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Amsterdam's 10 Best Art and Culture Events in Summer 2014
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Amsterdam's 10 Best Art and Culture Events in Summer 2014

Picture of Vittoria Caron
Updated: 9 February 2017
Well known to tourists all over the world for its Nordic beauty, its canals and its bicycles, the capital of the Netherlands is also rich in cultural events throughout the year, and especially in summer, when the city illuminates with colour and smells of flowers. For those who find themselves in Amsterdam this summer, here is a selection of the top ten events in the city, from art fairs to film festivals.
Holland Festival
© Kerstin Behrend | Image courtesy of the Holland Festival

Holland Festival

1 – 29 June

The Netherlands’ largest international artistic festival since 1947, the Holland Festival covers a wide scope of cultural events from the fields of theatre, opera, music and dance. Although its approach is anti-elitist, the festival nevertheless attempts to showcase the highest quality contemporary work. This approach results in an interesting choice of fresh and little known events combined with already recognised artistic achievements. For its 67th edition, which will be the tenth and last edition under the artistic leadership of Pierre Audi, Holland Festival will host high profile artists such as Alain Platel, William Forsythe, Peter Brook, Elfriede Jelinek, Isabella Rossellini, De Warme Winkel, Heiner Goebbels, Ben Frost, Calliope Tsoupaki, Abel Gance, Matthew Barney, William Kentridge, Roysten Abel, Abida Parveen and Philip Glass.

Various venues throughout the city. For more information, please visit the festival website.


4 – 9 June

KunstRAI (previously known as Art Amsterdam) is a modern art fair which runs each year for five days in May in the RAI exhibition and conference centre. The fair concentrates on the latest developments in Dutch art by more than 120 galleries from the Netherlands, though in recent years it has seen an increasing number of foreign galleries, mainly from Western Europe and the United States. Paintings, graphics, sculptures, jewellery, design objects and photographs can all be found at the fair, together with newer disciplines such as performance and video art by emerging artists.

KunstRAI, Europaplein,1078 GZ, Amsterdam, NL, +31 20 626 40 20

Courtesy of Kunstrai

Grachtenfestival – Canal Music Festival

15 – 24 August

Each summer in the middle of August a unique festival of classical and jazz music takes place in Amsterdam’s old city centre. The Grachtenfestival is not only an opportunity for music lovers to listen to talented musicians but also a chance to observe the beauty of the city. This is due to the festival’s use of different public places, museums, theaters, canal pontoon boats, and even private houses and gardens as sites for its various performances. The theme of the 17th Grachtenfestival is ‘Upside down’which will be reflected in both the concerts themselves and in the venues.

Various venues throughout the city. For more information, please visit the festival website.

LaBoheme © Ronald Knapp | Image courtesy of Grachtenfestival

Pluk De Nacht – Open Air Film Festival

6 – 16 August

Pluk De Nacht means in English ‘Seize the Night’ and it is the largest open air film festival in The Netherlands. It has been established in 2003, and since then it takes place every summer in different locations. Produced by a group of volunteer young film professionals, artists and students that all share a passion for cinema, it shows a selection of unreleased national and international independent cinema. From animation to road movie, from tragic small-town documentary to absurd romantic comedy, year after year the programming is stirring and surprising. A lively and young event and an exceptional chance to see interesting indie films which never get into a wider cinema release, and to combine the screening with art, food, drinks, debates and parties.

Various venues throughout the city. For more information, please visit the festival website.

The Uitmarkt

29 – 30 August

The Uitmarkt is the largest cultural festival in the Netherlands and takes places annually during the last weekend of August. Also referred to as ‘the mother of all cultural activities in Amsterdam’, there are more than 2000 artists performing: solo singers, famous and less famous groups, or sing along musicals. However the Uitmarkt is not only music, but also exhibitions, performances, art studio previews and countless workshops. Finally, its famous book market is the only one in Holland, hosting hundreds of publishers with their latest publiations as well as antiquarian volumes.

Various venues throughout the city. For more information, please visit the festival website.

The Uitmarkt
© Cris Toala Olivares, Michael Koomen | Image courtesy of The Uitmarkt

ITs Festival

20 – 27 June

Amsterdam’s International Theatre School Festival (ITs) brings the best of new theatrical talent to stages across Amsterdam. Each year at the end of June graduating actors, dancers, mime artists, film directors and other performing artists, national and international, will make their first appearance at several professional theatres in Amsterdam’s city centre. The ITs is the biggest European student festival with over 200 theatre talents in more than 50 unique productions. Alongside the productions, the festival programme is filled with inspiring debates, lectures and workshops.

Various venues throughout the city. For more information, please visit the festival website.

Its Festival
© Jochem Jurgens | Image courtesy of ITs Festival

Inside Design Amsterdam

27 – 29 June

Organised every year since 2003 by the Dutch interior decoration magazine Elle Women, Inside Design Amsterdam is a four day festival with exhibitions and lectures about design, fashion shows and product presentations, as well as free sessions of interior decoration advising and parties. Amsterdam shops, restaurants, hotels, galleries and museums participate in the event and present their work in design stores, metro stations, bookshops and cafes, and hundreds of young talents from the design field show their art. Inside Design Amsterdam is a good occasion to observe the newest design trends while strolling through the charming Amsterdam streets.

Various venues throughout the city. For more information, please visit the festival website.

Appelsap Fresh Music Festival

9 August

Boasting a youthful and celebratory atmosphere, the midsummer Appelsap (Apple Juice) Fresh Music Festival showcases the best in new music. Held outdoors in Oosterpark, festival comers can relax with a refreshing drink and enjoy a day of hip-hop, R&B, electro, rap and soul music by top Dutch and international artists. Among the list of international names who will take part in the event are Travi$ Scott, Hudson Mohawke, Typhoon, SOPHIE, and DJ EZ. Great music and a lively ambience make this event a must for summer 2014.

Appelsap Fresh Music Festival, Oosterpark, Amsterdam, NL

Appelsap Fresh Music Festival
©Maeve Stam | Image courtesy of Appelsap Fresh Music Festival

Harbour Festival IJmuiden

30 August

The Harbour Festival IJmuiden provides music, culture and entertainment for the whole family. This traditionally nautical-themed harbour event invites several local and national bands to take the stage in a range of pop, classical and world music concerts. Other events include youth and street theatre performances, fine arts displays, poetry readings and film. Alongside the music there are nautical activities in store including demonstrations by divers, the fire department, rescue teams and navigation displays. Moreover, the setting is stunning: the festival takes place directly in the middle of the harbour in Ijmuiden and all the activities are set at the Trawlerkade, right up to the lighthouse and fishing harbour.

Harbour Festival Ijmuiden, Ijmuiden Harbour, Amsterdam, NL

De Wereld Draait Buiten

6 July

Der Wereld Draait Buiten, which translates as ‘The World Keeps Turning’; is an international cultural festival held each July. Storytellers, artists, poets and musicians known from ‘De Wereld Draait Door’ will take the over the stage at the Westergasfabriek, and the performers include the comedian Pieter Derks and the author/poet Nico Dijkshoorn. The De Wereld Draait Buiten, now in its second edition, is probably the most extravagant event in Amsterdam summer, and collects plays and acts from established artists as well as young talents. Much of the spoken programming is in Dutch, but the majority of the bands still sing in English.

De Wereld Draait Buiten, Westergasfabriek, Amsterdam, NL

By Vittoria Caron