begins in Sep 2018, dates to be announced. For concerts in the small hall, free tickets must be collected from the ticket desk.
De Hallen – Free monthly choir concert in the passageway of De Hallen, date to be announced.
Dutch Opera & Ballet – New season of free lunchtime concert in the foyer every Tuesday at 1230. Performed by members of Opera Studio, the Netherlands Opera or Dutch Philharmonic orchestra. Dates to be announced.
Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ – Free monthly concert showcasing young classical talent - date to be announced.
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 16 Dec 2018 (1100-1700) and at Park Frankendael on 23 Dec 2018 (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 2 Dec 2018 (1200-1800); funky Xmas market edition on 16 Dec 2018 (1200-1800); New Market (Deli & Lifestyle) at Nieuwmarkt on 28 Dec 2018 (1100-1800).
Museum Market – Museumplein hosts this Sunday market with arts and crafts, food and music, date to be confirmed.
IJ-Hallen – Huge weekend flea market event held at NDSM-wharf in north Amsterdam with 500 indoor stands. 8-9 Dec 2018 (0900-1630).
Rock & Pop Concerts in Amsterdam and Netherlands
Chilly Gonzalez – 8 Dec, Carré
Alison Moyet – 8 Dec, Paradiso