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Amsterdam's 10 Unmissable Festivals and Events this August
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Amsterdam's 10 Unmissable Festivals and Events this August

Picture of Lauren England
Updated: 9 February 2017
Marking the start of the Dutch Cultural season, August is one of the best months for cultural events in Amsterdam. With a number of major cultural festivals, outdoor cinemas, music festivals and sporting events taking place throughout the month, visitors and locals alike will be spoilt for choice. Here are ten events not to miss this month in Amsterdam, from food fairs to international art exhibitions.

Sport | World Rowing Championships 2014

24 – 31 August

In addition to its cultural prowess Amsterdam also has an impressive sporting record. The World Rowing Championships 2014 celebrates sport and culture and will see over one thousand top athletes and their fans descend on the Bosbaan, a man-made rowing course built in the 1930s, for one of the premier rowing events of the year. Featuring numerous top-class events fans can enjoy the stiff competition presented at the elite competition, as well as para-rowing. The Championships are also non-rower friendly with live music performances taking place and food stalls, beer gardens and picnic areas available throughout. There are also sports-related activities taking place throughout the championships for those looking to get in the sporting spirit.

World Rowing Championships Amsterdam, Bosbaan 14, Amstelveen, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 6 211 916 61

Music | Opera in the Garden

20 – 24 August

Museum van Loon, one of the finest canal houses in Amsterdam, plays host every year to spectacular outdoor opera. With strong references to the origins of Opera in the courts of Italy, Museum Van Loon is an idyllic setting for Opera in the Garden with performances this year by Erik Slik, Hrafnhildur Árnadóttir and Sven Weyens. In celebration of the tenth year of Opera in the Garden audiences will be treated to Vom Fischer und seiner Frau, an opera based on a brothers Grimm fairytale by Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck and composed in 1930. The opera, which tells a dramatic story of ambition and greed, will be performed as a new composition by director Ivo Meinen to mark the ten years of cooperation between Museum Van Loon and Stichting Opera op Zak. After the concerts the audience also get the chance to explore the gardens and house and catch a glimpse into the life of the regent family Van Loon.

Museum Van Loon, Keizersgracht 672, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20 624 5255

Art | Rijksmuseum – Art is Therapy

Until 7 September

Art is Therapy sees renowned British writers and philosophers Alain De Botton andJohn Armstrong discuss 150 artworks on display throughout the Rijksmuseum, including items within the Asian Pavilion, Middle Ages and 20th Century galleries. The unique exhibition puts the ideas presented in their latest book Art as Therapy into practice, focusing on the therapeutic effect of art and how it can be used to answer some of life’s big questions. Presenting their ideas on text boards designed by Irma Boom next to the original museum descriptions, the aim is to shed new light on the collection. Their fundamental belief is that our focus should be more on what a work of art can do for visitors in terms of dealing with universal personal issues such as love and relationships, work, status, memory and mortality rather than where an art object comes from and who made it.

Art is Therapy, Rijksmeusem, Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20 674 7000

Art, Film and Music | EYE Filmmuseum – David Cronenberg, the Exhibition

Until 14 September

A must for film buffs, this major exhibition on David Cronenberg explores the life and work of the cult director known for his idiosyncratic films which focused on the relationship between body, mind, technology and mass media. Through an extensive collection of props, set photos, special effects items, costumes and regular film screenings, visitors are invited into the weird and wonderful world of the ‘master of horror’, a title Cronenberg received following the movies Shivers (1975) and Rabid (1977). The exhibition, curated by Piers Handling and Noah Cowan and designed by Claus Wiersma, focuses on the main themes in Cronenberg’s work; the transformation of the protagonists both physically and psychologically. In collaboration with TIFF the exhibition has been brought to EYE for its European debut and includes a digital re-release of Cronenberg’s iconic film Videodrome (1983).

EYE Filmmuseum, IJpromenade 1, 1031 KT Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20 589 1400

Culture | Anne Frank House – The Helpers of the Secret Annexe

Until April 2015

The temporary exhibition at Anne Frank House, The Helpers of the Secret Annexe is an emotive portrayal of those who helped the eight Frank family members go into hiding during the war in 1942. The exhibition focuses on the crucial roles played by Johannes Kleiman, Miep Gies, Victor Kugler, Bep Voskuijl and Johan Voskuij, whose help was invaluable to the Frank family. Through a video and various objects on show, visitors see how the helpers cared for the safety and wellbeing of those in hiding for over two years in the Secret Annexe at the back of Otto Frank’s office on Prinsengracht. The exhibition which will run until April 2015 shows just how dependent the Frank family were to those who kept the business and family with going by buying clothes, food, medicine, books and magazines despite the great personal risk to every one of the helpers. The helpers of the Secret Annexe also shows the gratitude of Otto Frank, the only survivor of the eight, towards the helpers who all lived to see his return in 1945.

The Helpers of the Secret Annexe, Anne Frank House, Prinsengracht 263-267, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20 556 7100

Film | Pluk De Nacht – Open Air Film Festival

6 – 16 August

Taking place in the middle of August each year Pluk de Nacht open-air film festival is one of the most popular cultural events on the Amsterdam summer calendar. Now in its 11th year the free festival takes place on Stenen Hoofd pier in a former harbour area, with events also taking place in The Hague and Arnhem. Films are designed to be screened in the open air but there are contingency plans for all forms of weather; an indoor venue in case of rain and blankets on hand for colder evenings. Venues also have restaurants and bars for festival attendees which are wonderful places to meet others for pre and post screening discussions. Films on show include never widely released indie films, experimental shorts, animation and documentary titles and pieces of archival footage selected at international film festivals, thus ensuring a unique line-up every year.

Pluk de Nacht, Het Stenen Hoofd, Westerdoksdijk 705-C, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Theatre | De Parade Theater Festival

8 – 24 August

Now in its 24th year this annual travelling theatre festival hits all the big cities in the Netherlands including Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht. With over 90 performances over 17 days of summer the final leg of the festival takes place in Amsterdam concluding with a grand festival Gala on 24 August.. Held in a Martin Luther Kingpark De Parade takes over with colourful theatre tents hosting performances by small theatre, dance, music and circus groups, comedians and magicians designed to attract a young audience. Highlights of this year’s festival include Bokko by Karel van Laere & Vanja Rukavina, De Levende Jukebox and Protocol and Maria Geniaal by Mime opleiding Amsterdam. In conjunction with the festival free music performances are held at Café Correct and Hotel Vilé along with a number of food and cocktail options offered on roof terrace bars across the city.

De Parade Amsterdam, Martin Luther Kingpark, Amsteldijk, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 33 465 4555

Music and Dance | Grachtenfestival Amsterdam

15 – 24 August

Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival) is a major feature of the Amsterdam summer culture calendar. Now in its 17th year the ten-day classical and jazz music festival can be enjoyed from the gardens of locals, concert halls, historic buildings, museums and outdoor venues around the Prinsengracht all surrounded by the city’s iconic waterways. With a unique line up of over 80 concerts the festival boasts an annual attendance of over 50,000 music lovers. In addition to more traditional performances by seasoned musicians Grachtenfestival also provides a platform for young musicians to display their talent and develop their musical careers. Highlights of the 2014 festival include a reinterpretation of Cosí Fan Tutte at Stadsschouwburg (16-20 August). In addition to numerous musical performances this year choreographer Lonneke van Leth and artist Vincent de Kookerdance will also present their dance spectacle The Odyssey at Westergasfabriek (13-24 August).

Grachtenfestival, Prinsengracht 583 IV, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20 421 4542

Culture | Uitmarkt

29 – 31 August

One of the largest cultural events to take place in Amsterdam, Uitmarkt is unique in its cultural offering, attracting more than 450,000 visitors each year. The free festival marks the opening of the Dutch Cultural season during the last weekend in August with events for all ages. There is also a Uitmarkt Junior this year with its own programme especially for younger audiences and hosted by De Krakeling Youth Theatre. Hosting over 30 events of all forms including theatre and dance performances, classical music and hip-hop concerts, exhibitions, countless workshops and a book market the festival offers something for everyone. In total Utimarkt features over 450 performances by around 2,000 artists and has remained a free festival thanks to the artists and organisations working and performing on a voluntary basis.

Uitmarkt, Museumplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands and Leidseplein, Amsterdam, Netherlands, +31 20 626 2656

Music and Sport | Musical Bike Tour

31 August

In the summertime music on the streets of Amsterdam is a common occurrence. The Musical Bike Tour by Toertje Muziek have therefore found a way to stand out, inviting you to get on your bike and experience a two-wheeled musical tour like no other. Based at three locations in Landsmeer and Amsterdam Noord, the cycle tour takes in three 30 minute concerts performed by an eclectic array of musicians and ensembles. There is time to explore the venue and quench your thirst after each performance before hopping back on your bike. With a varied musical line up including the Nordanians and new compositions on oboe and accordion by classical Romanian musicians Sabor a Tango duo Jendéla and Campolago as well as performances on harp from Mirjam Rietberg. They play a special program with work of Bach, Astor Piazzolla and klezmermusic. The Musical Bike Tour promises a truly unique experience. And it’s a great work-out too!

Event takes place across Amsterdam +31 62 256 3114

By Lauren England