Amsterdam’s lively year-round events calendar is packed with great things to get involved in. Whatever time of year you visit, there are always plenty of things to do in Amsterdam. 2016 looks set to be another good year for the city’s arts, fashion, music and culinary scenes with some of the city’s biggest and best events returning.
Take a look at our pick of events in Amsterdam in 2016 – and don’t forget to take a look at our apartments in Amsterdam if you are planning a visit.
Amsterdam Events in January 2016
8th-18th: Mercedes Benz Fashion Week
Entering its 12th year in 2016, the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week combines a packed schedule of shows from up-and-coming labels and global brands. It has truly put Amsterdam on the fashion map and there are many publicly accessible events held throughout the week organized under the title ‘OFF SCHEDULE’.
15th-16th: Whiskey Weekend Amsterdam
Whiskey lovers will themselves in paradise at the Whiskey Weekend. Fans of this hearty winter warmer will find much to keep themselves occupied with over the course of the weekend. Helpful literature is provided and there is no shortage of connoisseurs at the event – you’ll find it easy to immerse yourself in whiskey culture! Guests of this event are greeted with a whiskey in a souvenir glass as well as a palate-cleansing bottle of water. What a welcome!
Amsterdam Events in February 2016
12th-14th: Amsterdam Salsa Festival
Join fellow salsa lovers and dance the weekend away at this vibrant event. Brush up on your skills at one of the many dance workshops and enjoy performances by some of the world’s finest salsa dancers. A huge dance party closes the event.
13th-14th: 24H Oost
Discover what lies east of the River Amstel at this lively event, which showcases many exciting events over a 24-hour period. Musical performances, art exhibitions and plenty of snacks and drinks entertain over 10,000 visitors every year!
20th-22nd: Chinese New Year Amsterdam
Taking place on Amsterdam’s impressive Dam Square in the heart of the city, the Chinese New Year is the most important date on the Chinese calendar. Festivities kick off on Friday night with a firework display and carry on over the weekend with dragon dances, workshops, tea ceremonies and of course, plenty of food!
Amsterdam Events in March 2016
3rd-4th: 5 Days Off Festival
Up there with Amsterdam’s best electronic music festivals, 5 Days Off takes place in two of the city’s best venues – the Melkweg and the Paradiso. Over the course of 5 days, Amsterdam’s pulses to the sound of dance music. The festival is celebrating its 15th year in 2016 and will focus on techno, house, electronica and beat music.
10th-20th: Pink Film Days – Roze Filmdagen
The Pink Film Days festival – or the Roze Filmdagen to give it its Dutch name – has been a prominent feature of Amsterdam’s gay and lesbian events calendar since 1996. The festival has built itself an excellent reputation for showcasing the best of LGBTQ cinema and bringing the genre to a wide audience.
Amsterdam Events in April 2016
1st-30th: Tulp Festival
Amsterdam and the tulip have a close relationship and it’s hard to avoid the pretty flower if you visiting the city at this time of year! The Amsterdam Tulp Festival sets out with the express intention of making the tulip as ubiquitous as possible. Now in it’s 2nd year, visitors can visit popular public locations and admire seas of tulips blooming.
14th-24th: Pop Art Festival
Curious about puppetry and object theater? This long standing and intriguing festival hosts bizarre puppet shows and out of this world and intricate backdrops.
21st Apr-21st May: Springsnow Festival
During springtime, Amsterdam looks truly beautiful. The city’s elm trees scatter their beautiful blossom throughout the city. Stretching from Amsterdam Noord to one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, , the best place to see them is along the 8km ‘Elm Route’.
27th: King’s Day
Dutch people take their royal family seriously and each year they celebrate Koningsdag across the country. Wade through the sea of orange-clad revellers and discover lively open-air concerts, park shindigs and street celebrations across Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Events in May 2016
12th-16th: The Weekend of the Rolling Kitchens
Amsterdam’s yearly celebration of street food, the weekend of Rolling Kitchens, takes place in the grounds of the sprawling Westergasfabriek. Essentially it’s a huge open-air restaurant – there’s something for everyone to enjoy here!
21st: Pacha Festival
Now in its 5th year, Pacha Festival aims to bring a small slice of Ibiza’s world-beating dance music scene to the Dutch capital. Typical hippy markets, like the kind that are found on the White Island, are also a feature of this lively event.
28th: 909 Festival
Spend a day in the sunshine soaking up the world’s best techno sounds at this park festival, which is located in Amsterdamse Bos. Centered around just one stage, this is an intimate music event in a fantastic location.
Amsterdam Events in June 2016
4th-26th: Holland Festival
The oldest and largest performing arts festival in The Netherlands, the Holland Festival has been putting on internationally acclaimed acts since 1947. Fans of visual arts, contemporary music, theater and dance will find performances which span these genres. The festival is also famous for supporting modern classical music.
2nd-5th: Taste of Amsterdam
Dutch cuisine sits comfortably next to international culinary treats at this lively food festival. The city’s best restaurants pull out all the stops to provide inspirational dishes of food from all over the globe.
Amsterdam Events in July 2016
1st July-7th Aug: Comedytrain International Festival
Everyone is welcome aboard the Comedytrain, which brings a packed schedule of stand-up based hilarity Amsterdam’s Toomler Club. Spread over six weeks, visitors will enjoy a mixture of international acts and homegrown talent.
7th-17th: Over Het Ij Festival
Amsterdam’s premier theater festival is located at the colorful NDSM-Wharf which is lies just across the water from the central train station. It blends contemporary theater with DJ sets and excellent food options. Many of the performances take place in shipping containers – a clever way of adapting the performances to the unique surroundings.
Amsterdam Events in August 2016
1st-7th: Amsterdam Gay Pride
Amsterdam Gay Pride is a wild party celebrating equality for the gay, lesbian and transgender communities of the city. Spread over a week, parties take place throughout the city. The colorful parade is the defining feature and it is definitely worth catching as it winds its way throughout the city center.
‘Gracht’ is the word for ‘canal’ in Dutch and the Grachtenfestival somewhat obviously takes place on the city’s watery roads. Lovers of classical music should look no further than this festival for their fix of Bach or Beethoven. Performances take place on barges and floating stages and architectural tours of the city are also available.
Amsterdam Events in September 2016
2nd-4th: Jordaan Festival
The Jordaan neighborhood of Amsterdam is one of the city’s most vibrant areas. This festival celebrates the colorful local history and folk music tradition with a schedule of local singers and theater performances.
23rd-25th: Unseen Photo Fair
Discover new and emerging talents in the world of photography at Unseen, Amsterdam’s International Photography Fair. Many galleries from across the world contribute their best works to the fair each year. A busy schedule of talks and lectures runs alongside the event.
Amsterdam Events in October 2016
14th-18th: Amsterdam Dance Event
This five day electronic music and conference brings over 2,000 world class acts from around the world to 120 venues across the city. It’s the world’s biggest club festival and offers something for even those with just a passing interest in electronic music.
tbc: Cinekid Festival
The Cinekid Festival is the largest international film and new media festival for children in the world! It takes place at the Westergasfabriek over the school holidays.
Amsterdam Events in November 2016
30th: Amsterdam Light Festival Opening
A festival of light, the historic center of Amsterdam is illuminated from November until January. Evening cruises along the wintery canals offer spectacular views of this amazing light show.
tbc: Entrance Parade of Sinterklaas
Sinterklaas is a popular Dutch character who is not dissimilar to Santa Claus. Each year he is welcomed back to the city in time for Christmas. Over a kilometre of boats and floats bob on the water in central Amsterdam whilst 400,000 spectators watch from the banks of the canals as Sinterklaas arrives in town.
Amsterdam Events in December 2016
Amsterdam Christmas Markets
Amsterdam’s magical christmas markets can be found throughout the city. They’re great places to pick up seasonal treats such as ‘pepernoten’ (small spiced biscuits) or to warm up with a glass of steaming gluhwein. Ice rinks are popular in Amsterdam and large rinks can be found at the Leidseplein and Museumplein.
For more great ideas of what to do and see in Amsterdam, take a look at our guide to getting “Out and About in Amsterdam”.
Header image courtesy of Moyan Brenn at FlickrCC
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