Occupying a prime site at the corner of Dam Square and dating from 1870, De Bijenkorf is Amsterdam’s leading department store and plays a leading role in the run up to Christmas. On Thursday 21 November the upmarket shop was the central star in the official Turn on the Lights ceremony at 7pm.
Christmas preparations kick off in mid-November in Amsterdam, when the streets are adorned with Christmas lights and store windows decorated with festive scenes. Celebrating Christmas in Amsterdam starts in the third weekend of November, when Sinterklaas and his helpers arrive in the city and sail down the Amstel River before parading through Amsterdam’s streets, which are lined with cheering youngsters.
Now Amsterdam is no slouch in the partying stakes, so the biggest problem here is deciding what to leave out. The choice of bars and pubs is so huge and much depends on your drinking style – rowdy, outside, inside, posh or dive. These 10 cool places to drink in Amsterdam certainly hit the spot with me.
Fall is the perfect time of year to get out of the city and into the countryside as trees begin to change color but days are still clear and sunny. The flat countryside of northern Holland means that the national parks around Amsterdam are ideal for walking and cycling – De Hoge Veluwe even offers complimentary white bikes to visitors.
Until recently Halloween was not commonly celebrated in Amsterdam; the Dutch equivalent is St Martin’s Day on November 11, when kids sing in the streets for rewards of sweets, but this is a celebration of random acts of kindness rather than the dark underbelly of black magic and horror. However, in the last few years, Halloween in Amsterdam has become big business.
Every year Amsterdam plays host to the biggest dance- and electronic-music club-based event in the world, importing 2,000 international musicians and artists into more than 70 clubs, pubs and theaters across the city for five days of hard partying, gigs and shows – Amsterdam Dance Event 2013 dates are October 16 through 20.
The annual night-time opening of around 50 of Amsterdam’s museums has become one of the city’s best-loved festivals. The date for Amsterdam Museum Night in 2013 is Saturday, November 2, which will see museums great and small open their doors from 7pm-2am, putting on workshops, special exhibitions, poetry readings, bands and DJs as well as offering food and wine to all comers.
Located in Museumplein alongside the its heavyweight compatriots the Stedelijk and Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum re-opened its doors in May after a period of renovation. Houses in a building designed by Dutch De Stijl architect Gerrit Rietveld, the museum is also celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013 with an exhibition entitled ‘Van Gogh at Work’.
Amsterdam is a city blessed with some of the best museums in the world, including the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh, but here are some suggestions of off-beat museums in Amsterdam that will reward a visit.
Amsterdam and the surrounding towns of Zaandam, Purmerend, Zuidost and Wormeveer were once guarded by a defensive ring of fortifications 84 miles (135 km) long, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The Stelling van Amsterdam (Amsterdam Defence Line in English) is backed by a series of 46 squat concrete forts and a complicated system of dykes, polders and locks on numerous canals.