2013 is an incredibly special year for Amsterdam. It marks 400 years of the city’s canals, 125 years of the Concertgebouw, the reopening of the Rijksmuseum, and many other unique events and anniversaries, all falling within a momentous 12-month period.

The official launch of the Amsterdam 2013 celebrations takes place in the second week of January. But as well as all of the opening activities for this jubilee year, such as the unveiling of a special Amsterdam 2013 icon, there is plenty more to get excited about throughout January. For example, the city welcomes the first Amsterdam Hotel Night, the launch of 24H Amsterdam Centre, and the opening of a number of special exhibitions in the Rembrandthuis and Amsterdam Museum. If the temperature dips and the canals freeze over, 2013 programming will duly adapt.

Amsterdam Light Festival

In the run up to the launch of 2013, the Amsterdam Light Festival – a festival of light and water – has already been showing the city’s landmarks in a new light. It runs until 20 January 2013 throughout the centre of Amsterdam, showcasing light sculptures and creative works by contemporary (international) artists. And as a free festival, everyone can admire the buildings and bridges in this special presentation.

1 January 2013

Amsterdam 2013 will enjoy an especially positive beginning on New Year’s Day, as museums such as the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, Tropenmuseum and the Hermitage Amsterdam (where you can presently see many of Vincent van Gogh’s famous paintings) will open to the public. This means international visitors, as well as locals, can spend the first day of the year enjoying artistic masterpieces all over the city.

The Golden Age

From January through September 2013, the Amsterdam Museum will present an elaborate exhibition about The Golden Age. Using all of the latest presentation techniques, visitors can learn about this crucial century of global trade. Its exhibits detail the story of trade and merchants, the VOC ships that transported goods, economic growth in Amsterdam, wealth, religious diversity, masterful artworks and, of course, the construction of Amsterdam’s Canal Ring. The 400th anniversary of these famous canals will be celebrated throughout 2013.


The celebration of 400 years of Amsterdam’s canals has also led to the publication of the Grachten Magazine (Canal Magazine). This is a new glossy magazine that presents a detailed history of the canals, as well as a map, and suggested walking and cycling routes through the most historically important areas of the city. The middle of January will also see the launch of the new English-language city magazine: A-Mag. Published every two months, this full colour production offers a broad view of all the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area has to offer, plus interviews, background articles and a What’s On agenda.

2013 Campaign

During the second half of January, the city’s streetscape will increasingly reflect ‘Amsterdam 2013’. This celebratory year will be punctuated by a visual campaign that expresses and ties together the icons of the project, using a variety of flags and vignettes. For example, the famous window displays of department store de Bijenkorf will be temporarily dedicated to celebrating the cultural icons of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. A special Amsterdam 2013 mobile app will also be launched, getting visitors started in the city through social media and other creative means.


24H Centre, a new initiative designed to showcase the very best of the city in just 24 hours, will kick off on the weekend of 12 and 13 January 2013. Subsequent editions will focus on the districts of Oost, Zuid, West and Noord, but its first edition is all about the Centre. Launching on the same weekend as the Amsterdam 2013 celebrations, everyone will open their doors for a day: from ballet studios to cinemas, from sports centres to neighbourhood centres and from cafes to cheesemakers. It’s proof that Amsterdam is a thriving metropolis with a 24-hour economy and has much to offer both locals and visitors.

Upcoming highlights

In March 2013, the impressive new exhibition Peter the Great will open in the Hermitage Amsterdam. There are also many related festivities involving the newly renovated Czar Peter House in Zaandam. Together, these activities form the core of the 2013 theme of ‘Netherlands-Russia Year’. On 21 March, the Keukenhof will once again open its doors for a new season. The Amsterdam 2013 celebrations will also play a key role amidst its flower fields and a special I amsterdam tulip will be presented. And beautiful flowers can be seen everywhere. For example, Artis Royal Zoo is set to be in bloom throughout the entire year as it celebrates its 175th anniversary. March also sees the launch of the new exhibitions and centenary celebrations of the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem.


Although Amsterdam 2013 is set to have many high points, few are more important than the reopening of the Rijksmuseum. Following 10 years of construction, renovation and restoration, the renewed Rijksmuseum is scheduled to open on Saturday, 13 April 2013. With an entirely refreshed layout, fully renovated building, new public facilities, newly landscaped garden, and Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ returning to its original gallery, the visiting public are set to be in awe. Overall, 80 halls will display 8,000 pieces of art and history, telling the 800-year history of Amsterdam from the Middle Ages to the present day.


Many of the houses alongside Amsterdam’s canals have also enjoyed a glorious past. In 2010 Amsterdam’s Canal Ring was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area’s houses have been home to the rich, endured many historic events, and today, behind their amazing façades, you can find many museums and inner gardens. To fully appreciate the grandeur of these 17th-century canal houses, a visit to one of these ‘hidden’ museums comes highly recommended. For example, the Amsterdam Heritage Museums (Willet Holthuysen Museum, Our Lord in the Attic, Biblical Museum and Amsterdam Museum) will present the exhibition Living on the Canal in January 2013.