With 300+ festivals on its yearly calendar, Amsterdam has earned its reputation as a cultural hub, as well as an open-minded party city. Encompassing dance, theater, music, film, visual arts and gastronomy, festivals in the Dutch capital appeal to a broad range of tastes, interests and ages. From children’s puppet shows in Vondelpark’s Open Air Theater to classical music performances at Het Concertgebouw, there’s something for everyone on Amsterdam festival stages.
As the days lengthen in spring, the season of open air theater and concerts begins. From May 30–June 23, The Holland Festival returns, bringing acclaimed performances from around the world to venues throughout Amsterdam. Since 1947, the festival has been offering an eclectic mix of theater, music, dance, opera, film and visual arts. Programs emphasizing disciplinary crossovers embrace new forms in contemporary music and theater. Check out Liam Gillick’s free open-air exhibition on Museumplein, displayed throughout the festival.
From May–September, Vondelpark’s Open Air Theatre presents a program packed with dance, cabaret, jazz, children’s theater, stand-up comedy, one-off festivals and all music genres. Outdoor concerts and performances are planned on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, from June 7–August 23. While entry is free, donations are appreciated. If you’re a salsa fan, don’t miss today’s Summer Breeze Latin Festival, celebrating its 20th anniversary in Vondelpark on Sunday, May 24. From 14:30–15:00, Patrick Mussendijk of Guateque Dance Company will lead a free salsa workshop.
Quieter but no less colorful are Amsterdam’s Open Garden Days, when some of the city’s greenest secrets are revealed: private gardens hidden behind the stately canal mansions lining the UNESCO World Heritage-recognized Grachtengordel (Canal Belt). From June 19–21, 2015, doors leading to the inner sanctum of these 17th century residences will be open to the public. Themed “Art in the Moat Garden,” this year’s Open Garden Days fest features 25+ private gardens in bloom. A ticket allowing access to all of the gardens costs €18 at the door; €16 if purchased in advance.
Gay Pride arrives in late July, bringing the rainbow-hued crowd to town. With dozens of LGBT bars, restaurants, shops, nightclubs, saunas and hotels catering to gays from July 25–August 2, 2015, there will be plenty of action throughout the city. Street and club parties are planned all weekend long, culminating in the infamous Canal Parade on Saturday, August 1.
From August 14–23, Amsterdam’s canals will become the stage for world-class classical music when the 18th annual Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival) hits town. The 10-day festival is expected to attract over 60,000 visitors from the Netherlands and abroad to venues throughout the city.
Summer winds down with Uitmarkt, August 28–30, ushering in the cultural season, when Museumplein transforms into a giant stage for new, emerging and established talent. For three days, 450,000+ theatre, music, book and film lovers will enjoy 450+ productions ranging from classical concerts to drama, puppet shows, hip-hop, ballet and jazz performances by some 2,000 artists.
In addition to performances on Museumplein’s grassy lawn, the Manuscripta Book Market, Uitmarkt Junior for kids, and numerous craft, snack and information booths will add to the fun of Uitmarkt.