Festivals  Amsterdam

Festivals Amsterdam

The biggest event in the Netherlands and in Amsterdam is Queen’s Day, celebrated on April 30th. If you manage to squeeze in this day in the time of your visit, you won’t regret. But there are many more occasions to for a Citybreak to the Dam, such as the outrageous Gay Pride or festivals concerning arts as films, theatre, dance and fashion.

Queen’s Day

Queen’s Day is the craziest day of the year in Netherlands. Think masses of people in orange shirts, think loads of beer and think a massive flea market in the entire city, and you are getting close. Queen’s Day is the occasion for people from all over the Netherlands to go to Amsterdam to party like crazy. It is celebrated yearly on the 30th of April, which is the birthday of the late queen, Juliana. When her daughter Beatrix took over the reign, the day was not moved to her own birthday, since the weather on January 31st is too cold to allow for open markets, big music stages and a lot of alcohol on the streets. Actually, the queen herself is never in Amsterdam on this big day. She always visits two towns or villages in other parts of the country and is entertained with a programme of old Dutch games. During the German occupation, when the then queen Wilhelmina was in London, Queen’s Day was celebrated in a different way. Of course, the royal elements were taken out, but as the Dutch still could have their flea market to sell their old stuff, the day hadn’t lost all of its purposes.

Gay Pride

Famous for their tolerance of homosexuals, Amsterdam is rightly the place of the most chaotic party of gays and lesbians. Every year in August, the Gay Pride is organised. In the Netherlands, where homosexuals don’t have to engage in a political fight to be able to express their sexual identity as much as in many other countries, the four-day event has more to do with fun. In the Netherlands, gay couples are virtually in the same position as heterosexual couples. Since April 1st 2001, gays are allowed to marry. The gay pride thus is more a moment to party in the streets and in the nightclubs. The biggest moment of the Gay Pride is the traditional boat tour where gays and lesbians, sometimes dressed in clothing that leaves little for imagination, parade on the canals. Over the last years, the event has been the occasion for several political parties and the minister of Emancipation to show their commitment with gay rights.


Amsterdam is the scene of many theatre festivals. The biggest one is the Uitmarkt, which takes places in the final weekend of August to open the cultural season. In three days, many theatre and dance groups, comedians and musical stars of all disciplines, try to wet your appetite for their show. Performances generally last thirty minutes and almost of all them are free. Another great suggestion is De Parade. This parade is a travelling theatre festival that apart from Amsterdam also pays a visit to The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. In the two weeks in August that the plays are staged in Amsterdam, you will be able to experience absurd and innovative theatre – or when it’s too absurd, just take a glass of wine and enjoy the creative atmosphere of all those talented people around. But there is more: in the northern part of Amsterdam, separated by the centre by the free boats, the Over het IJ (Over the IJ river) festival takes places in early July. This festival is mainly focusing on theatre, whilst the Holland Festival in June has a true multidisciplinary approach. Apart from theatre, this festival includes music, dance, opera, film and visual arts.

Other festivals in Amsterdam

On May 5th, the Netherlands celebrates the end of the occupation by Nazi Germany on May 5th 1945. On this Liberation Day, cities all of the Netherlands host music festivals. As a capital, Amsterdam’s festival is one of the biggest, involving major Dutch bands and singers. Amsterdam is also famous for its yearly documentary festival. IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) takes place in November. This worldwide renowned festival screens documentaries from all over the world to inform the public about important issues.

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