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Discover Amsterdam
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Live, Work and Study
Amsterdam Light Festival projection display of the Starry Night
Image from Koen Smilde

Cultural tips for Amsterdam this winter

There’s plenty to see and do this winter in Amsterdam. From unwinding in nature to exploring the city's amazing cultural institutions, here are a few highlights we're looking forward to this season. Make the most of the festive season with these tips for exploring the Dutch capital this winter!

Hortus by Night

Hortus by Night botanical gardens
Image from Jan Jaap Hubeek

This winter, it’s time to get cosy at one of the world’s oldest botanical gardens, Hortus Botanicus, as the doors remain open until late for Hortus by Night (21 December - 7 January). Venture through the beautifully lit greenhouses as you discover ancient palms, tropical plants and a spectacular exhibition by London-based CGI artist Markos Kay. Using computer-generated images, Kay takes viewers on an enchanting journey through evolutionary biology and plant-animal relationships. Cuddle up by the campfire with a hot chocolate on the winter terrace and experience exclusive exhibitions featuring night-blooming flowers and much more. 

World Christmas Circus

Koninklijk Theater Carré outside of theatre at night
Image from Jan de Ridder

For decades, the World Christmas Circus (20 December - 7 January) at Royal Theater Carré has been one of the most popular family outings during the festive period. Marvel at the flying trapeze artists, star clowns, enchanting costumes, horse whisperers and daredevils as awarding-winning acts from the most prominent circus festivals worldwide join forces into one spectacular show.


The National Opera & Ballet at nightfall, seen from a distance. This cultural institution is located at the Amstel river, close to Waterlooplein in the city centre.
Image from Jan de Ridder

With its lively character dances, stylish sets, many ballerina variations and beautiful dream sequences, this reinvigoration of Marius Petipa’s 19th-century ballet classic, Raymonda (9 December - 1 January), promises a magical outing at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet this winter. Acclaimed choreographer Rachel Beaujean re-adapts a somewhat outdated storyline for contemporary audiences as the young Hungarian grand duchess ‘Raymonda’ eschews tradition and makes her own decisions on the path of love.

Piano Duo Festival

Four hands are better than two at the Piano Duo Festival (6-9 December), covering everything from classical and jazz to film and tango with performances at locations across Amsterdam. Under the festival theme, Where opposites meet, the festival brings its musicians, audience and different music styles together in unique concerts - from very grand to intimate. Special attention is paid to two anniversary years: 150 years of Sergei Rachmaninoff and 100 years of Simeon ten Holt.

Amsterdam Light Festival

Boat tour at the canal passing the - Two Lamps
Image from Koen Smilde photography

During Amsterdam Light Festival (30 November - 21 January), the city becomes a real-life fairy tale, sparkling with glowing artworks illuminating the city’s historic bridges and waterfronts. Installations adorn the canal ring, the River Amstel and the Eastern Docklands, taking the city’s already stunning night-time sights to an entirely new level. During the 12th edition, 20 artworks will consider the implication of Artificial Intelligence in everyday life, questioning the impact of technology on the human condition. The artworks can be admired by organised boat tours or on foot.


Image from Tom Doms

The RAI transforms into a winter wonderland during Winterparadijs (14-31 December) with indoor and outdoor ice-skating rinks, parties in the Après-Ski Village, dining options galore and fairground rides overlooking the city. Tube across real (fake) snow, cross-country ski between the fir trees, roast marshmallows over a crackling fire, practice your curling skills or goof off with a classic snowball fight. When it's all too much fun, head into the Winter Cinema for nostalgic festive classics.

National Tulip Day

Image from Pauline Arkesteijn

To kick off the tulip season, Dutch growers invite everyone to pick a bunch of tulips for free in a specially constructed picking garden at Museumplein for National Tulip Day (20 January). In 2024, National Tulip Day will return to the city for its 11th edition with a new theme. Together with tens of thousands of visitors, the Dutch tulip growers ensure a colourful start to the new season.

Get cultural at Museumplein

As the name suggests, you’ll find some of the city’s most famous museums on this green square in Oud-Zuid:

  • Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (29 September - 14 January) at Rijksmuseum - acclaimed work from the collection of Rotterdam’s Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen including Bosch, Rubens, Bruegel, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet, Mondriaan, Munch and Dalí. 
  • Nan Goldin (7 October - 28 January) at Stedelijk Museum - the first comprehensive retrospective of the acclaimed American artist’s film pieces and slideshows, whose challenging explorations of human existence have inspired generations.
  • Van Gogh along the Seine (13 October - 14 January) at Van Gogh Museum - Seurat, Signac, Bernard, Angrand and the man himself, Van Gogh captured the changing landscape outside of Paris.

See the best photography

Amsterdam packs the punches when it comes to photography. With several museums dedicated to the medium, along with major festivals and commercial galleries, there’s always something to see:

  • Eddo Hartmann (28 October - 25 February) at Huis Marseille - Hartmann’s latest multimedia project investigates ecocide and the devastating legacy of nuclear testing in Kazakhstan.
  • Carlijn Jacobs (6 October - 21 January) at Foam - Jacobs’s quirky yet alienating images invite viewers into a dream-like world where anything is possible.

Get out of town

Installation view of Kosmogonie: Zinsou – een Afrikaanse kunstcollectie Cosmogony: Zinsou -- an African art colleciton contemporary art exhibition in October 2022
Image from peter tijhuis
  • Tonia. Model and activist (17 October - 17 March) at Singer Laren - Delve into the fascinating life and work of Tonia Stieltjes (1881-1932), who posed for Jan Sluijters - the best friend of Mondriaan. 
  • Anton Corbijn (22 December - 12 May) at Cobra - Corbijn's extensive oeuvre explores the crossover between photography and the fashion world including iconic portraits of Kate Moss, Tom Waits, Alexander McQueen and Naomi Campbell.
  • Wybrand Hendriks was here! (23 September - 7 January) at Teylers Museum - a fascinating retrospective of the imaginative and versatile work of Wybrand Hendriks (1744-1831), the artist, collector and former resident of the Pieter Teylers Huis.