Amsterdam Travel Guide



New Year's Eve
New Years Eve, (or as the perverse Dutch like to call it; 'Old Year's Night') is one of the few occasions that the Dutch really lose their inhibitions and go wild in public. The red pulp littering the streets on 1st January is the result of Chinese firecrackers being thrown at everything and everyone the night before, (so don't take your favourite Dachshund out for a walk at midnight on 31st December anywhere in Holland). The whole of Amsterdam turns into a friendly war zone with many bars staying open until 3am, but revellers don't seem to get too unruly. However, it can feel a bit scary with fireworks being lit in the middle of crowded squares and some visitors miss the spectacular professional displays organised by city councils elsewhere in Europe.

New Year's Day North Sea Dive
If you manage to survive the gunpowder and anarchy the night before, you can always get up at the crack of dawn on New Year's Day to go to Scheveningen Beach near Den Haag. You can watch the brave (eccentric?) divers with their red pom-pom hats take their annual dip in the sea. Check out for photographs of some freezing but happy Dutch people.


Rotterdam International Film Festival
Rotterdam hosts a strangely unseasonable Film festival at the end of January. It may not be as glamorous (or as warm) as Cannes, but you do get to see some impressive new releases, and the film world certainly takes it seriously. (Actually, cold, dark winters are ideal for sitting in a warm auditorium watching a movie, followed by a drink of hot mulled wine). Over two hundred films are shown, and as there isn't much else going on at this time of year, most of the work on show is a welcome distraction from post Christmas blues. Talks and media seminars are also held, so budding filmmakers and students find this an ideal opportunity to mingle with up-and-coming directors. Tickets for screenings are very cheap, too.

HISWA Boat Fair
The most magnificent sailing boats, beautiful yachts, speedboats and motorboats can be found under one roof every February in Amsterdam. There will also be all the latest information about the best sailing routes, the world's finest yacht harbours and hundreds of stalls selling water sport accessories. Come and get some advice on how to sail round the world or where to find a little boat to just sail along the canals. The Dutch are passionate about boating and so you'll find some of the most up-to-date floating machines around.
Exhibition Centre De RAI, Europacomplex
Tel 020 549-1212


European Fine Art Fair
One of the most important events in the year for art dealers and serious buyers is the European Fine Art Fair. For ten days around 200 galleries from 13 countries will be presenting fabulous paintings, antiques, and objets d'art from the top end of the market. This is not a car boot sale (You have to wait until April for the world's biggest second hand street market in Holland), but a unique opportunity to view some finely crafted items whilst enjoying one of the loveliest cities in Europe.
The fair takes place at Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands, in the MECC exhibition centre.
Tel 043 38386666 or

Binnen en Buitenhuis (Home and Garden Fair)
In early March Rotterdam hosts a huge home and garden festival. This won't be your boring frilly lampshade and garden gnome event but fashionable interior design stores showing work by their hottest talent. If you are moving house or just want a new bath towel, this is the place to come and be inspired. Everything is under one roof, so even if the Dutch March rain is pelting down outside, you can wander round the stylish displays and sample Dutch coffee at the many bars inside the hall.
010 2425310
Rotterdam Centraal Station and metro

Keukenhof Gardens
From March to May every year seven million bulb flowers bloom in this 32-hectare park. This 'kitchen garden' was opened in 1949 and has been one of the main attractions for visitors to Holland. The tulips are planted in layers, so for eight weeks there is a constant supply of stunning flowers.
Take a train to Leiden and bus 54 direct to Keukenhof every half hour.


Queen's Day
If there is one day in the year when you really want to party in Amsterdam, it has to be 29th April, Queen's Day. The entire country was given a bank holiday for the Queen Mother's birthday many years ago and ever since, the Dutch turn the entire country into a huge street market and knees-up. The festivities start with hundreds of live bands playing in the street the evening before, and for serious clubbing, everyone goes to Panama or other large venues. (Posters can be found plastered up all over the city for the hottest raves). Leave your bicycle and credit cards at home, as these won't be needed. (It gets very crowded, as at least an extra million visitors descend on Amsterdam for a couple of nights). There won't be many trams running, but everyone is good-natured, if rather inebriated. You may find yourself in a cream cheese or raw egg fight near Leideseplein, but it won't look out of place today if you take all your designer clothes off round here. Book accommodation well in advance!

Space Expo, Space Day
Around 14th April every year a space travel fair is held in Noordwijk. This is a fascinating day out for children or adults interested in science and science fiction. More information available (on their premium rate line): 0900 87654321 or

Leidsch Dagblad Singelloop (Canal run in Leiden)
The sober citizens of Leiden organise a local canal run in mid April. The 6.8km route goes past some lovely waterways and all the proceeds go to charity. A good way to explore another Dutch town and see how the natives enjoy themselves in the springtime.
071 5356356

The World Press Photo Exhibition
One of the major photographic exhibitions in the world: a selection of the best documentary images shot by the world's press in the previous year. To some, it may look like a collection of glamorous shots of other people's tragedies, but the images are visually stunning and will offer different perspectives on news events in 2002. Not very suitable for younger children.

Children's Farm Weekend
Over 150 farms open their (stable) doors to families for one weekend a year. Throughout the Netherlands you will find special events organised, from tractor rides to tasting homemade goats milk ice cream. There are lots of offers, (mainly encouraging parents to buy or get free organic produce), so it's worth picking up the special booklet from wholefood shops for coupons, maps, country walks and further details.
Tel 030 6382423


Horse and Countryside event
This horse and rider event is quite spectacular. There are lots of four-legged things to do, including different competitions and riders' events. Whether or not your 13 year old is a horse fanatic, this will be a great day out. At Ermelo-Federatie Centrum.
0577-408200 or

Otters in the Ecodrome
For a week in early May, the otters are the star attraction in this innovative, ecologically aware animal park. The otters can be seen swimming in the new Piranha Tunnel and there is lots of other aquatic life to see. Children can also splash their way down the stream in swan shaped paddleboats.
Tel 0384 215050

Medieval Festival in Berghe
Around 9th May every year a huge 'Middle Ages' street festival brings to life the old Bergkwartier in Deventer. More than 350 medieval characters show how people lived five hundred years ago. There will be street theatre performances, market stalls in the town and concerts held in Deventer's ancient churches. A unique experience, with some delightful streets and historic museums to see in this beautiful town.
Five minutes walk from Deventer train station.
Tel 0900 3535355

Art Fair Amsterdam
KunstRAI is the annual opportunity for contemporary art galleries to show some of their wares under one roof. De RAI is the huge exhibition centre to the south of the city and for just five days in mid May their main hall is filled with around three hundred temporary galleries. Expect the unusual, from fungus-like jewellery made out of tiny beads to digital, interactive art that emits strange noises when you walk past. The work is very varied but artists, art-lovers and the curious tourist find it an invaluable opportunity to see the very latest work by Dutch and other European artists.
Tel 020 5491212 or

Heineken Take a Walk Rhythm and Blues Festival
A world-renowned musical marathon which brings together international stars, as well as jump, swing, Cajun and every kind of blues you can imagine. This will be a very lively way to discover another Dutch town.
Where: Sittard Centre around 10th May
Tel 046 4521485
Free entry
Ten minute walk from Sittard train station

Breda Jazz festival
This four-day festival in the historic centre of Breda is one of the largest in Europe. From gospel choirs to street parades, big band and open-air quartets; this is the place to come and absorb the best of jazz worldwide. Tickets range from free to around €10. Around 9th May.
Tel 076 5151471

Steam Engine Festival
For three days, Almere turns the clock back and welcomes working steam engines, steam boats, steam trains and whatever you else that can be similarly powered for this nostalgic trip around the harbour. Where: Almere-Haven, on the eventemententerrein Gooimeer (event ground Gooimeer). Around 9th May each year
Tel 036 5485041
Take the train to Almere Centrum and pick up a train taxi from there.

The oldest open air pop festival in Europe. International bands gather to perform at this mega-camping event. Like many Dutch events, it is well organised but needs youthful stamina to really enjoy it and survive the discomfort of sharing a tent with exhausted revellers.
Tel 046 4756717 Around 18th May


World Children's Festival
A multicultural event, that takes place in fourteen towns throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. Children from all over the world are invited, many of whom sing in open air concerts or perform their dancing skills in city theatres. The standard is very high and tickets are cheap…so the whole family will enjoy the planned events.
Around 25th May.
Tel 030 2361244 or

Blues Festival Utrecht
As visitors may have gathered by now, the Dutch don't have a very strong indigenous music industry. (How many famous Dutch singers can you name?) However, they are very good at importing musical traditions and this Blues festival is typical of their ability to host some excellent musical events. This is one of the largest open-air festivals in Holland, and you can appreciate the beautiful town of Utrecht as a backdrop whilst appreciating the music. Many local cafes open their doors to smaller groups and both famous and les well-known traditions are celebrated to the full.
Most events take place around the Domtoren (the impressive tower dominating the city) and the Domplein beneath. Around 8th June
Tel 030 2732165

Pasar Malam Besar Den Haag
A fantastic festival of Asian Music and culture. Not only are there 200 stalls with spicy Asian food and brightly coloured things to buy from all over the world, but also five theatres with performances for all ages. The main theatre holds 600 and the smaller Tong Tong podium is where you will find acoustic sessions and dance performances. Music from the Cape Verde Islands and Jakarta was heard in 2002 as well as a popular music style from the Dutch East Indies, 'krontjong' (or keroncong in Indonesian). This dates from the sixteenth century and has Portuguese and Javanese roots. The main instruments used are guitar, ukulele, flute, violin, bass and cello. Lyrics are mainly in Dutch and Malay/Indonesian, sometimes both in one song. It is a typically Eurasian musical genre, it's lyricism adored by audiences worldwide. There are also chefs from places as afar as Malacca (Malaysia) and Mozambique in another tent, making this a very special event indeed.
Tel 0900 7272762

National Kite Flying Festival
This is a huge kite festival where a mixture of professionals and amateurs gather to show off their airborne creations. There are some amazing kites to see and lots of competitions so that experts can display their talent for flying some incredible 'vliegen'. A day of wonder for children and their enthusiastic parents. Takes place around 15th June each year.
The event is held on Scheveningen Beach which can be reached by foot from Den Haag Centraal Station or by bus or tram.
Tel 0900 3403505 Free entry

Open Canal Gardens Amsterdam
For just a few days a year, 25 canal houses open their gardens to the general public. Although many can be seen individually by buying a ticket to individual museums, this is a rare opportunity to mingle with the crowds and see the formal gardens behind the grand facades of canal side buildings. You won't find lush forests, but rather prim arrangements and maybe a string quartet playing amongst the trees. Tea and cakes are served in a few of the gardens and there is a free boat to take you from one part of the Prinsengracht to another. (The gardens can get quite crowded so the boat is a welcome respite).
The majority of gardens lie between the Brouwersgracht and the river Amstel.
Tel 020 4222379


Rotterdam Solero Summer Carnival
Even if Rotterdam hasn't got the quaint charm of Amsterdam, it has something much more exciting to offer in late July each year. This wonderfully exuberant Brazilian street parade has dancers in amazing carnival costumes writhing and jiving to live music. Bring cameras to capture the huge, scintillating butterfly outfits and your sequinned bikinis if you want to join in. If the sun is shining, this is a wonderful day out, but accommodation can get booked well in advance as this is a very popular event.
For the exact route, tel 010 4141772
Free entry

Peurbakkentocht Eel festival
A unique day out in early July…watching Dutch fishermen catch eels in the canals. Just a few minutes walk from the station you will find some strange goings on, things that you may never see anywhere else in Europe. Even if you are not partial to eels, the beautiful city of Leiden and it's many museums are worth visiting. Train station: Leiden (half an hour's journey from Amsterdam)
Free entry: Around 4th July
Tel 06 22978933

Parkpop festival
Europe's biggest pop festival with two huge stages. There are the usual pop festival stalls and a friendly children's area.
Den Haag (The Hague) Zuiderpark
Tel 0900 3403505 (€34c per minute)
Take the tram or bus from Den Haag HS
Around 30th June
Free entry

Festival Etcetera
A surprising international theatre festival held in different indoor and outdoor locations in the picturesque city of Amersfoort. Be prepared for something dramatic taking place in this historic city next summer, as the street performances can be outstanding.
Tickets range from free to around €10. Around 4th-7th July each year.
Tel 033 4625432
In Amersfoort city centre.
Ten minute walk from Amersfoort Station

Deventer op Stelten (Deventer on stilts)
For three days in early July, different acts from all over the world meet and precariously perform their tall acts in the centre of this very appealing ancient town.
The costumes are spectacular and you might catch some amazing open-air performances, which may be incredibly funny or totally spellbinding.
Around July 5th to 7th
Trains to Deventer from Amsterdam take about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
0900 3535355
Free entry

Kwakoe Zomerfestival (Kwakoe Summer Festival)
This is one of Amsterdam's hidden secrets. The most green, tree-filled housing estate in Western Europe hosts its very own music festival in a large field for six weekends every summer. Musical acts range from local Arabic singing to bands with well-known artists. There are also sporting activities which keep teenagers occupied, and lots of ethnic food stalls and barbecue grills to keep visitors happy.
Amsterdam Zuidoost-Bijlmerpark
020 4160894
Free entry
Take the metro to Biljmer from Centraal Station and the festival is about five minutes walk away. (You will hear the music from a long way off).

TNT Open Golf Championship
From around 25th to 28th July, golfers from all over the world compete to win the 1.8 million euro prize. This is one of the top ten European tournaments, so is an important stop on the PGA tour
Take the train to Hilversum and then a train taxi to the Hilversumsche Golf Club
020 6248958

Sneekweek (boat festival)
It is difficult to come to Holland and not spend some of the summer messing about on boats. There is lots to see and enjoy during this famous sailing festival. Some traditional boats even make it down the canals and there are stupendous fireworks to open the water sports competition.
Martiniplein Sneek and Sneekermeer
Take the Sneek bus or train taxi from Station Sneek (2 ½ hours train journey from Amsterdam) around 2nd to 9th August (pronounce Sneek as 'snake').
Free entry
Tel 0515 414 096

Latin Dance Beats Festival
In early July, the temperature hots up in Amsterdam as everyone comes to this energetic three day long festival of Latin Dance. There is a wide variety of dance forms on offer, from folk music, tango demonstrations to modern and crossover music.
Tel 020 6264521 or

Deventer Book Fair
The biggest book fair in Europe usually takes place on the second weekend in August. This architecturally impressive city hosts over 850 stalls, mainly along the Ijsselkade and the City Centre. There are hundreds and second hand titles for sale and the fact that book dealers come from all over the Netherlands make this an annual event not to miss.
0900 355355
Free entry


Amsterdam (Gay) Pride
On the first weekend in August something rather fantastic occurs in this liberal, eclectic city: the entire place turns into a massive street party, including a spectacular convoy of decorated people and boats sailing down Prinsengracht. Everyone, transsexual or bisexual, straight or gay, young or old, has a whale of a time, and the clubs seem to cater for every taste with non-stop dancing for a very long, hot summer weekend. (If you wondered where the word 'float' came from, (those carnival lorries slowly moving along the street with revellers aboard), think of the boats on the canals in Amsterdam which were the first 'floats').
For further details:
Tel 020 6208807
Free views for the procession of boats, but many clubs charge entry fees for dance events in the evening.

Uitmarkt Amsterdam
This massive (and massively hyped) outdoor event is the annual launch of the Dutch cultural season. It's the opportunity for hundreds of theatre, cabaret, dance, pop, classical, opera, mime, children's theatre and street theatre acts to give a preview of what they will have to offer in the coming year. There are hundreds of stalls on Museumplein with information on what's happening in museums, theatres, dance companies and music venues for the next twelve months. Hundreds of thousands attend and give the city an especially playful feel. And the best thing about it all is, just about everything is free…
Tel 0900 400 4040

Utrecht Early Music Festival
The Dutch Early Music Festival is a world-renowned week-long event. Musicians and audiences gather to play together in this beautiful old town or listen to some rare performances. The Early Music Organisation was founded in 1982 to support early musical activity and organise concerts ranging from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 19th Century. The latest research into historical performance practice becomes the basis for these exceptional performances, but despite the high level of scholarship involved in their production, the music still can be enjoyed by anyone.
Highlights include: Medieval Music from Venice and other Towns across the Adriatic, Recently Discovered Baroque Music from China and Bolivia and John Eliot Gardiner conducting the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists in Handel's L'Allegro ed il Penseroso. Rare treats are on offer, as well as exquisitely scored films and an annual early music market for fans and performers. In Utrecht, (where the festival is held), it will almost feel as if you are in a living museum, surrounded by ancient buildings and people who are passionate about interpreting some of the most exquisite sounds on earth. The Early Music Organisation also arranges concerts throughout the year in historic buildings throughout the Netherlands. This is an ideal opportunity to visit an old castle or an 18thC palace and listen to the wonderful music that was written and played at the time it was built.
3500 AS Utrecht, The Netherlands
Phone: 030 230 3838
Fax: 030 230 3839

Marlboro Masters of Formula 3
This is the high point of the circuit calendar. The quiet sandy beaches of Zandvoort will be transformed as crowds flock to watch the 'speed devils' take the course in record time. There are also sideshows, exhibitions, public competitions and amazing demonstrations (mostly involving sports cars).
Tel 023 5740750

Lowlands Festival
'A Camping Flight to Lowlands Paradise'
This three-day event is one of the highlights of the year for anyone who wants to listen to non-stop music, theatre, stand-up comedy and new writing. Like Glastonbury festival in the UK it has become something of an institution, but you may want to chill out in a comfortable bed in Amsterdam after three nights on hard earth in a tent…
Take the train to Lelystad Centrum and catch the 't Harde mini bus (called a Pendle bus around here). Ask for Biddinghuizen-Evenemententerrein Six Flags.
Tel 0900-3001250 or

International Firework Festival
From Scheveningen Pier lots of firework competitors from different countries will be showing their spectacular evening displays. An expert jury will judge which one is the best. A stunning evening out by the sea.
Tel 0900 340-3505
Around 20th-23rd August
Free entry

Balloon Festival in Twente
Over 35 hot air balloons, from the usual pear shaped to some special shapes, such as a huge chicken will be floating above the lake and the recreation ground near Twente. There will be parachute jumps, flying demonstrations and ancient aeroplanes to look at with the family. An exhilarating day out, even for people who like to watch rather than fly.
Tel 074 276-1100

Prinsengracht Concert Festival
This is a popular inner city Festival for music lovers who like to listen to classical music along the canals, or from bridges and boats. Famous soloists will be performing under the beautiful trees of the Western Church Tower (Westerkerk) in this unique outdoor location. A civilised way to enjoy Amsterdam in summer.
Prinsengracht: Opposite the Hotel Pulitzer
Tel 020 523-5235
Free entry

Harley Davidson Day, Breda
A relaxing day out for fans of this famous brand of bike.
Above the noise of the bikes there will be 12 bands performing on six stages. In the market square you can also buy Harley-Davidson memorabilia and accessories. There will be lots to do and some fantastic bikes to watch in this pretty town.
Around 18th August each year
Tel 076 521-4285
Free entry


The Netherlands Film Festival
The best entries win awards, and there are some odd, intriguing short films to see as well as documentaries.
Or tel 030 2303800, fax: 030 2303801
For a programme write to:
Postbus 1581
3500 BN Utrecht

Major Art Exhibition: Per Saldo
One of the largest Dutch banks celebrates its 25th anniversary this year by hosting a special exhibition of works from their private collection. Tel 073 6877800 Open Tuesday to Friday 10.00-17.00 and Weekends 12.00-17.00 Closed Mondays
Noord Brabants Museum in Den Bosch

Le Corbusier Meets Berlage
An overview of the contrast between the groundbreaking Frenchman le Corbusier and the Dutch architect Berlage, in the building Berlage designed around 1903. Although Berlage is less well known, he had considerable influence on the style known as the Amsterdam School and many of his impressive designs still stand today, (De Burcht, Trade Union Museum near Artis, for example). This exhibition is worth catching, if only to see inside the monumental former Beurs (stock exchange) next to Dam Square.
Daily except Mondays 11.00-17.00
020 6240141 or

Flower Parade from Aalsmeer to Amsterdam
Starting in the town renowned all over the world for it's flower auctions, a wonderful procession of floats will wend their way to via the suburbs of Amstelveen. Around forty beautifully decorated wagons will slowly travel through each town and end up in the capital city. A wonderful sight and maybe an inspiration for budding gardeners.
Ring for details of the route or check online: tel 0297 325100

Rotterdam World Harbour Day
Look behind the scenes at the biggest harbour in the world. An entertaining day out along the industrial banks of the Maas. Riverboat excursions are the highlight of this event, but there is also a market selling things from around the world and different bands playing. The event takes place near to the fascinating Rotterdam World Museum, and it can be exhilarating taking a tour around the modern bridges and architectural masterpieces in the vicinity.
Take the metro from Rotterdam Centraal Station
Tel 010 4125353 or
Tel 010 2707172

Seven Bridges Jazz Festival
The Dutch are fond of jazz, and this is one of the high points of their annual calendar. Both international and Dutch jazz artists will be performing in and around the Reguliersgracht Canal. A fantastic opportunity to combine a visit to Amsterdam with a musical event to enhance one's enjoyment of the city in early autumn.
Tel 020 625 1560
Free entry

Haags Uit Festival (Out and About in Den Haag)
This is The Hague's equivalent to Amsterdam's Uitmarkt. However, the emphasis here is on street theatre and there are over a hundred free performances all over the city. Don't miss this lively opening event of the city's cultural season.
Free entry

Jordaan Festival
An inner city festival that celebrates the unique character of this former working class district. This year there will be drum bands, a children's festival, opera and cabaret. There is even a boules competition, a flea market and an auction…but you will have to visit the Jordaan to find out exactly what is on offer.
Tel 020 626 5587

The amazing thing about this festival is that it is free. A wide variety of bands perform, from familiar names on the club circuit to some who've had big Dutch hits.
Telephone 0344 620477
Free entry
Appelpop Tiel -Waalkade
Take the train to station Tiel (1 hour and 12 minutes from Amsterdam) and the music ground is 15 minutes walk away.

International Basketball Tournament (IBT)
Some of the top teams from Holland and abroad compete in this international tournament.
Take the train to station Groningen and the Martiniplaza is 15 minutes walk away.
Tel 050 360-3895

50 + fair and festival
A huge indoor fair for anyone aged over 50, around the themes of lifestyle, interior design, free time, travel, hobbies, mobility aids, health, sport and fitness. There are more than 50 stalls and lots of things to see and do. Take the train to station Utrecht Centraal and the exhibition halls (Utrecht -Koninklijke Nederlandse Jaarbeurs) are around 10 minutes walk away. You can also take the Green Cab: 0900 4733622

Dam to Dam Run
This 10-mile route is one of the most popular running events in the Netherlands. Come and cheer the participants on while they run from Amsterdam to Zaandam. Sunday 22nd September
Tel 072 56162221
Free entry

Utrecht Horse Event (Utrechtse Paardendagen)
Not only will you see some handsome beasts at this horse event but also exhilarating events such as the covered wagons racing in the indoor marathon.
Tel 035 601-0167
Take the train to Utrecht Centraal Station and then order a Green Cab taxi: 0900 4733622


Amsterdam Ideal Home Exhibition (De Woonbeurs)
This is the biggest home interiors exhibition in Holland. Come and feel inspired, get some good advice from the experts and find some beautiful things for yourself. There is everything for sale under one roof, from oak dining tables to bars of olive soap wrapped in raffia. This might be a good place to buy some early Christmas presents…Make an evening out afterwards and have a meal at one of the authentic Japanese restaurants nearby in Scheldestraat.
Take the train to Amsterdam RAI and the exhibition halls are five-minute walks away. Take tram 4 from
Amsterdam Centraal or the Metro to RAI

American Beauty: Van Gogh Museum
If you are curious about what was collected by American galleries during the last few centuries, or just want a glimpse of some gorgeous artworks, this exhibition is the one to visit in Amsterdam this autumn.
American Beauty will show paintings and sculptures from 1770 -1920 from the Detroit Institute of Arts.
info: 020-570 52 52
tel: 020-570 52 00

Model Railways Exhibition
Den Bosch (s'Hertogenbosch) -Brabanthallen
Tel 073 629-3293
Tickets cost €9 and for children aged from four to 12 years €4.50

Crossing Border Festival
This exciting festival breaks down the borders between literature, music and film. Not only can everyone see their favourite writers in the flesh, there are also singers, songwriters and world music events to see in 17 different venues around the city centre. Last year Douglas Copeland spoke movingly about his memories of the pop singer Kurt Cobain and the African/Indian band Trilok Gurtu amazed audiences with their crossover mix. The packed audiences enjoy every minute and its wise to book early to avoid missing this stimulating and lively event. More than 150 artists get involved and participants can buy a single ticket that allows them into any event.
Tel 020 627-4985
Take the tram from Amsterdam Centraal train station to Leideseplein

Rock around the Jukebox
An international event for dealers and collectors to bring out their jukeboxes, music and cars from the 1950's and 60's. There will be over 250 stands and lots of things to do. Don't forget your winkelpickers.
073 5233300
Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th October
Take the train to Rosmalen Station and catch a train taxi from there to Rosmalen-Autotron.

Delta Lloyd Amsterdam marathon
The Amsterdam marathon route goes right through the old city centre, passing by the right museum and the Vondelpark. Athletes from over 40 countries participate and it is quite a spectacle to see so many runners surviving the course.
Sunday 20th October 2002
The marathon starts and ends at the Olympic Stadium in the south of the city. Take the tram to Amsterdam Zuid and then a bus Metro or the tram to the Stadium.
Telephone 072532-4849
Free entry for onlookers.


De Nacht (Museum Night)
An annual event, now widely copied elsewhere in Europe. This is the one evening during the year when 36 museums in Amsterdam open their doors for a late night event. Last year visitors could watch the 1920's version of The Phantom of the Opera shown at midnight in the 12thC Oude Kerk, with the lights turned off. Organ music accompanied this silent movie and the warmly dressed made it until the early hours without feeling too scared by the ghostly presence as they huddled in the pews.
You might discover a rare opportunity to hear klezmermusic in the Jewish Historical Museum, dance the tango at the Amsterdam Historical Museum and sing along with some famous Dutch cabaret stars. Have you ever been round a zoo when the animals are asleep? This is your one chance to experience what happens when the gates are usually shut at the end of the day…
Around 36 museums are to stay open from 7pm to 2am, offering the public a chance to view their collections and join in a range of surprising late night events.
Tickets from major museums in the city, AUB ticket shop, Leidesplein and De Uitlijn, tel 0900 0191 (88cents per minute) (for tickets for most ticket-only events in Amsterdam) (for museum night)

St Martin's Day
November the 11th is St Martin's Day and many children in the Netherlands decorate handmade paper lanterns and go knocking on people's doors singing a traditional song. This isn't a late Halloween trick or treat, but you should offer these young people a handful of sweets when they ring your doorbell
'Sint Maarten' was the patron saint of soldiers and the first Bishop of Utrecht built a Church and dedicated it to him, so the Dutch are particularly fond of this important figure. In fact, the Domtoren is the biggest tower in Holland, constructed on top of the largest medieval church. Legend has it that generous St Martin tore his cloak in half for a beggar who was cold in the middle of winter so it seems a pity that children don't wear these symbolic warm garments while singing at your front door.


International Doll and Teddy Bear Fair
Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd November 2002
This is one of the few international fairs were you can look at and buy dolls and teddy bears from different ages. Many will be for sale and there will be lots of advice on how to make your own toys as well.
Rotterdam Ahoy' Exhibition Halls
Tel 0578 620502


Christmas Market in Maastricht
Saturday 7th December to 23rd December 2002
A cosy, welcoming Christmas market in the centre of this beautiful town in the south of Holland. Every day heavily laden stalls will be selling their Christmas gifts and homemade delicacies. There will even be a Christmas stable with real live animals. But will there be a real-life baby in the crib? Come and have some hot mulled wine on a frosty day and find some beautiful Christmas decorations for your tree.
Maastricht -Vrijthof, Dominikanerplein and Church
Tel 043 325-2121
Free entry
Take the train to Maastricht Station and the city centre is ten minutes walk away. (Maastricht is 1 hour 40 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal).

Snow Swing
Vlaardingen-Liesveld Viaduct
A temporary ski run with environmentally friendly snow will be built just for three days for this winter event. Expert teams will give ski-ing demonstrations and there will be off-piste skiing for members of the public. Enjoy the lively après ski in the evenings in the specially constructed winter village.
Tel 010 435-4046
Free entry

December 5th St Nicholas Eve (Sinterklaas)
The Dutch don't celebrate Christmas quite so extensively as elsewhere in the West. They tend not to give presents or go to town quite as much as the British or Americans. Instead, they meet together with their families on the 10th December for some homegrown entertainment. This is the night when St Nicholas is meant to arrive on a white horse with his trusty servant, Black Peter. Children put out tasty things in wooden clogs in the fireplace at the foot of the chimney, and supposedly find presents the following morning.
Earlier on in the day, 'Zwarte Piet', (Sinterklaas's assistant) then hands out small spiced biscuits and sweets to everyone. Alphabet chocolates, chosen to represent the first letter of someone's name are bought for friends and family. (They are on sale everywhere). Everyone writes a satirical poem about one person they know and reads their composition out to the attentive gathering. The Dutch seem to take this very seriously, but it might be fun for visitors to participate with their own compositions...
If you are out shopping, it can be slightly disconcerting to see tall, white bearded men in bishop's robes (Sinterklaas) walking into supermarkets and bookshops handing out small edible presents. (Don't expect to get efficient service this afternoon; the festive activities are considerably more important for the shop assistants than serving customers). Everything will close early and the city feels very festive and cheerful. Children will enjoy seeing St Nicholas on his live horse walking in a procession along the river Amstel, but apparently it has been psychologically distressing for Dutch offspring to receive presents on both December 10th and Christmas Day. It is all a bit too overwhelming!

December 25th: Quiet streets and empty cafes
It is worth visiting Amsterdam at this time of year if you want to escape the overwhelming buying frenzy elsewhere in the world. Instead of the cult of consumerism you will find Amsterdam streets and shops nicely empty and museums uncrowded. Warm yourself up with some jenever (Dutch gin) in the brown cafe Hoppe on Spui. This building consists of two adjoining properties. The part on the right has been a bar since 1670, the interior reflecting its rich history. There is a civilised atmosphere, perhaps induced by the fact that no music is played but there is virtually standing room only. During the festive season it will be heavily decorated with real branches of Scots pine and feel like a very grown up version of Santa's Grotto. This traditional building even has sand on the floor, so you won't have to worry about shaking the snow off your boots.
Hoppe Café
Spui 18 to 20
Trams 1,3,5 to Spui.
Tel 020 420 4420

Christmas Day Concert
In Amsterdam there isn't that total shutdown that adds to the feeling of being trapped indoors with unwelcome relatives. There will be Christmas Day concerts in the Concertgebouw, for example, and many cafes stay open, making it feel less dead than elsewhere in Europe. The Dutch are so laid back, they don't even take Christmas that seriously and the city doesn't turn into a total cultural desert, although most museums will be closed on 25th and 26th December and on New Year's Day. Concerts will also be held on Boxing Day and throughout the festive season.

Christmas Market Haarlem
A traditional Christmas market will be held in the stunning Grote Markt in the centre of this beautiful city. Many stalls will be beautifully decorated and Christmas cheer will be added with the sound of carillon and ringing bells. The one-day market will have lots of beautiful Christmas things to buy as special gifts or take home at this festive time of year.
Tel 023 511-3845
Free entry


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