Amsterdam is a city that needs no introduction. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, known for its stunning canals, beautiful architecture, and rich cultural history. It’s no longer a question why to visit Amsterdam, but rather, when. In short: Amsterdam is a cool destination year round. Here is a curated overview – per month – of what’s to be expected this year.
Here are 36 reasons to visit Amsterdam in 2023
January 1-22: Amsterdam Light Festival
From December 1, 2022 to January 22, 2023, the city of Amsterdam illuminates with light art from the eleventh annual Amsterdam Light Festival. Hundreds of ideas are submitted from designers, architects and artists from around the world, and a selection committee chooses about 30 artworks for the festival’s installations. Notable artists such as Ai Weiwei and Nicole Banowetz have contributed to past years’ festivals. This event is a great opportunity to explore the city in a unique, illuminated way.
January 14-15: Hotel night
In 2023, Amsterdam residents can experience the city like tourists once again! Mastercard Hotel Night will offer 40 of Amsterdam’s most special hotels at discounted rates from January 14-15. Attendees can enjoy dozens of exciting activities throughout the weekend. To qualify for the discounted rates, you must be an Amsterdam resident. So get ready to explore your hometown and take a holiday like never before!
January 21: Tulip Day
Every year in January, Amsterdam marks the official start of tulip season with National Tulip Day. Dutch growers welcome everyone to pick a bouquet of tulips for free in a specially created picking garden. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this celebration, held at the new spot of Museumplein, with extra festivities.
Since 2012, Tulip Day has taken place on the third Saturday of January, and tulips can be found in over 1000 varieties until the beginning of May. The range of colours, shapes and sizes is vast, from bright yellow to deep purple, from lily-shaped to fringed and from two-tone to double-flowered. This initiative of Dutch tulip growers is made possible with the help of family, friends and volunteers.
February 14: Valentine’s day
With its picturesque canals, centuries-old buildings, and charming atmosphere, Amsterdam is an ideal destination for a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway. Whether you’re looking for a cozy, intimate hotel room or a delicious dinner in an elegant setting, the city has plenty of options to make your special day unforgettable.
February 18-24: De Huishoudbeurs
De Huishoudbeurs will open its doors to the Netherlands. Come on in and forget the time with your friends and family as you explore the unique and cozy event. Enjoy surprising activities, sample new flavors, and shop among the many unique products. It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience! Do you crave knowledge and practical tools to balance all your roles in life? Look no further – De Huishoudbeurs has you covered! Get useful tips and tricks on odd jobs, green fingers and cooking like a pro. Experience how ‘living in the moment’ works with simple meditations. Learn how to make your house a home, explore the latest travel trends and try out different sporty poses. Enjoy comfort food and vegetarian alternatives, along with the best (non-)alcoholic snacks. Have fun with great deals and be amazed by gadgets and new products. De Huishoudbeurs has something for everyone!
February 25: Remembrance February Strike
On February 25, 1941, the people of Amsterdam engaged in a massive, open protest against the persecution of Jews in Europe, known as the February Strike. In response to a raid on 427 Jewish men, an illegal manifesto was circulated with the words “Cease! Cease! Cease!” In solidarity, construction workers went on strike, tram workers stopped public transport and tens of thousands of Amsterdammers joined in. The action spread to other areas, including Zaanstreek, Kennemerland, Utrecht, Hilversum, and Weesp. The February Strike made a lasting impact nationally and internationally and served as an important source of inspiration.
A commemoration event for the February Strike will be held on February 25 at 4.45 pm at the Dokwerker on Jonas Daniël Meijerplein.
March 22 – April 2: The Pink Film Days
The Pink Film Days seeks to showcase the best LGBTQ+ films, documentaries, and shorts to a diverse audience. Many of these films are not typically seen in regular theaters. The Pink Film Days events and screenings take place at the Ketelhuis and other areas in Westergasterrein. For more information and the schedule of events, visit the Roze Filmdagen website. There are over 140 films with various topics available during the Pink Film Days.
March 18-19: Silent procession (stille omgang)
In the year 1345, a sick man received the sacrament of the sick in a house on Kalverstraat on March 15th. Upon vomiting, the vomit was thrown into the fire, but the wafer would not burn. Rather, it hovered above the fire. The caretaker of the sick person took the host from the fire and placed it in a coffin. The pastor of the current Oude Kerk took the wafer to his church, yet the following day the Host appeared to be back in the coffin in the Kalverstraat residence. The pastor brought the host back to the church, but the same occurrence would take place multiple times. Bishop Jan van Arkel declared in 1346 that this was a miracle: ‘the Miracle of Amsterdam’.
Every March, visitors from around the Netherlands come to Amsterdam for the ‘Stille Omgang’, a nighttime silent march through the heart of the city. On March 18/19, attendees can also join one of the 20 festive Eucharist services in any of the 7 churches located in the downtown area.
March 23 – May 15: Keukenhof Flower Garden
Keukenhof, often referred to as ‘The Garden of Europe’, is one of the world’s largest flower gardens, situated in the municipality of Lisse, in the Netherlands. It is spread over a vast area of 32 hectares (79 acres) and approximately 7 million flower bulbs are planted annually. The garden is especially known for its tulips, but also features other flowers such as hyacinths, daffodils, lilies, roses, carnations and irises.
Keukenhof lies in the province of South Holland, south of Haarlem and southwest of Amsterdam, in the ‘Dune and Bulb Region’. It can be reached by bus from Haarlem and Leiden train stations, as well as from Schiphol. The garden is open year-round for special occasions and festivals, but is open to the general public only for 8 weeks each year, from mid-March to mid-May, with peak viewing near mid-April. In 2019, 1.5 million people visited Keukenhof, which is an average of 26,000 visitors per day, higher than the 8,000 per day at Rijksmuseum and 14,000 at Efteling.
April 1-31 Amsterdam Tulip Festival
The city of Amsterdam is brought to life in April with the Tulip Festival! Discover dozens of locations and hundreds of thousands of tulips as you explore the city from North to Southeast, and from East to New West. Start your journey on the route from Damrak via Rokin and Vijzelstraat to Weteringcircuit, and admire the tulips on the Museumplein and in the Museum Quarter. Don’t forget to explore the tulip squares in Oud-West, such as Mercatorplein along Kwakersplein, Bellamyplein, Witte de Withplein, Van Limburg Stirumplein, and Frederik Hendrikplantsoen. Continue your tulip tour on the ferry to the Buiksloterweg, De Ruyterkade, Veemkade, Brazil Square, Anton de Komplein, Osdorpplein, and Gelderlandplein. Enjoy the beauty of the tulips during the Tulip Festival in Amsterdam!
April 27: Kingsday
Every year, Amsterdam celebrates King’s Day with a vibrant public holiday. Hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the Netherlands and abroad come to the city to join in the festivities. The day is characterized by large crowds, canals packed with boats, massive events in the squares, fairgrounds on Dam Square, the largest free market in the country, and a Vondelpark dedicated to children’s activities. The festivities are enjoyed by people from all walks of life and of many nationalities and cultures. Visitors can take part in the traditional orange-themed celebrations and activities, while those looking for a quieter experience can escape the hustle and bustle. Whatever your preference, King’s Day in Amsterdam is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
April 22-26: April fest
The Nieuwmarktbuurt neighborhood in Amsterdam hosts the annual Aprilfeesten festival, which runs in the week leading up to King’s Day. This event has a long history dating back to the 19th century, when a traditional spring fair was held on the Nieuwmarkt. However, in 1988, local residents came together to organize a neighborhood festival in response to the need for a better living environment in the area. Today, the Aprilfeesten features music, activities for children, and a neighborhood breakfast, as well as food trucks, a mini Ferris wheel, and a merry-go-round. The celebration of the Aprilfeesten is a time-honored tradition in the Nieuwmarkt neighborhood.
May 5: Liberation day
May 5th is a significant day in the Netherlands, as it marks the end of World War II for the country with the surrender of the German army in 1945. In Amsterdam, the capital of freedom and independence, a variety of activities and events are held to celebrate this historic occasion and the current state of society. One of the most notable events is the liberation festivals that take place throughout the country, featuring music and performances by Dutch and international bands, DJs, and artists. In Amsterdam, these festivals include “The Free West” in Westerpark, “The Amsterdam Association” in the Gardens of West, and the Children’s Liberation Festival at the Vondelpark Open Air Theater.
Additionally, there are small-scale gatherings in private homes and cafes of former Jewish residents and resistance fighters to share stories and memories of life before, during, and after the war. These gatherings, called Open Jewish Homes, are open to the public and feature film, music, poetry, photos, and diary fragments.
Liberation Day celebrations in Amsterdam culminate in one of the largest events of the day: the concerts on the Amstel river. The concerts feature a variety of artists from different music genres performing on a large floating stage with the Royal Theater Carré in the background. The concerts are attended by the King and Queen of the Netherlands, as well as all the volunteers who have participated in the events leading up to May 5th. The concerts on the Amstel river are a highlight of the celebrations and a fitting way to end the day’s festivities.
May 14-30: World Press Photo
The World Press Photo competition, a well-known international event for press photographers, will be held in Amsterdam in the spring. The exhibition features award-winning photos from the largest and most prestigious annual international competition for press photography, and is held at the Nieuwe Kerk on Dam Square in Amsterdam. Professional photographers, photo agencies, newspapers, and magazines from around the world are invited to submit their best news photos from the previous year. A selection of the best images is then chosen for a traveling exhibition of more than 200 photos, offering a glimpse into the work of press photographers worldwide and the way the media uses photographs to report on current events.
May 17-21: Rolling Kitchens (food festival)
Every spring, the Rolling Kitchens return to the Westergas area in Amsterdam, offering a wide variety of mobile dining options for foodies. This year, the Westerpark location will once again be transformed into the largest open-air restaurant in Europe, with more than 110 hand-selected Rolling Kitchens serving up delicious meals. The converted campers, double-deckers, vans, and mopeds offer a variety of dishes including pizzas, soups, fish dishes, and smoothies.
Visitors can enjoy the culinary delights while basking in the sun or during an outdoor film screening. Live music is also played at the international free neighborhood party, and the colorful bars only accept payment by pin, with the purchased glass serving as a souvenir.
June 1-25: Holland Festival
The Holland Festival is an internationally renowned performing arts event held in Amsterdam every June. Since 1948, the festival has been presenting a range of top-level performances including theater, music, dance, opera, and music theater, as well as visual arts and film. The festival’s programming focuses on interdisciplinary crossovers and highlights modern and non-classical contemporary music, as well as new art forms in the performing arts. The Holland Festival is a must-see event for theatergoers and fans of the performing arts.
June 16-18: Open Garden Days
In June, Amsterdam’s hidden gem – its beautifully landscaped gardens – are open to the public during the Open Garden Days. These gardens, located behind the stately facades of the canal houses, are not usually accessible to the public. However, during this event, more than 30 canal gardens open their gates to visitors, who can purchase tickets valid for three days, with the exception of Museum van Loon which can be visited multiple times. It’s a rare opportunity to see a variety of these gardens and get a glimpse of Amsterdam’s best-kept secrets.
May 19 – September 24: ARTZUID
The Amsterdam Sculpture Biennale, ARTZUID, brings the south district of the city to life every two years with an exhibition of modern and contemporary figurative art. The eighth edition of ARTZUID will take place in 2023 and will feature sculptures interspersed with spatial installations that create an immersive experience for visitors.
A one-way walking route has been created for the exhibition, which is 5 km long and runs along the Apollolaan, Minervalaan, Zuidas, Churchilllaan, and Stadionplein, with sculptures placed at least 50 meters apart. More information about the program can be found on the ARTZUID website.
July 7-16: Over Het IJ Festival
The ‘Over het IJ’ theatre festival will be back in 2023 with a new lineup of performances by established and emerging artists. The festival takes place at high-profile indoor and outdoor locations in and around the NDSM wharf, with the city serving as a source of inspiration and the stage. The sea container program and other locations at the NDSM wharf will feature short presentations, performances, and installations ranging from location theater to experience theater and crossovers with architecture, visual arts, audiovisual media, and performance. The festival is a unique opportunity to see the latest work from talented creators.
July 15-30: Kwaku Summer Festival
The Kwaku Summer Festival is a celebration of cultural diversity and identity in the Southeast district of Amsterdam, featuring culture, sports, and food as the main forms of expression. The Nelson Mandelapark in Amsterdam Zuidoost becomes a hub of culture, music, dance, food, and drink for four weekends every summer during the Kwaku Summer Festival.
The festival began in 1975 as a small-scale football tournament for local youth, but has since grown to include a wide variety of activities such as debates, lectures, dance workshops, beauty pageants, and music performances. It is known for its lively atmosphere and attracts around 300,000 visitors each year. The Kwaku Summer Festival is one of the largest events in Amsterdam and brings different cultures together through performances, dance, film, music, and football.
July 29 – August 8: Pride Amsterdam
Pride Amsterdam is an annual event held in the city to celebrate diversity and inclusivity, with a focus on gender identity. The event features a variety of parties, film screenings, sports competitions, exhibitions, debates, and the iconic Canal Parade on the final Saturday. The Pride Amsterdam agenda includes over 300 events, so be sure to check the website for the latest information. This year, the celebration will focus on the idea of being able to be true to oneself and live authentically.
August 11-20: Canal Festival
The Grachtenfestival, a music festival held annually in Amsterdam, will return in 2023. The festival features young musicians from all over the world, with a diverse range of genres including classical music, jazz, and music from other cultures. The concerts take place at around 30 locations throughout the city, including churches, parks, gardens, living rooms, concert halls, and on the Amsterdam canals. The Grachtenfestival attracts many visitors each year and serves as a launching pad for young, talented musicians looking to advance their careers. There will be around 200 concerts in total, offering something for everyone to enjoy.
August 19: Prinsengrachtconcert
One of the highlights of the Amsterdam summer is the Prinsengrachtconcert, a spectacular classical music show on the water in front of the Pulitzer Amsterdam hotel. During the Prinsengrachtconcert, thousands of people can enjoy beautiful music from boats and the waterfront at the foot of the Westertoren.
This year’s event will be held entirely on the water. In the afternoon, young talents and pop artists will perform at the Children’s Prinsengrachtconcert. In the evening, French-German cellist Nicolas Altstaedt will be the headlining guest at this anniversary concert, with other performers to be announced as the program is finalized. It is possible to attend the concert by boat, but space is limited and reservations are required. Boat tickets will be allocated after the registration deadline.
August 25-27: Uitmarkt
The Uitmarkt is an annual event that has served as the official kickoff of the cultural season in the Netherlands for the past 45 years. It takes place at the Museumplein and the Leidseplein and offers a preview of the best concerts, theater performances, musicals, and exhibitions that will be held in the coming season.
Last year, the Uitmarkt was divided into three parts:
De Cultuurtuin, a labyrinth on the Museumplein where visitors can scan information about the new cultural season;
On Location, where major cultural centers on and around the Museumplein and Leidseplein open their doors to the public; and the main Uitmarkt event, which provides an accessible and inspiring stage for anyone interested in getting a taste of what the new season has to offer.
September 1-9 The Living Room Festival
Living Room Festival Amsterdam has been a popular event in the city for 17 years. Originally known as the Wilhelmina Huiskamerfestival, it has grown to include performances in various parts of Amsterdam. The festival features small-scale theater performances where professional artists can test out new material. Visitors can see three 30-minute performances, including performances by young talents and experienced comedians, theater makers, and musicians. The festival includes different routes that lead visitors past unique locations and performances at larger venues.
It is an opportunity for Amsterdam residents to see inside special homes and participate in the celebration of the start of the new theater season. In 2023, the festival will also return to East and West Amsterdam with free children’s performances and visits to the elderly in the area. The motto of the festival is “If they cannot come to us, we will go to them.”
September 9-10: Heritage Days
The 37th edition of Heritage Day will take place in Amsterdam on the first weekend of September 2023. The theme for this year’s event has not yet been announced, but in the past it has focused on sustainability. The goal of Heritage Day is to preserve and pass on cultural heritage to future generations, while also considering the importance of making environmentally conscious adaptations to historic buildings. During the event, many monuments in the city open their doors for free and showcase different approaches to sustainability, such as the reuse of materials, insulation, water management, and increasing comfort and heating in historic buildings. In addition to visiting monuments, there will also be a variety of other events such as lectures, guided tours by junior guides, and more.
September 18-24: Amsterdam Art & Antiques Week
The Spiegelkwartier, located near the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, is home to many art dealers and antique dealers who open their doors to the public every September. During this event, the Spiegelkwartier becomes a hub for buying and selling art and antiques, with galleries and dealers offering a wide range of items including antique sculptures, Chinese porcelain, and more. The Rijksmuseum has a long history of purchasing art from the more than 70 specialized dealers in the Spiegelkwartier.
During the event, galleries and dealers exhibit their collections together, and other spaces such as coach houses and vacant buildings are also used to display art. Private collectors’ basements are also transformed into temporary warehouses. The Spiegelkwartier is a well-known center for art and antiques, and the annual event attracts visitors from around the world.
October 8: Grachtenrace
The Grachtenrace is an annual sloop race held in Amsterdam, in which boats navigate a 23 kilometer course through the city’s canals. Sloop rowing has a long history in Amsterdam, and the Grachtenrace dates back to 1951. The race is known for its challenging course, which requires skilled steering due to the many low bridges and tour boats on the route. The Grachtenrace starts at the Jan Schaeffer bridge in the IJhaven and ends at the Oosterdok. Spectators can easily follow the race by bike or on foot along the course. The Grachtenrace takes place every October and is a popular event in Amsterdam.
October 15: Amsterdam Marathon
The Amsterdam Marathon is an annual event held in the city on the third Sunday in October. The marathon attracts top athletes from around the world and is known for its flat, fast course with many highlights. In addition to the marathon, the event also includes the Mizuno Half Marathon, TCS 8 km, and two youth events. All races finish at the historic Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam Marathon has been held since 1978 and is considered one of the best marathons in the world, with participants from over 80 countries. The 47th edition of the Amsterdam Marathon will take place on October 15, 2023.
October 27-29: The Tribal Art Fair
The Tribal Art Fair is an annual event that showcases a diverse range of tribal art from around the world. Held at De Duif in Amsterdam, the fair features exhibits from over 20 galleries, both local and international. These exhibits include a range of objects from Africa, Oceania, South and North America, and Asia. From spears, shields, masks and statues, to textiles from Southeast Asia, jewelry from Oceania, and traditional forms of currency. Many of these objects are used in daily life, or are related to rituals surrounding fertility, initiation, or transition. Visitors to the fair will have the opportunity to view and learn about these unique and fascinating objects from a variety of cultures.
November 1-5: The International Storytelling Festival
The International Storytelling Festival is a chance to experience the power of storytelling and to connect with others through shared experiences and tales. The festival features a variety of events and activities, including lectures, masterclasses, workshops, and performances by top storytellers from around the world.
The festival is held in the first week of November each year and is held at Podium Mozaïek in Amsterdam. This is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the world of storytelling and to discover the many different forms it can take. Whether you’re a seasoned storyteller or new to the art, there is something for everyone at the International Storytelling Festival.
November 4: The Amsterdam Museum Night
The Amsterdam Museum Night is an annual event where museums in the city open their doors for a nocturnal visit. On the first Saturday of November, visitors can enjoy a special program featuring music, workshops, and tours at participating museums. The event is a chance to explore Amsterdam’s rich cultural history and see the city’s museums in a new light. Tickets can be purchased on the Museum Night Amsterdam website and are valid for access to all participating museums. The event is popular and tickets tend to sell out quickly, so be sure to get yours early to ensure you don’t miss out.
November 8-19: IDFA
The IDFA, or International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, is an annual event that showcases a wide range of documentary films from around the world. It is held in various locations throughout the city, and features both national and international premieres, competitions, and special events. The festival is a major attraction for film fans and professionals, and is known for its high-quality selection of documentaries that offer unique perspectives on the world. During the festival, attendees can see more than 300 international documentaries that cover a wide range of subjects, from the poorest to the wealthiest regions of the world. IDFA is a unique opportunity to see powerful and thought-provoking films, and to participate in discussions about their subjects.
December 1-5: The Pianoduo Festival
The Pianoduo Festival is a celebration of all things piano. From classical to jazz to electronic, this festival brings together the best pianists from around the world to perform in Amsterdam. This year’s edition will feature a mix of solo and duo performances, as well as workshops for those who want to learn more about the instrument. The festival is held at De Duif, as well as other locations throughout the city, and offers a diverse program that is sure to please all music lovers. Don’t miss out on this exciting celebration of the piano – check the website for more information on concert schedules, locations, and tickets.
December 14-31: Amsterdam Winter Paradise
Get ready for a winter wonderland at the Amsterdam Winter Paradise! This year, the event will be returning to the RAI Amsterdam in mid-December, offering a range of indoor and outdoor activities for all ages. Whether you want to skate on the 3400 square meter rink, take a ride on the mega Ferris wheel or high merry-go-round, or slide down the tube slide on real snow, there’s something for everyone at the Winter Paradise. You can even try your hand at cross-country skiing or curling on the ice rink, or have a snowball fight with friends and family. And when you’re ready to warm up, head to the Après-Ski Village or winter party for some festive entertainment, or grab a bite to eat at one of the pop-up restaurants featuring the best food and drinks Amsterdam has to offer. Don’t miss out on this unique winter experience!
December 20-24: Christmas concerts
In the heart of Amsterdam, you can find the city’s largest and most beautiful Christmas market, the Amsterdam Christmas Market at the Museumplein. From the end of November until just after New Year’s Eve, the Museumplein is transformed into a winter wonderland with a large ice rink, an illuminated ferris wheel and a wide variety of festive stalls selling Christmas gifts, food and drinks. The market also features live music and entertainment, making it a perfect place to get into the holiday spirit.
If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, you can visit the Christmas market at the Westergasfabriek, which offers a more authentic Dutch experience. The market features wooden chalets selling handmade gifts and artisanal products, as well as a range of festive food and drink. The Westergasfabriek also has a range of cultural events and activities for all ages, including concerts, theater performances and workshops.
No matter where you go, you’ll find that Amsterdam is full of festive cheer during the holiday season. So why not come and experience it for yourself?