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Amsterdam | © neshom/Pixabay
Amsterdam | © neshom/Pixabay
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What's On In Amsterdam In December

Picture of Tom Coggins
Updated: 6 December 2016
There’s plenty of cultural activity going on in Amsterdam this December, which coincides with a long list of traditional Dutch yuletide festivities. Apart from Sinterklaas, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve, Amsterdam will host a city-wide lights festival, several must-see gigs, and a number of important exhibitions – events that will keep its cultural calendar rolling into 2017.


ART | Amsterdam Light Festival

📅 Thursday, December 1st – Sunday, January 22nd

During the festive season, Amsterdam hosts an elaborate light festival that illuminates its central canals and streets. Hundreds of fluorescent sculptures will be installed around the city, and this year, the festival will revolve around artwork that replicates the wonder of the natural world and installations which challenge the public’s perception of the city. A boat tour of Amsterdam Light Festival will be in service throughout December.

Tickets: free

📍 Locations throughout Amsterdam

MUSIC | Lovedance

📅 Thursday, December 1st

Lovedance is an annual party and fundraising event that takes place on World Aids Day. This year, its theme will be Absolutely Fabulous, and guests are encouraged to dress up in glittery or neon outfits. The party’s proceeds will be donated to HIV-focused charities, and all of the night’s DJs, bands, and dancers will be performing for free.

Tickets: €22.70

📍 Paradiso, Weteringschans 6-8, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 20 626 4521

ART | Frans Post. Animals in Brazil

📅 Until Sunday, January 8th

Frans Post was the first European painter to portray American landscapes, and in 1635, he went on a voyage through Brazil in order to depict the country’s native flora and fauna. These paintings will appear at the Rijksmuseum during December, alongside a large collection of exotic taxidermied specimens.

Tickets: €17.50

📍 The Rijksmuseum, Museumstraat 1, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 900 0745

CULTURE | FADE Away + BURN OUT – The Side Room

📅 Saturday, December 3rd – Sunday, December 4th

Unfortunately, The Side Room will be closing its doors in December, and to commemorate its cultural accomplishments, its team has decided to put on a final farewell that will feature a roaring open fire, music, live performances, and beer from Butcher’s Tears brewery. The Side Room was established as a platform for culturally conscious lectures, workshops, and parties and will hopefully return in the near future with another series of forward-thinking events.

Tickets: free

📍 The Side Room / Butcher’s Tears, Karperweg 45, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 6 53909777


MUSIC | De La Soul

📅 Monday, December 5th

American hip-hop trio De La Soul have been making pioneering rap music since the late 80s and recently released their latest album, And The Anonymous Nobody, via a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. The group is renowned for their playful lyrics, jazz-infused production, and amicable stage personas – qualities that have earned them numerous awards.

Tickets: €29.50

📍 Paradiso, Weteringschans 6-8, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 20 626 4521

CULTURE | Goodbye Sinterklaas

📅 Tuesday, December 6th

On December 5th, the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaasavonds, an evening of gift giving and celebrations that is comparable to Christmas Day in the English-speaking world. The next day, Sinterklaas (Santa Claus’ Dutch equivalent) will be departing the Netherlands and will make his grand exit from Museumplein. After waving goodbye to Amsterdam, Sinterklaas will leave the Netherlands by helicopter.

Tickets: free

📍 Museumplein, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

FILM | Soof 2

📅 Thursday, December 8th

Soof 2 follows the exploits of its titular middle-aged mom as she re-invents herself after a tumultuous divorce. The first Soof was a massive success in the Netherlands, and its sequel is set to reunite its all-star cast. The film will be showing in cinemas throughout the country from December 8th, including Pathé Tuschinski.

Tickets: €10.50

📍 Pathé Tuschinski, Reguliersbreestraat 26-34, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 900 1458

ART | Loretta Fahrenholz At The Stedelijk

📅 Saturday, December 10th – Sunday, March 5th

German-born artist Loretta Fahrenholz creates documentary films that combine real-life footage with performances and fictional narratives. Her work typically draws from porno or disaster movies and uses genre specific themes to examine the lives of people living in large cities. The Stedelijk will be presenting several of her projects this winter and will unveil Ditch Plains – a pseudo-documentary that Fahrenholz shot in New York during Hurricane Sandy.

Tickets: €15

📍 Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Museumplein 10, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 20 573 2911


DANCE | Spirit Walking

📅 Tuesday, December 13th

Nederlands Dans Theatre will be performing an updated version of León and Lightfoot’s phenomenal piece, called Spirit Walking, this December. Philip Glass has composed a special score for the occasion that will be played by the Ragazze Quartet during the show. The company is renowned for its uncompromising approach to contemporary dance and eclectic repertoire of styles.
The show takes place at Westergasfabtiek.

Tickets: €35

📍 de Stadsschouwburg, Leidseplein 26, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 20 624 2311

PHOTOGRAPHY | Public Opening – Three New Exhibitions

📅 Thursday, December 15th

FOAM is set to launch three separate photography exhibitions this winter and will inaugurate the new season with a large public opening. The exhibits are dedicated to three individual artists: Hiroshi Sugimoto, Harley Weir, and Sofia Borges. Each of these photographers has perfected their individual style and has received serious accolades for their contributions to the medium.

Tickets: free

📍 FOAM, Keizersgracht 609, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 20 551 6500

HISTORY | Then And Now The Hall

📅 Saturday, December 17th

Although de Hallen is now mainly associated with high-quality food and design, the building was originally used as Amsterdam’s principal tram depot. To honor the site’s fascinating heritage, de Hallen has organized an afternoon of talks and films that will delve into the depot’s past. Several former employees will be on hand to share their wisdom, and the event will end with a guided tour through the building.

Tickets: free

📍 De Hallen, Hannie Dankbaarpassage 47, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 20 705 8164

FOOD | Pure Winter Markt

📅 Sunday, December 18th

The smell of Christmas will be wafting through the streets of Amsterdam this December, and several parts of the city will host large Christmas markets featuring freshly baked sweets and other warming festive treats. Organic, sustainable yuletide food will be on offer at Pure Winter Markt, and most of its vendors are based in Noord-Holland, making it a great place to pick up some local delicacies.

Tickets: free

📍 Frankendael Park, Middenweg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


FILM | k.364 By Douglas Gordon

📅 Until Saturday, December 31st

Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon’s latest video installation follows two Israeli classical musicians as they retrace the routes that their grandparents used while fleeing Nazi persecution. The film sees them visit several important sites from their families’ history – places that contain tragic reminders of World War II and the Holocaust’s effects on the present.

Tickets: €15

📍 National Holocaust Museum, Plantage Middenlaan 27, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 20 531 0380

THEATRE | Made In Here

📅 Tuesday, December 20th

Tickets: €15

Made in Here will explore the disconcerting reality of modern cities and the repercussions of increased urbanization. To confront these problems, the play will employ themes drawn from multiple genres while paying close attention to the media’s representation of sustainability and consumerism. The piece will be directed by promising Dutch dramaturge Davy Pieters.

Tickets: €15

📍 Frascati Theatre, Nes 63, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 20 626 6866

MUSIC | L.A.N. Party

📅 Friday, December 23rd

Amsterdam-based alternative music magazine Subbacultcha has booked an impressive lineup of local artists for this year’s L.A.N. winter party. The night will feature a number of established Dutch musicians from a wide spectrum of genres. Highlights include Bea1991’s resonate electro-pop and psychedelic garage-rock from Rotterdam’s Iguana Death Cult.

Tickets: €11

📍 Melkweg, Lijnbaansgracht 234A, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 20 531 8181

ART | Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival

📅 Saturday, December 10th – Sunday, February 5th

The theme of this year’s Dutch Ice Sculpture festival will be ‘Music Inspires,’ meaning that the event’s artists will be tasked with creating elaborate frozen artworks that capture a sense of rhythm or replicate an iconic moment from musical history. The festival will feature a massive variety of sculptures that will be hacked, chainsawed, and chiseled on site.

Tickets: €16.50

📍 ArenA Boulevard, Amsterdam-Zuidoost, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


SPORT | Univé Gym Gala

📅 Thursday, December 29th

Univé Gym Gala is an enormous sporting spectacle that combines live gymnastics with choreographed dance and music. Several Olympic level athletes will be making an appearance, and gold medal winner Sanne Wevers is booked to perform. The event is now in its 20th year, and 2016’s Univé Gym Gala is gearing up to be the most impressive yet.

Tickets: €27.50

📍 Ziggo Dome, De Passage 100, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 900 2353663

HEALTH | ICE* Amsterdam

📅 Until Sunday, February 5th

Each December, Amsterdam’s municipality sets up several temporary ice rinks around the city. The largest, and most iconic, of their number will be situated on Museumplein – a central plaza that borders the Rijksmuseum and ‘I Amsterdam’ letters. The rink rents out ice skates and regularly hosts wintery-themed events, including Human Icebowling.

Tickets: €6

📍 Museumplein, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

ARCHITECTURE | From Stopera To A’dam Toren

📅 Until Tuesday, February 7th

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Amsterdam Centre for Architecture (ARCAM) will be hosting a retrospective of the social and spatial changes that have occurred in the Dutch capital since the museum’s inauguration in 1986. The installations will detail Amsterdam’s recent history and provide insights into the city’s contemporary urban landscape.

Tickets: free

📍 ARCAM, Prins Hendrikkade 600, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, +31 20 620 4878

MUSIC | New Year’s Eve

📅 Saturday, December 31

Being the city that it is, Amsterdam has a number of massive events going on during New Year’s Eve. To name a few, Club NYX, Westergasfabriek, Mediahaven and Paradiso are all hosting indoor parties while large parts of Amsterdam will be turned into open air events.

Tickets: varies by event

📍 Locations throughout Amsterdam