Like many cities, Amsterdam dresses up during the year-end holiday season. Throughout town, sparkly fairy lights and seasonal decorations illuminate buildings, bridges and streets. A giant Christmas tree presides over Dam Square. Weekend markets scented with the heady aromas of glühwein and oliebollen attract holiday revelers. On Museumplein, tourists join locals at ICE Amsterdam, an outdoor skating rink in the shadow of the stately Rijksmuseum.
During the coldest, darkest days of the year, one of the city’s most innovative new traditions is the Amsterdam Light Festival. Designed to showcase the abstract and figurative power of light as a visual medium, the spectacle embraces a young art form boosted by the ever-advancing LED revolution in which the city replaces the museum as a stage.
The best way to see the 20+ custom-designed light installations in the 6th water exhibition is by boat. Companies distinguished with an “Official Partner” flag offer a Water Colors Cruise with good views of installations along the Oosterdok, Nieuwe Herengracht, Amstel, the Herengracht and Central Station area. This year’s Amsterdam Light Festival runs through January 21, 2018. Here are just a few of the highlights:
For those still looking for the light on New Year’s Eve, a giant fireworks display will light up the skies over Amsterdam at midnight on December 31. Since it’s the only time of year fireworks are legal in the city, Dutchies can hardly wait to end 2017 with a bang. Gelukkig nieuwjaar!