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Mercatorplein lights christmas art installation at night
Image from Koen Smilde

All lit up: best spots to see holiday lights in Amsterdam

As the holiday season blossom across Amsterdam, the city is set aglow with dazzling Christmas trees, strands of twinkling fairy lights, and hundreds of illuminated art installations. We’ve put together a selection of locations across the city that are alive with light to brighten your winter nights. Here is your not-to-be-missed illumination itinerary!

Amsterdam Light Festival

Amsterdam Light Festival - Spider On The Bridge
Image from Koen Smilde

This year the Amsterdam Light Festival has been trimmed down as a result of COVID-19, forgoing the usual canal tours in favour of an interactive walking route. On the plus side, the seven installations are spread out more evenly throughout the city, making them easier to access for residents across Amsterdam. Inspired by this year’s theme, When Nature Calls, the works are sure to inspire and entice. Experience them through the end of January.

Turning on the lights

Christmas Tree Palace and Nieuwe Kerk at Dam Square 2016
Image from Koen Smilde

Every year Dutch department store De Bijenkorf marks the beginning of the festive season by lighting up the store’s majestic façade with hundreds of thousands of energy-efficient LED lights. It certainly makes a beautiful impression and is the perfect backdrop for the massive all-lit-up Christmas tree on Dam Square. Along with De Bijenkorf, many other prominent buildings get into the Christmas spirit with bauble-laden trees and elaborate light installations, making a stroll through the city a bewitching affair.

Utrechtsestraat

Christmas decoration in the city
Image from Koen Smilde

Utrechtsestraat is one of Amsterdam’s most charming streets, with its fantastic mix of bars, cafes, hip shops and boutiques. During the holiday season, it becomes an enchanting winter wonderland with decorations crisscrossing the street from end to end. Take a stroll down this lovely lane starting at Rembrandtplein and admire the stunning shop windows of small specialist stores.

Shopping streets

Lights in the winter at Christmas in the PC Hooftstraat shopping street
Image from Koen Smilde

It’s not just the Utrechtsestraat that puts on a show, many other streets pull out all the stops creating wonderful street scenes that evoke the festive season. Get out your walking shoes and mosey down luxury shopping street P.C. Hooftstraat, the Spiegelgracht, hip-and-happening HaarlemmerstraatAlbert Cuypstraat and the 9 Streets. There will be decorations aplenty to warm your spirits.

Water view

Scenic view of Amsterdam city and the river Amstel bridge at night (it's the Magere brug)
Image from Koen Smilde

It is a magical time in the city, and nothing is more magical than how the canals come alight. Take a romantic walk along the canals and Amstel to see the light-strewn canals and lit-up bridges. When Amsterdam is all dressed up in lights and glittering in winter finery, it truly shines.