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Dutch Nationale Opera & Ballet dancers on stage for Frida performance
Image from Hans Gerritsen

Culture Guide (February 2024)

Begin 2024 on a cultural high with our guide to the capital’s best offerings across art, photography, language-no-problem theatre and even burlesque. There's so much to explore in Amsterdam that you never knew existed!

ART & EXHIBITIONS

Cosmic Realism

Cosmic Realism: Paravel and Castaing-Taylor exhibition at EYE Filmmuseum 2024. Sheep Rushes (2009) by Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Image from Lucien Castaing-Taylor

Go beyond the human gaze at EYE Filmmuseum’s latest exhibition, which combines anthropology, visual arts and documentary into one subversive package. Designed by trained anthropologists Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Cosmic Realism takes you through seven immersive installations to discover what the world looks like from non-human perspectives. Gripping, challenging and a little otherworldly, this one’s for the experimental art lovers.

Cosmic Realism | until 20 May | EYE Filmmuseum

Frans Hals: Way Ahead of his Time

Frans Hals, A Militiaman holding a Berkemeyer, known as the ‘Merry Drinker’, c. 1629.
Image from Rijksmuseum / Kelly Schenk

Around 50 works by celebrated painter Frans Hals arrive at the Rijksmuseum in a dedicated showcase of the Haarlem artist dubbed ‘the master of the laugh’. His loose, impressionist style gave life to the subjects he painted, from musicians to sombre state officials, and left behind a lively legacy that still enraptures people today. Organised in collaboration with London’s National Gallery, this will be the first time Hals’ seminal The Laughing Cavalier returns to the Netherlands since 1870.

Frans Hals | 16 February - 9 June | Rijksmuseum

Forever and a day

Image from Mila Teshaieva

It's unbelievable, but life in Ukraine continues as normal, and so does the art. Many artists have remained in the country. But what does the incessant stress, insecurity and hopelessness do to you? The war started two years ago on a February night. On the day of the exhibition opening, it is February 694, because that is what the war feels like for the Ukrainians.

Forever and a day | until February 25 | Melkweg Expo

FOAM Talent

Image from Marisol Mendez

Showcasing the work of 20 artists from across the globe, FOAM Talent is a group exhibition by some of the world’s most innovative creatives. With almost 50,000 photographs on display, the images reflect the times we live in, covering topics like gender roles, colonialism and digital democratisation.

FOAM Talent | 23 February - 22 May | Foam

Tang Zhiqian

For his first European exhibition, Chinese artist and collector Tang Zhiqian takes over Huis Vasari, presenting a staggering collection of objects amassed during his travels and trips to antique markets. Normally the collection is housed in several warehouses in China, with tens of thousands of objects covering a 3000 m2 surface area. The spectacle includes an installation of over 100 bells that hang together like a forest. 

Tang Zhiqian | from 26 January | Huis Vasari

Grand March

Grand March: A Historic House through a Ballroom Lens exhibition at Huis Willet-Holthuysen
Image from House of Vineyard, 2023, Bete van Meeuwen

Co-curated by House of Vineyard (the first ballroom house in the Netherlands), the period rooms of Huis Willet-Holthuysen are given over to radical fashion interventions, jewellery, photography and visual art installations. The exhibition takes a contemporary lens to explore ballroom culture, created for and by Black and Latinx-American trans women and queer people in 1970s New York. Themes of resistance, community-building, and self-expression are central.

Grand March: A Historic House through a Ballroom Lens | until 31 December | Huis Willet-Holthuysen

THEATRE & STAGE

Queertopia

Image from Nikki Sluiter

Set within an alternate reality in which sexuality is a choice, rediscover yourself and enter into the conversion in this immersive theatrical experience. With the audience, creators Luit Bakker and Bart van de Woestijne search for a new language of loving. 

Queertopia | 25 January - 3 February | Frascati

Julie

Julie theatre performance at ITA
Image from Fabian Calis

In a kitchen on a midsummer evening, three characters rebound between love and hate, desire and repulsion, reckless confidence and paralysing fear in Rebecca Frecknall’s contemporary adaptation of August Strindberg's famous play. English surtitled performances are on 29 February and 7 March. 

Julie | 21 February - 10 March | Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (ITA)

Ghost Box

Ghost Box theater performance at Theater Bellevue
Image from Layza Vasconcelos

Mixing foam rubber sculptures, hip-hop dance and technology, this modular walkthrough performance moves the audience through a post-apocalyptic, cyberpunk world to interrogate the notion of ‘being human’.

Ghost Box | 20-21 February | Theater Bellevue

Frida

Frida performance at Dutch National Opera & Ballet
Image from Hans Gerritsen

The now internationally resonant ballet production is a vibrant ode to the iconic 20th-century painter, telling the story of her fascinating but fiercely tragic life. With designer Dieuweke van Reij and composer Peter Salem, Lopez Ochoa makes the magic of Frida Kahlo's world tangible.

Frida | 8-25 February | National Opera & Ballet

Games in Concert

Games in Concert at Carre

The Smartphone and Metropole Orchestras showcase the drama of gaming music whilst the audience plays a specially designed game that determines the musical score. The result is an entirely unexpected and sometimes hilarious concert experience.

Games in Concert | 7 February | Royal Theatre Carré

Breathe - Kalpanarts & Matangi

Breathe dance performance at Biljmerparktheater
Image from Bowie Verschuuren

Five dancers and the Matangi musicians explore ways to achieve freedom and tranquillity through breathing. Forming a hybrid dance language, Indian dance styles and rhythms are combined with urban and contemporary forms.

Breathe | 7 February | Bijlmerparktheater

Basketmouth: Cancel Culture

Basketmouth comedian performance at Boom Chicago

Hailing from Nigeria, Bright, a.k.a ‘Basketmouth’ Okpocha, performs his new comedy special as part of his European tour. Expect a night of tongue-in-cheek social comedy, storytelling and sarcasm as the comedian showcases political incorrectness at its best.

Basketmouth | 29 February | Boom Chicago

FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Amsterdam Burlesque Festival

Image from Helena Vegter

Be captivated by a weekend of sensational shows, wild parties and workshops as top performers embrace body positivity and sensuality with humour and flair. Celebrate the art of seduction and the freedom of the body in all forms, sizes, and ages.

Amsterdam Burlesque Festival | 16-18 Feburary | various locations

Sonic Acts Biennial

This 30th-anniversary edition brings immersive audio-visual installations, theatrical productions, club nights, a symposium, sound and field walks, workshops and much more to various cultural spaces in Amsterdam. The programme runs from 2 February to 24 March, with an intensive festival weekend from 23 to 25 February.

Sonic Acts | 2 February - 24 March | various locations