Art and culture at Amsterdam Beach
When you think of a beach, art and culture might not immediately spring to mind. However, Amsterdam Beach is filled with hidden gems that show you the history and culture of the area, from the Amsterdam Defence Line and Industrial Revolution heritage to beautiful country estates tucked away in the dunes.
Beachcombing was once part of everyday life for the people of Zandvoort, as they sought to earn additional income. While beachcombing is now more a hobby than a sideline, it can reveal some fascinating finds. The Juttersmu-ZEE-um displays a number of these surprising artefacts and curiosities collected from the local beach, including a series of messages sent in bottles from all over the world! The museum also introduces facts about the local residents and their ties with the sea and the beach, while a highlight for kids is the museum’s sea aquarium. Entrance to this family museum is free!
Forteiland IJmuiden is part of the Defence Line of Amsterdam, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The fortress was constructed in the 1880s to help defend the surrounding area and restrict shipping traffic heading for Amsterdam. During World War II, Fortress Island was used by the German soldiers as part of the Atlantic Wall, which is when its additional military bunkers were constructed. This iconic post is half underground and is the defensive line’s most prominent building. Its most exciting features include an impressive dining hall, a dungeon and an armory. Keep an eye out for the islands public open days throughout the summer.
Sand Sculpture Festival
Every year, mountains of sand will be formed into the most beautiful and detailed sculptures during Zandvoort’s Sand Sculpture Festival. Participants from all over Europe are given a week to complete their creation. The structure of beach sand is unsuitable for making such sculptures, so special river sand is brought in for the occasion. The impressive sand creations can be seen on several of Zandvoort’s squares, both in town and along the boulevard. The Sand Sculpture Festival can be visited for free until the end of October, when the sculptures are removed.
Kunstfort bij Vijfhuizen is a former military fort located just south of Haarlem. It was once part of Amsterdam's Defence Line, a 135 km-long ring of defensive structures that once served to protect the city. The fort was restored in the early 2000s and is now used as a centre for contemporary art, complete with a restaurant. It also hosts film screenings, business functions and is an excellent departure point for local cycling and walking routes.
Luminosity Beach Festival
The Netherlands and trance music are inextricably linked and superstar-DJs such as Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten and DJ Tiesto are Dutch. At the Luminosity Beach Festival in Bloemendaal, three days of pure trance are on the cards. Major international acts and up-and-coming talents take to the decks. At this outdoor trance festival, you can feel the beats and the sand between your toes! Every summer edition is set to deliver blistering sets from big names.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Dutch industry was dependent on the import of iron and steel from other countries. Entrepreneur H.J.E Wenckebach decided to change that and set up his own steel ovens company. The factory is still in use and is a true monument of Dutch industrial heritage. The Hoogovens Museum is located in the factory’s old tube foundry, just outside Tata Steel. Learn about the raw history of the iron and steel industry in IJmuiden, musing over the objects, historical documents, photos and film material.
Culture lovers heading to Amsterdam Beach will be pleasantly surprised by County Estate Beeckestijn, an 18th-century summer residence in Velsen-Zuid. The estate is rich in history and features a massive, unique landscaped garden perfect for a midday stroll. An extended period of restoration in several stages, which started in 1969, will see the gardens restored to their former 18th-century glory. The combination of two styles - the geometric gardens in baroque style and the more playful landscaped garden - is unique in the Netherlands. Here you can find a rose garden with pergola, a herb garden with a serpentine wall, symmetrically shaped formal flower beds and a cherry garden. In addition, the gardens have been laid out with ponds, garden sculptures and original features, such as the ice house and the gardener’s cottage.
Pride at the Beach
Rain or shine, it's time to break out the beachwear in August as Queer & Pride Amsterdam heads to the beach at Zandvoort aan Zee. This three-day celebration of LGBTQI pride and diversity has a sun-soaked twist, encompassing a colourful parade and a variety of events, games and parties at the local beach bars.
Duin & Kruidberg
Duin & Kruidberg Country Estate is a beautiful estate with a rich history, located in the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park. The estate was bought by the later King Willem III in 1682 and was soon nicknamed 't Princenbosch, the prince’s forest. The prince used the country house as a hunting lodge and as a smaller version of Het Loo Palace. The mansion, which resembles a small castle, now houses a four-star hotel and several restaurants. It's perfect to visit after a walk or cycle tour in the Zuid-Kennemerland National Park.
An enjoyable cycle ride will bring you to the impressive Ruïne van Brederode in Santpoort-Zuid, a ruined medieval castle with a moat, dungeon and far-reaching views from its highest turret. Kids can dress up as a knight or damsel to explore the ruin’s many rooms and towers and play a range of traditional wooden games at the ye very olde outdoor café. If you’re lucky enough to visit in June, you’ll have the chance to watch the Knight's Tournament whilst other events and concerts are held at the ruin throughout the year.
Hans Davids Museum
Learn everything about Zandvoort’s heritage at this centre for art and culture, right in the middle of the town of Zandvoort and only a short walk from the beach. Zandvoorts Museum offers creative workshops, activities by the museum theatre and a temporary exhibition. Must do: go on one of the walks and guided tours through the old city centre.