Cultural tips for Amsterdam this Spring
Opera, techno, tulips and dressing up in orange, Amsterdam’s cultural agenda is suitably packed again for Spring 2023. You’ll find dance parties, food fairs, classical concerts and various outdoor events to keep you entertained, along with a whole heap of film festivals and art exhibitions. Here are a few highlights we’re looking forward to this season.
Amsterdam Art Week
Amsterdam’s art world will become a hive of activity again this Spring for the 11th edition of Amsterdam Art Week. This is your chance to see the work of talented artists over an extended weekend, with over 100 exhibitions, performances, screenings, and debates in the city’s top independent galleries and contemporary art spaces. Major events are usually organised at Foam, Oude Kerk, Stedelijk, EYE Filmmuseum and many more, whilst acclaimed art institutions such as the Rijksakademie and De Ateliers also open their doors to introduce visitors to work being produced within.
Amsterdam’s music festival season opens in mid-April with DGTL a three-day event dedicated to underground electronic music which takes place at the NDSM Docklands. Next up is Awakenings, the country’s most legendary techno event which will be returning to the iconic Gashouder venue this year with another special line-up full of surprises and special guests. Later, Lente Kabinet (the little sister festival to Dekmantel) unfolds in the stunning surroundings of Het Twiske. This is followed by Amsterdam Open Air Festival which lights up the stunning Gaasperpark with a versatile agenda of electronic music, pop, Latin and Afro genres across ten stages.
Spring in the Netherlands is packed full of national holidays. On King's Day (April 27), over a million orange-clad revellers descend onto the streets and canals for markets, parties and family events across the city. A few weeks later, Amsterdam’s citizens pause to pay their respects to civilians and members of the armed forces who have died in conflicts (May 4) with a national Remembrance Day ceremony at Dam Square. Then it's time for a national party on May 5, as the crowds take to the streets to celebrate the liberation of the Netherlands (Bevrijdingsdag) at the end of World War II.
The free Rollende Keukens (Rolling Kitchens) food festival sees dozens of mobile kitchens and food trucks pop up at Westergas to create one enormous open-air restaurant. Sample a little of everything from the festival-sized smorgasbord, including all kinds of cuisines from Thai to tapas and Texan BBQ. Bands perform to exuberant crowds looking to dance off the delicacies they’ve divulged throughout the day, and the event runs late into the evening.
Kaboom Animation Festival
This progressive and inclusive festival celebrates animation in all of its glorious shapes and sizes. The programme combines cutting-edge experimental arthouse movies with the very best of what animation has to offer. Think fun, art, awe and wonder, on the big screen and behind it, and for all generations.
Open Tower Day
The perfect chance to see Amsterdam from a new perspective, historic and modern towers in Amsterdam open their doors to the public for Open Tower Day. Along with sky-high views, this year’s 10th-anniversary edition will include various symposiums, tours and lectures.
What started in 1996 as a very small-scale underground festival aimed at the gay and lesbian community has grown into the largest, longest-running and most successful LGBTQ+ film festival in the Netherlands. The 26th edition of Roze Filmdagen (Pink Film Days) will include 140 long and short films from all over the world. The festival shows stories that everyone can identify with, but always with a focus on the LGBTQ+ community.
Nowhere is the Dutch cult of the tulip celebrated more gloriously than at the Keukenhof Gardens, located in the bulb region south of Amsterdam. Open for just eight weeks each year, visitors will be staggered by seven million blooms planted across the 32-hectare park. Whilst you can easily spend an entire day in the gardens, but the rest of Lisse and the surrounding Flower Strip is also well worth exploring.
Attend the battle between Mozart and Salieri! During Opera Week in the Luther Museum, two operas will be performed under the artistic direction of Jeroen Sarphati, with the audience deciding for themselves which piece was the best.
Opera Forward Festival
Urgent, compelling and extravagant: the seventh edition of the Opera Forward Festival (OFF) once again promises a defiant exploration of uncharted territory. With ground-breaking music theatre productions, distinctive performances and in-depth programmes, audiences can discover new sounds in the world of opera. Immerse yourself in musical performances and presentations by both established names and a new generation of creatives.
Open Garden Days
Snoop around the pristine gardens of some of Amsterdam’s finest canal houses, many of which are closed to the public, except on these special Open Garden Days in June. Hidden behind the stately façades of these impressive canal-side homes, visitors can step into a quiet green oasis of peace and tranquility.
Record Store Day
This annual event honours Amsterdam’s independent record stores with many special vinyl releases and in-store performances taking place across the city. Spend the Saturday hopping between stores digging for never-before-released gems, new songs, remixes and more unique items. Various shop floors will be turned into intimate stages with more than 250 performances taking place across the day.
World Press Photo
Every year, World Press Photo returns home for its flagship exhibition, specially designed for the space of De Nieuwe Kerk, a 15th-century church parked in the middle of Dam Square. Witness the most powerful, moving and influential images taken by the most talented press photographers worldwide today. These photos generally tend to pack a punch, so be sure to bring some tissues with you!
World Press Photo | 13 April - 12 August, De Nieuwe Kerk