What's on in Amsterdam in December

Photo of Tom Coggins
24 November 2017

Amsterdam’s winter cultural calendar includes several important, annual events in December such as the city’s famous, outdoor lights festival and its Meesterlijk design fair. These events coincide with several festive celebrations that involve gift-giving, tasty winter treats and other seasonal activities like ice-skating.


Sinterklaas candy | © pixabay / RAI Conference Center | © Adam Kliczek / WikiCommons


📅 Friday December 1st to Sunday December 3rd

Meesterlijk ranks among the largest annual design festivals in the Netherlands and will take place inside Amsterdam’s cutting-edge cultural venue Westergasfabriek this December. Dozens of leading designers participate at Meesterlijk every year and there’s always hundreds of beautiful fashion, craft and interior products available at this three day event.


📅 Tuesday, December 5th

Sinterklaasavond falls on December 5th and acts as the main gift-giving holiday in the Netherlands. Young Dutch children believe that a tall, bearded bishop called Sinterklaas delivers presents on this date and then rides away on his white horse. Families get together for special meals during the holiday and organise small parties that involve games, poetry and handicrafts.

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International Queer and Migrant Film Festival

📅 Wednesday, December 6th to Wednesday, December 13th

In 2017 Amsterdam’s International Queer and Migrant Film Festival will take place between December 6th to 13th at de Balie on Leidseplein (and other venues around the city). The festival screens movies related to queer or migrant issues and organises additional events such as Q&As, live performances and parties.

Masters of LXRY

📅 Thursday, December 7th to Monday, December 11th

International lifestyle magazine LXRY organises a high-end products fair in Amsterdam’s RAI Convention Centre every December. The exclusive event showcases luxury items from around the world and many upscale brands such as Gassan Diamond or Rolls Royce exhibit their latest collections at the fair.


An installation at Amsterdam Light Festival 2013 | © UrbanUrban_ru / Flickr

Amsterdam Light Festival

📅 Thursday, November 30th to Sunday, January 21st

From November 30th to January 21st Amsterdam hosts a citywide light festival that revolves around illuminated public artworks. Luminous statues and images are installed around many of the city’s most iconic locales during the festival, including places like the canal belt and Oosterdok.

📍 Locations throughout Amsterdam


Ice* Village is attached to a charming outdoor ice-rink on Museumplein | © pixabay / Zuiderkerk at night | © Sergey Ashmarin / WikiCommons

Ice* Village

📅 Wednesday, December 20th to Saturday, December 30th

Over the festive season several temporary ice rinks are installed in Amsterdam including a particularly popular facility that runs alongside the Rijksmuseum called Ice*. A charming winter market complete with dozens of picture perfect, wooden stalls appears next to the ice-rink at the end of December and hosts festive events until the night before New Year’s Eve.

Winter Parade

📅 Thursday, December 21st to Saturday, December 31st

At this seasonal event actors, musicians and dancers perform on top of an 120-metre long table inside Amsterdam’s oldest protestant church, Zuiderkerk. This central, improvised stage also serves as an actual dinning table and guests are presented with an entire banquet over the course of the evening.


Tango partners | © pixabay / Fireworks above Amsterdam during New Year’s Eve | © Eelco Cramer / Flickr


📅 Tuesday, December 26th to Monday, January 1st

During the last week of December several venues around Amsterdam host tango sessions, workshops and competitions. Hundreds of dancers participate at these events and the festival embraces all forms of tango including older, modern and international styles.

📍 Venues throughout Amsterdam

New Year’s Eve

📅 Sunday, December 31st

Clubs, bars and other venues throughout Amsterdam organise a wide range of different parties during New Year’s Eve. The city’s municipality also puts on an enormous fireworks display at Oosterdok that completely engulfs the skies above Centraal Station and the river IJ.

📍 Venues throughout Amsterdam

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