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 in December 2021…
The Dutch Government continues bringing in ‘precautionary’ measures to contain the ‘coronavirus’. Some events are cancelled [X] or may be cancelled/rescheduled at short notice with limits on capacity.
Museums & Exhibitions in Amsterdam
Museums in the Netherlands have been open since 5 June 2021. Visitors need to buy a ticket (and time-slot) online in advance.
STRAAT – A new and unique experience. The world’s biggest street art and graffiti museum in a 8,000 square metres warehouse at NDSM wharf and showcasing some 150 artworks, all made on-site. Book STRAAT tickets here
Amsterdam Museum – The Golden Coach is an exhibition about the royal carriage originally built for Dutch Queen Wilhelmina in 1898. The coach has been fully restored and is on view in a specially built glass enclosure. Runs 18 Jun 2021 to 27 Feb 2022. You can book Golden Coach tickets here
Rijksmuseum – The Rijksmuseum’s rich collection (including Rembrandt’s Night Watch) is a must-see in Amsterdam. Remember Me, exhibition featuring over 100 Renaissance portraits, runs 1 Oct 2021 to 16 Jan 2022 at the Philips wing. Book Rijksmuseum tickets here
Rijksmuseum Schiphol – Amsterdam airport hosts a small selection of works from the Rijksmuseum collection. The museum is located on Holland Boulevard (between Lounges 2 and 3 in non-Schengen departures) and is open 24 hours a day to passengers free of charge.
Van Gogh Museum – Popular museum with the world’s largest collection of Vincent van Gogh paintings. The Potato Eaters, exhibition exploring the origins of the famous Van Gogh painting. Runs 8 Oct 2021 to 13 Feb 2022. Book Van Gogh Museum tickets here
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. Take advantage of the lower numbers of visitors currently.
Hermitage Amsterdam – Showcases an exhibition every 6 months from the vast collection of the grand State Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia. Exhibition Tsars & Knights, a unique collection of suits of armour and antique weapons. Runs 5 Jun 2021 to 9 Jan 2022.
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 17th Century.
Museum of the Mind (Outsider Art) – 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. STEDELIJK BASE is the permanent installation featuring around 700 pieces. Prix De Rome: Open Call, exhibition of nominees for the Dutch award for visual artists below the age of 40. Runs 13 Nov 2021 to 20 Mar 2022.
MOCO Museum – This modern and contemporary art museum on Museumplein. Book MOCO Museum tickets here
Rembrandt House – Hat on for Rembrandt, exhibition of contemporary photographic portraits of children paired with etchings by Rembrandt. Runs 17 Sep 2021 to 2 Jan 2022.
Tropenmuseum – Ethnographic museum featuring fascinating exhibitions on non-Western cultures. Healing Power, exhibition about healing traditions around the world. Runs 5 Jun 2021 to 6 Jun 2022.
FOAM Photography Museum – Shigeru Onishi: The Possibility of Existence, the first European solo exhibition of the Japanese mathematician and artist. Runs 17 Sep 2021 to 9 Jan 2022.
Huis Marseille – Vincent Delbrouck Champú, exhibition from the Belgian photographer about teenage life in Cuba. Sohrab Hura Spill, overview of work from the Indian photographer. Both run 4 Sep to 5 Dec 2021.
Body Worlds – Display of human body plastinate specimens at the permanent venue on Damrak. The exhibition focuses on happiness. Book Body Worlds tickets here
COBRA (Amstelveen) – Clandestine: The Photo Collection of Pedro Slim, photo exhibition with the human body as central theme. Runs 18 Oct 2021 to 27 Mar 2022.
|The Iamsterdam City Card (1-5 days) offers free entry and discounts to numerous Amsterdam attractions and also includes a free transport pass as well. It costs €65 to €130.|
You can order the Iamsterdam City Card online here
Sport in Amsterdam and Netherlands
Ajax home fixtures at Johan Cruyff Arena Amsterdam:
Ajax vs Willem II 4 Dec 2021 (2100)
Ajax vs AZ 12 Dec 2021 (1430)
Ajax vs Fortuna Sittard 23 Dec 2021 (2100)
Friday Night Run – Free monthly 1 hour run organised by running group Phanos. Meet at Olympic Stadium Amsterdam at 1930 on Friday 10 Dec 2021.
[X] Friday Night Skate – 20km organised skate around the streets of Amsterdam held every Friday night (2030, weather permitting) from Vondelpark Pavilion. Cancelled until further notice.
See the full annual sport calendar for Amsterdam
Festivals in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Light Festival – Celebrating its 10th year, this year’s event (theme: Celebrate Light) will show 20 of the most popular past installations. Expected to run 2 Dec 2021 to 23 Jan 2022.
See our complete festival calendar for Amsterdam
Fairs & Expos in Amsterdam
IBC 2021 – Influential media, entertainment and technology expo, to be held at RAI Amsterdam on 3-6 Dec 2021.
Comedy & Shows in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Magic Show – At Boom Chicago’s Rozentheater, Rozengracht in Amsterdam, Tuesday 7 Dec 2021 at 2000.
Boom Chicago – Comedy and improv shows in English playing at Rozentheater on Rozengracht.
Classical Concerts & Theatre in Amsterdam
Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (ITA) – Amsterdam’s renowned theatre company performs shows in Dutch which have live English surtitles above the stage – for Thursday night shows at the Stadsschouwburg theatre. Note, many shows have been cancelled in December.
Dutch National Opera & Ballet – Productions in December include opera La Traviata and family production Anansi. There is also the holiday ballet production Nutcracker & Mouse King.
Holiday Season in Amsterdam and Netherlands
Sinterklaas (St Nicholas, patron saint of Amsterdam) is celebrated in the 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 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 many Dutch support the character, subtle changes in appearance are being made such as creating the chimney-soot Petes (Schoorsteenpieten).
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 2021/22 – This year looks again to be a more subdued affair with ‘coronavirus’ restrictions in place and a likely ban on fireworks.
Holiday On Ice Supernova – Popular family show on ice to be held at RAI Amsterdam 23-27 Dec 2021.
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. Expected to return for winter season 2021/22.
De Balie – The multimedia venue near Leidseplein in Amsterdam hosts regular events about current affairs, politics and culture.
Market Events in Amsterdam
Pure Markt – Regular market event with high quality local and seasonal produce, music, food stalls and other activities. 19 Dec 2021 (1100-1700) at Park Frankendael.
Sunday Market – Sunday market at Westergas with a mix of fashion, design, arts, food and kids stuff. Scheduled for 5 Dec 2021 (1000-1800), to be confirmed.
Museum Market – Museumplein hosts this Sunday market with arts and crafts, food and music. 19 Dec 2021 (1000-1800), to be confirmed.
IJ-Hallen – Large weekend flea market event held at NDSM-wharf in north Amsterdam. 4-5 Dec 2021 with 400 indoor stalls.
Rock & Pop Concerts in Amsterdam and Netherlands
Candy Dulfer – 24 Dec, Paradiso
Hotels in Amsterdam
You should book your Amsterdam accommodation in advance if possible. During popular events rooms can be difficult to find and prices can rise significantly! Book your Amsterdam hotel here via Booking.com, which usefully offers free cancellation if your plans change.
Some specific Amsterdam hotel recommendations:
Disclaimer: While we make every effort to keep this listing up-to-date, events can always be cancelled or re-scheduled at short notice. Please double-check with the event organisers.