High culture meets good times in Amsterdam, a city as popular for museum-hopping mini-breaks as it is for raucous hen or stag trips.
Its iconic 17th-century canal houses, delightful cafés and fleets of vintage-style bikes project an air of wholesome, timeless charm. In between sampling local food and drink, there are some truly unmissable sights and events to discover. Make no mistake: there’s more to this destination than Rembrandt and tulips.
The Dutch capital plays host to several hundred festivals every year, so the chances are there’s going to be something worth seeing during your visit. New events spring up all the time, but there are a few staples of the events calendar that are especially worth keeping an eye out for, alongside performance favourites including the annual Holland Festival (June) and De Parade (August).
Amsterdam Light Festival
Amsterdam in the colder seasons is a breath-takingly picturesque sight, with deep snow common and frozen canals providing natural skating rinks. Adding to that winter wonderland atmosphere is this annual festival, which sees the streets illuminated with light installations from December to January. Sparkling with colourful reflections, the always-stunning canals look their absolute best. And as a bonus you’ll get to enjoy the city’s famous Christmas markets if you come at this time of year.
On 27 April, the King’s birthday is celebrated with a huge, city-wide street party that sees locals dress in orange, impromptu flea markets spring up everywhere and the canals jammed with brightly decorated boats.
Beer is big in Amsterdam, and never is it bigger than at this annual festival, held each autumn. Join the thousands of visitors who flock to the Beurs van Berlage to celebrate the local bock beer style on the last weekend in October.