Experience the Magic of Winter in Amsterdam

27 Nov 2023  |  Inspiration

As the days grow shorter and the air turns crisp, Amsterdam transforms into a winter wonderland. From enchanting canals adorned with sparkling lights to cosy cafes serving hearty Dutch delights, the city offers a unique and captivating experience during the winter months. Join us as we journey through the seasonal highlights that make a winter visit to this European gem truly magical and memorable.

Lights, Camera, Amsterdam Light Festival!

30.11.23 – 21.01.23

Throughout the winter season, the city’s historic canals awaken in a dazzling spectacle, courtesy of the annual Amsterdam Light Festival (ALF). Each year, the festival draws inspiration from a different theme - this season it's: 'LOADING… Revealing ART, AI, and Tech.' Over 20 luminous artworks, crafted by artists from around the world, immerse the canals in a captivating exhibition. Whether you choose to embark on a boat adventure or prefer a leisurely stroll, the Amsterdam Light Festival's brilliance can be savoured from both land and water. Our suggestion? Set sail on a cruise with Pure Boats who offer exceptional shared and private journeys to elevate your festival encounter. Their 1,5-hour festival tour, featuring local craft beers, warm mulled wine, and Dutch nibbles, is sure to be a boating experience you’ll cherish. Begin to plan your ALF route here.

Experience ‘gezelligheid’ at Amsterdam’s largest winter terrace

23.11.23 – 10.12.23

If you ask any Dutch person how they would describe the feeling of a warm and snug place in winter, chances are they will say ‘gezellig.’ Like the Danish word ‘hygge,’ ‘gezellig’ or ‘gezelligheid (noun) is a term crammed with unique cultural connotations. It ultimately reflects a type of atmosphere that can be loosely defined as nice, comfortable, homey, friendly, enjoyable, and wholesome – and there’s plenty of that to be discovered among Amsterdam’s vibrant winter terraces. One of those is the Het Amsterdamse Winterterras (The Amsterdam Winter Terrace), the city’s largest seasonal terrace, which opens its doors from November 23 to December 10. Get ready for a delightful blend of good food, great drinks, live performances, and cosy dances. One thing is certain – it’s wonderfully ‘gezellig!’ To view the programme and to buy tickets, click here.

Shoot for the stars at Fabrique de Lumières Amsterdam

14.10.23 – 7.01.23

When the winter chill sets in, and you’re looking to escape the cold, we recommend a visit to the uniquely enchanting Fabrique des Lumières. Here, at the largest immersive digital art centre in The Netherlands, art is brought to life. During the winter months, the exhibition space invites you to go beyond the frontiers of our solar system with ‘Destination Cosmos: The Immersive Space Experience.’ This starry odyssey employs state-of-the-art technology to excite, incite, and overwhelm. It’s a one-of-a-kind, top-rated experience in Amsterdam. If celestial realms aren’t your fancy, the exhibitions of Gaudi and Dali offer equally enthralling alternatives at the Fabrique des Lumières.

Set out in search of Sinterklaas

19.11.2023 – 5.12.2024

Every November, the city of Amsterdam eagerly awaits the arrival of their most iconic holiday figure – Sinterklaas. Think of him as a Dutch Santa Claus, minus the reindeer, but with a white horse instead. According to the tradition, Sinterklaas arrives by boat from Spain bringing presents and treats in time for the festive season. His arrival in Amsterdam is a special occasion, drawing locals to watch him parade through the city’s streets and canals. One of the best ways to experience the excitement is to witness his boat dock at the Scheepvaartmuseum (Maritime Museum) or catch the end of his parade at the Leidseplein. Along the journey, you’re likely to encounter plenty of ‘pepernoten’ – a typically Dutch wintertime sweet – which are handed out generously by Sinterklaas and his helpers. Amid the festivities, expect to be surrounded by children laughing, acrobats performing and bands playing. The Sinterklaas celebrations continue daily up until the final celebration on December 5, so there’s plenty of time to embrace one of The Netherlands’ most quintessential winter traditions. Discover more about the celebrations here.

As the city dons its festive attire and the canals glisten with a touch of frost, winter in Amsterdam brings a warmth of its own. And, while the days may be shorter, the list of reasons why you should visit Amsterdam this season just got a whole lot longer.

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