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Visitors looking at photos in exhibition at World Press Photo 2023 in De Nieuwe Kerk
Image from Frank van Beek

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 2024 so we can all experience that festival feeling that Amsterdam does best. See you there!

Holland Festival

Flags along the river for Holland Festival
Image from Nicola Mamati

One of the highlights of Amsterdam’s theatre and dance agenda is the city-wide Holland Festival, which offers a heady mix of theatre, music, opera, film and visual arts, and international performance pieces in various languages. Since its inception in 1947, the programming has consistently emphasised cross-disciplinary art. This year marks the 77th edition and will kick off with a 50-strong piano concert, a visual performance of an Armenian folk tale and an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, to name a few. 

Holland Festival | 6-29 June 2024, various locations

Summer Dance Forever

International dance festival Summer Dance Forever returns to Paradiso for a riotous celebration of hip-hop moves. Dancers from all over the world land for this week-long event that covers everything from dance battles on the atmospheric Paradiso stage to workshops on European hip-hop and curated club nights. Grab your comfiest sneakers for what’s bound to be a high-energy and exhilarating few days. 

Summer Dance Forever | 20 - 26 August 2024, Paradiso

De Parade

De Parade 2023 theatre performing arts festival in Martin Luther King Park
Image from Sophie Simao

Travelling theatre festival De Parade once again sets up its tents for the summer as it lands in Zuidoost’s Martin Luther King Park. With over 80 performances across dance, music, theatre, stand-up, spoken word and even mime, this is a genuine cultural experience for all, whether you’re a die-hard theatre devotee or just along for the ride.

De Parade | 16 August - 1 September 2024, Martin Luther King Park

Kwaku Summer Festival

People dancing at Kwaku festival
Image from Style and Still - Amie Galbraith

Zuidoost staple Kwaku enters its seventh edition for a riotous celebration of culture, food and sport. What began as a small, local football tournament has evolved into one of the country’s largest festivals, though the football tournament still makes up a crucial part of the event’s distinct flavour. The tantalising aromas of Surinamese, Asian, South American, Caribbean and African food are another key focus, and the various food stalls remain one of the festival’s biggest draws. Each year, disco and funk legends (think Shalamar and Sister Sledge) complete the main stage line-up for some guaranteed summer groove. 

Kwaku | 13 July - 4 August 2024, Nelson Mandela Park

Vondelpark Open Air Theatre

Vondelpark Openlucht open-air theatre classical music
Image from Vondelpark Openlucht 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 various children’s performances, comedy, dance, opera, classical music and unmissable pop concerts. You’ll find a lot going on every Saturday and Sunday from June until early September.

Vondelpark Open-Air Theatre | June - September 2023, Vondelpark


Image from Merijn Roubroeks

It wouldn’t be Amsterdam without music on the canals. Luckily, Grachtenfestival returns for its 27th edition in August, when musicians from around the world perform at 30 different locations along the city’s watery belt. Don’t miss the iconic Prinsengracht Concert (24 August), where locals and visitors huddle on boats along the canal for a spectacular classical music show. 

Grachtenfestival | 23 August - 1 September 2024, various locations

Queer & Pride Amsterdam

A group of people in a boat with flags and signs - Pride Canal Parade
Image from Jan de Ridder

One of the world’s biggest celebrations of LGBTQI+ equality, Queer & Pride Amsterdam lights up the city every year with dance parties, film screenings, sporting events, debates, exhibitions and much more. Take part in the Pride Walk, discover the festivities during Pride at the Beach and show your support at the Canal Parade (4 August). All are welcome, and there's something for everyone.

Queer & Pride Amsterdam | 27 July - 4 August 2024, citywide locations
Pride at the Beach | 28 - 30 July 2024, Zandvoort
Milkshake Festival | 27 - 28 July 2024, Westerpark


Dekmantel Festival in the woods Amsterdamse Bos
Image from Dennis Branko

This multi-day electronic music festival takes place each August and grows in scope and popularity yearly. With the Amsterdamse Bos still serving as the festival's bucolic base, Dekmantel has added several other locations for their Dekmantel aan ‘t IJ programme (2-3 August). These include Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Tolhuistuin, Parallel and Shelter, where you’ll find close listening sessions, live concerts, lectures and film screenings.

Dekmantel | 26 July - 4 August 2024, various locations


Ballet dancers practicing.
Image from Jan de Ridder

The capital’s leading contemporary dance festival, Julidans, is about breaking free from the norm. With over 40 performances across 14 separate Amsterdam locations – and International Theatre Amsterdam at the heart of it – Julidans’s characteristically idiosyncratic and boundless programme proves that dancing does, in fact, take guts.

Julidans | 7-21 July 2024, various locations

World Press Photo

Visitors looking at photos in exhibition at World Press Photo 2023 in De Nieuwe Kerk
Image from Frank van Beek

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!

World Press Photo | 1 May - 30 June 2024, De Nieuwe Kerk

Pluk de Nacht Film Festival

Pluk de Nacht film festival
Image from Cloud Mine Photography - Melanie Lemahieu

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.

Pluk de Nacht | 21 - 31 August 2024, Stenen Hoofd

Red Light Jazz Festival

Image from Gerhard Richter

Experience Amsterdam's most notorious neighbourhood come alive during the annual Red Light Jazz Festival, which takes place in June across the Red Light District. Expect a cool lineup of jazz musicians throughout the weekend, showcasing the district’s rich jazz tradition, which spans back to the 1930s. The concert programme is partly free and partly paid, with performances in all manner of venues, from sweaty dive bars to iconic theatres and churches with superb acoustics.

Red Light Jazz Festival | 7-9 June 2024, various locations around De Wallen (Red Light District)