New Year in Amsterdam

December 18, 2012 by

Festivals & Events, Free Things To Do, Things To Do, Travel Tips


Amsterdam Light Festival at New Year. Image courtesy of TinaMac3 on Flickr.

New Year in Amsterdam sees the city erupt in celebration of Oudejaarsavond with fantastic firework displays and late-night fun for residents and a multitude of hard-partying Euro-revellers alike. Stores close in the early afternoon on New Year’s Eve and reopen on January 2; most of Amsterdam’s street parties are accessible on foot in the largely pedestrianized city center.

Street Parties

Amsterdam’s largest – and free – street party kicks off in Oosterdok at 11.15pm with a massive firework display over the NEMO Science Centre and live music, but there are celebrations everywhere. The streets of the Jordan overflow with merrymakers pouring out of the bars for spontaneous firework parties and in Chinatown firecrackers shriek on every corner.

Club Parties

Every self-respecting club, bar, hotel, and restaurant in Amsterdam holds its own party, most of which get going well after midnight. It’s vital to book tickets well in advance (they can be expensive at around €40 a pop) for themed parties (school prom, glam rock) in well-known clubs such as Paradiso and Melkweg; there’s a techno marathon at edgy Westergasfabriek, a Roaring 20s party at KHL Café as well as hip-hop at TIKTAK’s night at the Heineken Music Hall and a wildly popular Secret Affair NYE bonanza at The Sands beach club.

New Year Countdown

Up to 40,000 party people gather for the traditional New Year countdown in Museumplein, with the Rijksmuseum as a majestic backdrop. Festivities get underway at 9pm, and live rock concerts continue until the wee hours.


The New Year is heralded in with several official firework displays, with the best found in Dam Square, which is crammed with drinks tents and live music stages. Other displays take place around Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein and Nieuwmarkt. Stand on the Magere Bridge to see fireworks whizzing upwards all around the city.

Amsterdam Light Festival

Amsterdam’s first Light Festival was hugely successful last year and the second event runs from December 6 to January 19, 2014, illuminating the Amstel and façades along the canalside with a million twinkling lights and nightly laser shows.

Recovery Tips

Blow cobwebs away with a turn on the ice rink in Museumplein on New Year’s Day and put your feet up at Café Cobra for a restorative glass of zopie (mulled wine); if that’s too much to contemplate, take an Amsterdam canal trip to see the sights of the city.

- Sasha Heseltine

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