Top 3 spots to see holiday lights

Amsterdam Light Festival

The big drawcard is the Amsterdam Light Festival now in its seventh year. Over 53 nights you’ll be able to take in 30 luminous art works by cutting-edge local and international artists all created especially for Amsterdam. This year’s theme is ‘The Medium is the Message’, a statement made famous by Canadian scientist Marshall McLuhan, who is also credited for coining the term ‘global village’ and foreseeing the internet 30 years before its invention. It’s all about story telling this year with Amsterdam in the spotlight. Expect work that will uncover the city’s rich history, shine the light on its unique architecture and introduce its extraordinary inhabitants. There are several ways to experience the festival including self-directed walks, walking tours and canal cruises. No matter what you choose, you’ll be treated to a spectacular perspective. And don’t forget a pitstop or two for a warming mulled wine or hot chocolate.

Turning on the lights

Every year Dutch department store de Bijenkorf marks the beginning of the festive season by lighting up the store’s majestic façade with hundreds of thousands of energy-efficient LED lights. It certainly makes a wonderful impression and the perfect backdrop for the massive all-lit-up Christmas tree on Dam Sqaure. This year the city will also use angels to decorate lamp posts with the aim of promoting kindness and taking part in the international #bekind initiative in an effort to reduce bullying. Bravo! Along with de Bijenkorf many other prominent buildings get into the Christmas spirit with bauble-laden trees and elaborate light installations, making a stroll through the city a bewitching affair.


Feest verlichting Utrechtsestraat Amsterdam Koen Smilde Photography 

Utrechtsestraat is one of Amsterdam’s most charming streets with its cool mix of bars, cafes, hip shops and boutiques. During the holiday season, it becomes an enchanting winter wonderland with decorations criss-cross the street from end to end. Take a stroll down this lovely lane starting at Rembrandtplein, admire the stunning shop windows of small specialist stores and duck intoone of the many quaint restaurants for a warming refreshment.

It’s not just the Utrechtsestraat that puts on a show, many other streets pull out all the stops creating wonderful street scenes that evoke the festive season. Get out your walking shoes and mosy down luxury shopping street P.C. Hooftstraat, the Spiegelgracht, hip and happening Haarlemmerstraat, Albert Cuypstraat and the 9 Streets. There will be decorations aplenty to warm your cockles.

Water view

It really is a magical time in the city and nothing is more magical than the way the canals come alight. Jump aboard a cruise of the Amstel for a romantic up-close-and-personal view of the light-strewn canals and lit-up bridges. When Amsterdam is all dressed up in lights and glittering in winter finery, it truly shines.

As the days get shorter, the city shines – and not just with Christmas lights. Read all about the many magical things to do in Amsterdam during the winter.