Cultural tips for Amsterdam this Summer
From blockbuster dance events and major exhibitions to creative theatre fairs, outdoor cinema and open-air theatre in the park, the city’s cultural scene truly comes alive every summer. Here are our picks for what’s on in 2022 so we can all experience that festival feeling that Amsterdam does best. See you there!
One of the highlights of Amsterdam’s theatre and dance agenda, Holland Festival is held at various locations across the city. It offers a heady mix of theatre, music, opera, film and visual arts in various languages. With programming consistently emphasising disciplinary crossovers, the festival has been a frontrunner in supporting modern and non-classical contemporary music and new forms of musical theatre.
Whether you’re a die-hard theatre devotee or just along for the ride, there’s always something new and surprising to look out for at the De Parade performing arts festival. Once on the festival terrain in Martin Luther King Park, you’ll find yourself enticed by artists giving outdoor performances in full regalia with a variety of short and full-length performances, open-air shows and events at secret locations.
Kwaku Summer Festival
This multicultural gathering brings people together for a vibrant combination of food, drink, dance and sport in Nelson Mandela Park. The origins of Kwaku lie in celebrating the abolition of slavery in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles in 1863. One of the biggest draws is the street food vendors, many of which only participate in this annual event offering tasty treats from all over the globe.
Vondelpark Open Air Theatre
We all know it's officially summer when the Vondelpark Open-Air Theatre kickstarts its seasonal programme. Keep an eye on their weekend agenda for a range of children’s performances, comedy, dance, opera, classical music and unmissable pop concerts. You’ll find a lot going on every Saturday and Sunday until early September.
One of the cultural highlights of the summer is the Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival), held annually in August on and around Amsterdam’s historic waterways. This UNESCO World Heritage site hosts a ten-day festival of classical music at some marvellous locations which form the perfect backdrop for classical music. Concerts are performed on stages by or even on the water, as the musicians play on pontoons and the audience listens from the canal-side or their own boats.
Pride Amsterdam and Milkshake Festival
One of the biggest and best celebrations of gay pride around the globe, Pride Amsterdam attracts more than 350,000 participants and visitors who stay and play in Amsterdam. The city is a vibrant rainbow of events in gay and straight venues alike, with dance parties, film screenings, sporting events, debates, exhibitions and much more. Don’t miss one of its most famous highlights, the spectacular Canal Parade, where the floats actually float and the public line the lengths of the city’s canals to take in the spectacle. To coincide with this, Milkshake Festival in Westerpark is a multi-genre music event with a clear message where respect, freedom, love, tolerance and fun are of paramount importance.
This multi-day electronic music festival takes place each summer within the lush forest and grassy meadows of the Amsterdamse Bos in Amstelveen. Last years highlights included some of the biggest names in the industry including Jon Hopkins, Floating Points, Jeff Mills & Tony Allen, Jameszoo, Joy Orbison, Optimo, Andy Stott and Factory Floor. Camping tickets are also available!
Once Upon a Time
This summer, a pop-up exhibit of rare bronze mantel clocks has found its way to Museumplein. Once Upon a Time explores the themes of love, desire, jealousy, temptation and deceit - all represented by gods and heroes from classical antiquity.
This renowned international modern dance festival is set to return to a variety of locations around Amsterdam in the first two weeks of July, bringing with it the best of the global contemporary dance scene. This dance festival traditionally showcases the grandmasters of the dance scene, as well as breathtaking new talents in a host of Dutch or world premières.
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 in the middle of Dam Square. Witness the most powerful, moving and influential images taken by the most talented press photographers working around the world today. These photos generally tend to pack a punch!
Pluk de Nacht Film Festival
Amsterdam has a range of globally acclaimed festivals dedicated to everything from documentaries to the latest arthouse flicks. Pluk de Nacht brings not-yet-released films to Amsterdam’s summer nights at an idyllic waterside location with genres ranging from absurd rom-coms, indie and arthouse cinema to haunting horror flicks, documentaries or animation.
Boom Chicago Comedy Festival
Boom Chicago has been tickling the ribs of audiences for over 25 years with its combination of comedy, sketch and improv all performed in English. Shows touch on everything from Dutch culture to American politics, and many big names got their start here. Head down to the historic Rozengracht location for weekly shows and don’t miss the Boom Chicago Comedy Festival for improv, workshops and a downright good laugh.
The Other Story
Home to key works by the avant-garde cohort of the CoBrA art movement, this light-flooded museum is well worth the trip for any modern art enthusiast. This summer, The other story: Moroccan Modernism from 1956 to now brings together 40 artists – including Nour-Eddine Jarram, Khalil Nemmaoui and Wafae Ahalouch el Keriasti – to provide an overview of the development of modern Moroccan art from the country’s independence in 1956 to the present day.
In 2022, Almere will host Floriade, an international garden expo that takes place in the Netherlands every 10 years. This edition’s theme is ‘Growing Green Cities’, transforming some 60 hectares of land near Almere’s city centre into an innovative garden expo to showcase the importance of nature and greenery in the cities of the future. What’s more, almost everything built for this six-month-long event will become a permanent part of a new residential district. Visitors to the expo can also enjoy a spectacular gondola ride above the festival grounds on a purpose-built ropeway showcasing the potential for sustainable use of urban cable cars.
Over ‘t IJ Festival
Every July, Over ‘t IJ Festival brings a summery blend of location-specific theatre, one-off performances and fabulous food to a range of shipping container stages and pop-up venues spread across NDSM Wharf.
Red Light Jazz Festival
Red Light Jazz Festival is an annual event celebrating Amsterdam's position as a true jazz city. The festival aims to flaunt a more cultured side of the city's infamous Red Light District, highlighting its long and strong connection with jazz. Various historic venues dotted around Amsterdam's most notorious neighbourhood are the perfect location to feast on an exemplary line-up of big-name musicians as well as up-and-coming new talent.