This is a magical time of year and the cultural calendar has something for everyone. Since autumn in Amsterdam is a mix of warm and wintery days, we’ve included both outdoor and indoor events to cover any type of weather. Rain or shine, it is always a good time to explore Amsterdam with your family.
Behind the ballet
Here’s an event that is always on point. Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at Dutch National Opera & Ballet? Find out during this free open house, with workshops, demonstrations about how the costumes and wigs are made and a tour of the impressive backstage. There will also be performances by Dutch National Ballet, the Junior Company, the Choir of Dutch National Opera and a few soloists. Pirouette are you waiting for?
14 September // operaballet.nl
Open Monuments Day
The annual Open Monuments Day Amsterdam casts open the doors of important buildings, monuments and private homes to the public, all free of charge. In addition to getting an intimate look at the city’s rich history, you can also take advantage of the fantastic programme of walks, boat and cycling tours, lectures and the extensive schedule of activities for kids and younger audiences.
14-15 September // Open Monuments Day
Amstelveen art festival
This big party at the Schouwburg Amstelveen invites kids to come dressed up as a fireman, police officer or doctor as part of this year’s Emergency Services theme. Kids ages two to 12 can participate in workshops, watch the puppet show and other giggle-inspiring acts, get their faces painted, draw and do crafts. It is a colourful way to spend a Sunday and kick off Amsterdam’s cultural season.
29 September // Schouwburg Amstelveen
During one week in October, museums across Amsterdam host events for kids that are designed to inspire their imaginations and help them better understand the exhibitions. This year there will be more than 400 educational activities on offer, with games that are so much fun that the children won’t even realize they are learning about Dutch history and culture.
13-28 October // museumkidsweek.nl (in Dutch)
Splash and play
During September, Sport4Kidz hosts water games and outdoor activities at Jeugdland in Oost. Kids that are six or older and have an A diploma in swimming can join the aquatic fun with raft building, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, swimming and water sports, and learn survival skills such as navigation, archery and making a campfire.
Various dates // check kidsproof.nl (in Dutch) for the updated calendar, Jeugdland
National Archaeology Days
During one weekend in October there will be hundreds of archaeological activities and events set up across the Netherlands to inspire budding Indiana Joneses and Lara Crofts. Through a series of talks, workshops, events and excavations, you’ll unearth Dutch history and get a glimpse of the storied past that lies right beneath the surface.
11-13 October // more information on kidsproof.nl (in Dutch)
This annual film, television and new-media festival has a wide variety of screenings and activities tailored to kids. Children aged between three and 14 years can watch new, unusual and striking films and television shows and meet the creators of these high-quality productions. They can also explore the MediaLab, an exhibition of interactive art installations, workshops, games and apps. It is a great event that encourages kids to be discerning about media and view things with a critical eye.
19-25 October // Cinekid Festival
Build a boat
Kids ages six and up can sign up to learn how to make a model ship at the Rijksmuseum. Begin by touring the collection of approximately 1,800 model ships and maritime objects, most of which came from the Department of the Navy in the 1880s. Once you’ve seen some best-in-class examples try your hand at building your own boat that you can then take home and put on proud display - a little piece of the Rijks in your living room.
20-27 October // Rijksmuseum (classes led in Dutch)
All Hallows' Eve in Amsterdam is frightfully fun! Many houses dole out candy to costumed trick-or-treaters and there are parties galore to get your kids into the spooky spirit, from an annual bash at the Hard Rock Cafe to Amsterdam Mama’s Spooktacular Parade that usually winds through Beatrix Park.
31 October // Halloween events
Image credit: David Menidrey
On Sint Maarten, children stroll through the streets brandishing homemade lanterns, knocking on doors and serenading their neighbours in return for candy and fruit. As part of the celebration, there is a lantern parade that begins at 18:00 at the Koninginneweg entrance of Vondelpark.
11 November // Vondelpark
Turn on the Lights
Watch the city light up with the illumination of hundreds of thousands of energy-efficient LED lights on the façade of the majestic de Bijenkorf building, followed by a glittering fireworks display that ushers Amsterdam into the holiday season.
14 November // Turn on the Lights
Every November, Sinterklaas (Santa’s counterpart in the Netherlands) travels from his home in Spain to the Netherlands, bringing presents and special treats for the children. The day after he arrives, he takes part in a colourful parade through Amsterdam, travelling by boat and horseback. Children line the route to wave at Sint and his friends, as traditional sweets rain down upon them.
17 November // check sintinamsterdam.nl (in Dutch) for route updates
Check out kidsproof.nl/Amsterdam (in Dutch) for an up-to-date agenda of all the family-friendly events and activities happening in Amsterdam now.