Family-friendly festivals in Amsterdam
The most successful outings are those that tick boxes for everyone. With that in mind, here are a few of our very favourite grown-up Amsterdam festivals that are brilliantly suitable for the minis.
No mention of Amsterdam festivals is complete without a reference to The Big K which kids absolutely love. When they were very young, they used to sit on the back of the bike and take in the orange hum as we cycled past the spectacle. As they've grown from toddlers into hustlers, they've discovered the joys of selling their wares at the vrijmarket - and then spending all their earnings (and more) on replacing them with pre-loved delights. Over the next few years, it will be time to move into the Vondelpark - creating games and contests, baking and selling cookies or performing for the crowds. If you're looking for a kid-friendly patch to hang out for the whole day, why not head East to the free Bredeweg Festival. A child-friendly fiesta packed with markets, fairs, street food, storytellers, face painters, puppeteers, circus, craft workshops, dance, choirs and even a contortionist maharajah. This is a party like no other. Get it right, and there’s no denying that Kings' Day is one of the most child-friendly festivals in the world.
Rollende Keukens (Rolling Kitchens)
Roll up roll up for food trucks galore. There’s something for everyone including the pickiest of palettes at this free five-day foodie-fest at the Westergasfabriek, packed with snacks from the Netherlands’ finest mobile eateries.
Rollende Keukens | May | Westerpark
Head to the River IJ on Ascension Day for a magical festival packed with family delights. The NDSM Wharf becomes a fairy-tale forest full of bands, DJs and entertainment with “Gnomes and Leprechauns under 12” admitted for free. Expect music and magic, cats and curiosities, bears and dens and bubbles as well as lots of big kids enjoying playing at being little kids.
Hemeltjelief | May | NDSM
World music takes centre stage in the Oosterpark each year when the Amsterdam Roots festival comes to town. Offering world culture alongside world music, it’s the perfect starter-festival for curious chicos and chicas. As well as a broad and accessible music programme you'll find a dedicated children's stage, kids' workshops and an extensive circus programme. They pride themselves on an having an incredibly varied audience, spanning all ages and backgrounds so it’s the perfect way to introduce little ones to a slice of diversity and vibrant multi-culture.
The Netherlands’ much-loved travelling theatre festival hits Amsterdam with open-air performances, colourful fairground tents, mysterious happenings, a carousel and food that ranges from small bites to banquets. Harking back to the carnivals and travelling caravan theatres of old, this wonderful festival which visits four of the Netherlands' biggest cities, ends every year with a spectacular finale in Martin Luther King park. Expect bohemian hipsters, lots of families and great people-watching opportunities. For little ones, activities kick off in the afternoon with costume-making, poffertje-baking and a chance to order a crepe shaped like your favourite animal or superhero (!) Those looking for hands-on fun can have a go at carpentry and painting at Villa Lila, or why not steer restless boogie-babies towards the Silent Disco and a big dance-off with Samba Salad. The theatre tents are also a must-visit with a full programme for kids.
De Parade | August | Zuid
- Laid-back parents who like a glass of something chilled insist that both Bacchus (the wine festival in The Amsterdamse Bos) and The Wild West Brew Fest in Bose n Lommer are surprisingly family-friendly.
- If your kids are active why not take them along to watch (or even participate in!) the Amsterdam City Swim, Amsterdam Marathon or Dam tot Damloop run. All have junior events for younger sportsters.
- Those who love to see the canals and waterways come to life will enjoy floats that really do float at Gay Pride, the Grachtenfestival, the Amsterdam Light Festival and once every 5 years the unique and extraordinary Sail Amsterdam.
- For festivals aimed specifically at children be sure to check out the Junior Uitmarkt in August, Cinekids in November; and of course the arrival of Sinterklaas otherwise known as the Intocht in December.
- For Dutch speakers the Verhalen Festival at the Westergasfabriek is not to be missed! A cluster of seven cosy yurts create a little village to showcase storytelling in all its forms. Join in and set your imagination free.