Festivals and Events in Amsterdam and North Holland
Find out about festivals in Amsterdam and what to expect from each of the main events of the annual calendar in North Holland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Flevoland...
There are events on all year round throughout the country. Most larger towns and cities have weekly markets throughout the year and Christmas markets running from mid-November to mid-December. In summer most of the larger towns and cities have music festivals – open-air concerts and fireworks are common.
Dates for events vary from year to year. The Holland tourist website and local Tourist Information Points (TIP) have details. Here is a selection of annual festivals.
Events in Amsterdam, Haarlem and North Holland
National Museum Weekend: For one weekend in April, visitors are granted free or reduced-price entry to over 450 museums in Holland.
Imagine Film Festival: April film festival screening European and international films, animations and documentaries of the fantastic genre (fantasy, horror, anime, thriller, cult and science-fiction) at different locations in Amsterdam.
King’s Day (Koningsdag): From 2014, the former Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) becomes King's Day to mark the birth of King Willem-Alexander who succeeded his mother in 2013 to become King of the Netherlands. This national event is held on 27 April (26 April, if 27 April is a Sunday), and Amsterdam has some of the biggest celebrations including parades, parties in the streets, squares and along the canals, live music, free markets (vrijmarkt) and a fair in Dam Square.
Holland Easter Cup: One of the biggest Easter football tournaments in Europe. Nearly 200 teams from 12 countries attend the two-day event in Haarlem.
Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag): The 5 May remembrance service in Dam Square commemorates Holland’s liberation from the Nazis in 1945 and the end of the war with the Japanese. It also includes street parties and festivals in the city’s parks.
Bevrijdingspop: The annual Haarlem music festival to mark VE Day on 5 May.
Art Amsterdam: Held every year in May, the festival celebrates contemporary art in many forms from new and established artists at Amsterdam RAI.
Holland Festival: The June festival of international performing arts includes opera, dance, music, film and arts events at numerous venues around Amsterdam.
Open Garden Days (Open Tuinen Dagen): On the third weekend in June, the public is allowed access to the gardens of approximately thirty stately homes lining Amsterdam’s canals. Concerts, wine tasting and tours are also arranged. One ticket allows visitors to see all the selected gardens over three days. A special canal boat takes visitors from one location to another.
Kwaku Summer Festival: A summer festival celebrating the city’s multiculturalism with live music, dance shows, sports activities, theatre performances, a beauty pageant, literature and an opportunity to try different ethnic foods. Held in Bijlmerpark, Amsterdam Zuidoost area every weekend in July and August.
Dance Valley: Open-air dance music festival at Spaarnwoude in July/August.
De Parade: Taking place in early August, the travelling theatre festival provides theatre, music, magic art and comedy shows in Martin Luther King Park, Amstel.
Amsterdam Gay Pride: One of the largest gay pride events in Europe. There are parties, a Saturday boat parade and other activities organised during the week-long event in July/August.
KLM Open: The annual PGA European Tour golf tournament at the Kennemer course. The event is usually held in August.
TCS Amsterdam Marathon: Usually held in October, the annual marathon welcomes approximately 25,000 participants from across the world. The route circles Amsterdam via the 1928 Olympic stadium, Maritime museum, canals, Rijksmuseum and Vondelpark. It is open to professional athletes and amateur runners.
Grachtenfestival: A yearly classical music festival held mid-August. Concerts take place at locations throughout the city.
Uitmarkt: In late August, this event marks the start of the national cultural season. It offers hundreds of free shows of theatre, music, dance, cabaret, drama and opera at indoor and outdoor venues and on the canals. There are free programme previews in Dam Square, Waterlooplein and Nieuwmarkt.
Jordaan Festival: For three days in September this street festival celebrates the diversity of this once working class district. Events include a fair on Palmgracht, street parties, a culinary fair at Noordermarkt and talent contests on Elandsgracht.
Robodock: An event combining recycled materials and visual arts, drama, acrobatics, music, fire and water to create small and large scale shows. It takes place at the former docklands in September.
Museum Night (Museumnacht): For one night in November, visitors are granted free entry to many of Amsterdam’s museums between 19:00 and 02:00 Friday to Saturday.
Sinterklaas Parade: On the second or third Sunday of November, there is the traditional annual Santa Claus parade from Centraal Station to Leidseplein.
Events in Utrecht
Culturele Zondagen: One Sunday every month, Utrecht hosts a free cultural event with music, drama, film and art.
Spring Dance: A two-week festival of contemporary dance and performances at various locations in Utrecht city. It usually takes place in April.
Dutch Open Tennis: The ATP tennis tournament is held annually at the Sportlokaal de Bokkeduinen in Amersfoort.
De Parade: A July open-air arts fair held in Moreelsepark. There are independent theatre, music, visual art, dance shows and other entertainment.
Early Music Festival (Festival Oudemuziek): Annual classical music festival with more than 100 concerts of choral, chamber and classical music from the Middle Ages to Classical times. The festival is usually held at the end of August at the Muziekcentrum Vredenburg and other venues.
Netherlands Film Festival: A competitive film festival where Golden Calves are awarded for the best Dutch feature, short and documentary films. There are also special programmes, seminars and events for buyers, programmers and local filmmakers at Winkel van Sinkel and surrounding cinemas.
Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF): Organised biennially in November, this five-day event showcases international and Dutch animated films at Theatre Kikker. The programme also includes exhibitions, lectures and workshops.
Events in Arnhem, Nijmegen and Gelderland
Four Days Marches (De 4 Daagse): The largest marching event in the world to promote sport and fitness. Thousands of people join the daily 30 Km to 50 Km walks through the Nijmegen countryside. It usually takes place in July.
Black MotoCross (Zwarte Cross Festival): A three-day summer festival including a varied programme of music, theatre, motorcross stunts and activities for youths. More than 100 national and international bands perform on the 12 stages. The event is staged in Lichtenvoorde in east Gelderland.
Appelpop: The two-day Dutch music festival is held every year in Tiel. Entry is free.
Christmas Market (Kerstmarkt): A Christmas market with stalls selling decorations and gifts is held every December in Rijnhal.
Events in Lelystad, Almere and Flevoland
A Campingflight to Lowlands Paradise: Established in 1967, this is a three-day outdoor alternative music festival with concerts, stand-up comedy, film and visual arts, literature and street theatre. It takes place at Walibi World in Biddinghuizen, in the Dronten municipality, in August.
Challenge Almere-Amsterdam: The long-distance Triathlon is held each summer in Almere.
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