Things to do in the Leidsebuurt (Theatre District)
By day, the area around Leidseplein is known for its shopping and sun-soaked terraces. As night falls, Leidsebuurt transforms into a lively entertainment district as people flock to the neon-lit signs of bars, clubs, cinemas and gig venues. Several top performing arts institutions are clustered here, earning this quarter the title of Amsterdam's theatre district.
Catch performances by a new generation of theatre-makers
Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (ITA) is a leading light for the future of performing arts in the Netherlands. Known for its ensemble of world-famous actors and pioneering directors, catching a performance in their monumental theatre space on Leidseplein will undoubtedly keep you on the edge of your seat. Check their website for English-language shows and selected surtitled performances. The stage here is also one of the key locations for performances during the Holland Festival and The Nederlands Theater Festival.
Grab tickets for a musical or cabaret show
One of Amsterdam's latest theatrical additions to the district, the impressive building of the DeLaMar Theater close to Leidseplein, is a real show-stopper. The theatre draws in the crowds and a flurry of international and national theatre, musical and dance companies for a massive array of shows. So be sure to keep your eye on the agenda for beautiful musicals, impressive theatre and hilarious cabaret.
Kick back with a movie
Nestled amongst the bars and shopping areas, Pathé City is a central cinema offering a cosy place to put your feet up (not literally) away from the bustling Leidseplein. On the menu, you’ll find a great mix of mainstream films and the occasional art-house flick. The halls are over 85 years old, but the theatre has recently been given a complete makeover with luxurious armchairs complete with a handy table for eating and drinking.
Feel part of music history
Amsterdam's most iconic music venue, Paradiso, is a former church that was squatted in the 1960s and grew into a renowned performance space where all the greats have played. The building holds onto its religious history through the large stained-glass panels that loom behind the performers, as well as two levels of balconies that transform any concert into a reverential affair. Lesser-known bands and DJs typically play in the basement and smaller upstairs rooms.
Venture onto the dancefloor
Melkweg takes its name from the Milky Way galaxy – but the name also reflects the building's history as a former dairy factory. This leading music venue hosts a broad range of gigs and club nights catering to all genres, from hip-hop and dubstep to the latest pop and singer-songwriter acts. You’ll also find a cinema dedicated to music documentaries, Restaurant MILK and the gallery space Melkweg EXPO for emerging, home-grown photographers.
Step back in time to Rembrandt’s Amsterdam
Step back 350 years in time at the spectacular 5D Rembrandt’s Amsterdam and take a journey through the life of Amsterdam's most famous painter. Enter the studio, where you’ll meet Rembrandt, his mistress Hendrickje, his son Titus and his daughter Cornelia. Eager to discover more? There’s also a walking tour that guides you through Rembrandt’s Amsterdam.
Debate politics at De Balie
Located in a former courthouse close to Leidseplein, De Balie is home to a daily offering of debates, seminars, theatre productions and films. The varied programme is aimed at a wide audience, primarily focused on social, cultural and political issues. Whilst the programme is often produced in Dutch, there is plenty to offer to English- speaking visitors, for example, screenings and lectures by foreign guests in the De Balie Icons series.
Eat your fill of dim sum
Leidsebuurt has no shortage of restaurants to fill your belly before an evening of entertainment. Full Moon Garden has a staggering 80 types of dim sum to choose from, from steamed dumplings to sweet buns to savoury noodles and deep-fried wontons. They also serve a wide range of classic Cantonese dishes, including sizzling wok stir-fries and clay pots. Or for a higher-end meal, there’s no better place to dine than Ron Gastrobar Oriental, which offers fusion plates like tempura quail, creative dim sum and Peking duck.
Watch a jam session in a cosy jazz club
Live jazz awaits you every night at CafeAlto, a jazz cafe hailing back to 1953. Doors open at 21.00 and the music starts at 22.00 and goes till 02.00 (and till 03.00 during the weekend). Early Monday evenings are reserved for jazz sessions, going on from 18:00 to 20:00. You can expect a range of artists in jazz and blues, from young up-and-comers to experienced professionals performing in a cosy bohemian setting.
Upgrade your wardrobe on Leidsestraat
Leidsestraat is one of Amsterdam’s main shopping arteries offering fashion-hunters a great range of international brands and exclusive shops like Hugo Boss, Ted Baker, COS and Levis. Whether you’re looking for a trendy pair of jeans, some flashy trainers or the perfect new cocktail dress - you’ll be sure to find it on this bustling shopping street.