Costume tips for a killer Halloween in Amsterdam

Halloween has arrived in Amsterdam. Given how over the top locals go for King’s Day and Pride, it’s no surprise that this fancy-dress holiday has stolen the hearts of many a creative Amsterdammer. Whether you’re heading out to a horror movie night, house party or club party, one thing’s for sure – you’ll need a costume.

Halloween Amsterdam


Go as simple or as complex as you like. Use your imagination and have fun with it! Some people take months to make their outfit, others throw it together the day of. Both ways can turn out brilliant. Here are a few tips from resident Halloween expert and purveyor of the city’s first Halloween parties back in 2000, Amsterdam Spook.

Classic Halloween

Halloween Amsterdam

Nosferatu will never go out of style. Whether it’s your first or 10th Halloween party, a classic Halloween character is a great way to go. Think witches, zombies, monsters, devils, demons, vampires, warlocks and ghosts. Put on a witch hat, black lipstick and green eyeshadow or drape yourself in a big velvet robe, add fangs and pale your skin with grease makeup.  
TIP – Do a test run with your makeup a week before. And, head to Louis Wittenburg or Witbaard for inspiration. They also have a good selection of ready-made costumes or accessories for purchase.

Pop culture

Halloween Amsterdam

There’s always at least one Batman at a Halloween party. Pop culture provides the perfect inspiration for your Halloween costume, and it doesn’t even have to be from horror movies. Think fairy tales, superheroes, villains, detectives, and sci-fi or fantasy characters. It also works well for group costumes. Darker productions like Beetlejuice (or anything by Tim Burton), Stranger Things, IT, Annabelle, The Shining, or classic horror movie characters like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Chucky and Samira are always a hit. 
TIP - Going as your very favourite character from a movie or series will mean your heart is really in it – which makes for the best costume.    

Gore galore

Halloween Amsterdam

Take any job or character – a dentist, 1920s flapper, celebrity or fast-food employee – and bloody it up. Every party shop in Amsterdam sells fake blood around Halloween. Take it up a level with a ready-made prosthetic or make your own with liquid latex, cotton balls, tissue and greasepaint. Really want to creep people out? Use some press-on nails for teeth in a mouth that extends across your cheeks.
TIP – Check out Youtube tutorials or take a makeup workshop. The artists at Backstage Amsterdam offer Halloween workshops in October.      

Politics and other funny things

Why so serious? Joke or pun costumes can be a simple but genius way to go – plus it’s a guaranteed conversation starter if you’re at the right party. A personal favourite pun costume was a guy with a cereal box stuck to his t-shirt with knives in it. Cereal killer! You can also turn to politics for a wellspring of ideas – just think of all the Brexit costumes you’ll see this year!
TIP – Worried that people won’t get your idea? Pin on a name tag or give out handmade business cards on the night.


A little goes a long way

Halloween costumes Amsterdam

Use your favourite glam party dress or sleek black outfit as a base and add to that. Accessorise with a wig, horns, cape, robe, hat or mask (but remember most masks are uncomfortable when it’s hot!). Or, paint your face white/grey, red or green, with dark circles around the eyes. Add contact lenses for some extra drama.     

DIY Halloween

Halloween Amsterdam

For a lot of us, the best part about Halloween is thinking up and crafting your own costume from scratch. The basis of most builds is a glue gun, tie wraps and gaffer tape. Where you take it from there is limited only by the imagination. Re-using and recycling whatever’s on-hand helps not only reduces waste and costs, but also somehow makes the crafting experience that much more fun. 

If you need to buy something – even if you’re not sure what – Action, the discount store, is a Halloween crafter’s utopia. Second-hand shops and markets (especially the Waterlooplein and Albert Cuyp) are also good places to find a missing element for your DIY costume.  
TIP – Instructables and YouTube have lots of amazing tutorials. It is best to give yourself plenty of time and, whatever you do, don’t stress about it.

Halloween Amsterdam

Party shops in Amsterdam

Louis Wittenburg (Raadhuisstraat 16)

Witbaard (Ferdinand Bolstraat 22)

Jokes (van Woustraat 225)

Backstage (Rozengracht 101-103)

Rental costumes

Alternatief Kostuumverhuur

Gerritsen Theater costumes (Weteringschans 116)

Online shops

Top Vintage

Attitude Holland

Show off your costume at Amsterdam's best Halloween parties and events