When the skies are grey and your morning commute is hampered by frosty windscreens or chilly trains, it’s only natural to wish that summer would come quicker. The longer days and bluer skies, the pints of cider after work and weekend barbecues with friends just seem too many months away from now. Summer brings with it something else to look forward to: festivals.
Whether it’s music, food or theatre, there’s always reason to celebrate when the weather’s warm and spirits are high, and none more so in one of Europe’s friendliest cities, Amsterdam. Home to Heinkenen and hemp, the city is a hive of activity all year round, and the perfect distance for a weekend away. Why not seize the day by aligning your trip with the Dam’s festival calendar? Here are some highlights for 2020 from the city of coffee shops and canals.
Best for: music
Mystic Garden Festival
Swap out the barren desert of Burning Man for a leafy, verdant park and you have yourself the beginnings of Mystic Garden Festival. This magical festival, full of eccentric costumes and psychedelic face paint is a celebration of nature and music over seven stages, with dancers and DJs setting the scene for all-out ecstacy. The backdrop of this enchanting festival is Sloterpark, where you can dance beneath a canopy of trees well into the night with a choice of five stages. Find freedom here on 20 June.
Amsterdam Music Festival
Bright lights and laser beams: an adrenaline-induced state of euphoria awaits at one of Amsterdam’s biggest festivals, housed in the Johan Cruijff Arena. Entering its eighth year, the festival has seen the likes of David Guetta, Jonas Blue, Tiësto and The Chainsmokers gracing its stage. Expect pyrotechnics and electro-beats at every turn: you’ll leave feeling pumped up and ready for round two. Feel the bass on 24 October.
Slow the tempo down at Jordaan Festival, an honest celebration of Amsterdam folk music and tradition. This open-air festival takes place in its neighbourhood’s namesake, playing host to a range of Dutch singers celebrating ‘the ballad’ and songs about life. On top of this, expect to find drum bands, opera and cabaret on the stage. Elsewhere, a flea market welcomes you to pick up odd trinkets as well as typical food markets for a taste of the Dam. Grab your jacket and head down to Jordaan between 4 – 6 September.
Fans of electronic dance music will be in heaven at Dekmantel, a three-day festival set in a forest on the outskirts of Amsterdam. Globally renowned yet forward-thinking, there are typically six themed stages playing host to a whole range of music, from Jazz fusion to techno. Head into the woods between 31 July and 2 August.
Best for: food and drink
The Amsterdam Coffee Festival
This one is for those who wake up on the wrong side of bed in the mornings. Caffeine connoisseurs can rejoice with like-minded folk for three days at this fevered festival, which celebrates the vibrant coffee scene of Amsterdam. Entering its seventh year, you’ll find live latte art, roasting competitions and barista training all under one roof. An impressive 30,500 coffee-fiends flocked here in 2019 to get a buzz from the black stuff, and this year you can get your caffeine fix between 13-15 March.
OOST Tapt Festival
A craft revolution is brewing over at OOST Tapt Festival for the beer drinkers out there. This chilled-out event takes it back to basics, to relaxing on the grass with your friends, drinking good beer and snacking on tasty food. Mid-afternoon, dial it up with a round or two of beer pong or get down at the silent disco. There’s a heavy focus on local beers here, so if you’re down for trying something new, the brews won’t disappoint. Raise a glass on 16 May.
Taste of Amsterdam
The ultimate foodie playground is back for its 12th edition. Dive in tastebud-first and experience all the gastronomic delights of the Dutch capital and beyond, with more food and drink stalls than canals in Amsterdam. World-class chefs, cooking tents and cocktail-making are some of the offerings available. Become a wizened whiskey expert over at the Johnnie Walker Experience, or watch well-known chefs spill their secrets over a live demonstration of their culinary prowess. Sate your hunger between 29 May – 1 June.
Until 31 March 2020, make the most of our exclusive offer with Taste of Amsterdam: enjoy two tickets for €20 instead of €28 by booking here.
Bacchus Wine Festival
As Euripides once said, ‘where there is no wine, there is no love’, and surely it must be so if the Greeks appointed a deity to stand over it. Pay homage to the god of the grape harvest with plenty of food, music and wine over two weekends of tastings, DJ sets and pure enjoyment. Stride in with purpose and walk out on wobbly legs after copious glasses (sorry, bottles) of your favourite vintage, before stocking up on a new regional speciality from the pop-up stalls. Revel in the fun between 12-14 and 19-21 June.
Best for: parties, parades and performances
Tulip Festival 2020
One of Amsterdam’s biggest exports and most iconic symbols is celebrated over a month-long festival. Flock here in the spring to see tulips blossom into life at over 80 locations around the capital – from hotels to museum gardens, the city becomes one colourful canvas marking the beginning of springtime. Prepare to be impressed by the unique and unforgettable Keukenhof Tulip Gardens, where more than seven million flower bulbs are planted for a fantastic display of colour. The endless tulip fields on the edge of Amsterdam are a blanket of natural beauty, and perfect for a serene escape from the bustling centre. Watch Amsterdam bloom to life in April.
One of the biggest celebrations on the Dutch calendar, King’s Day commemorates the Monarch’s birthday. Bright bunting spills from every avenue, locals and tourists alike flood the street in convivial harmony, creating a city-wide party from dawn till dusk (and then some). The only caveat? Orange really is the new black here, with hats, scarves, tees and accessories all in blazing orange (so be sure to bring some shades). Wear your balloon crown with pride on 27 April.
Amsterdam Fringe Festival
For artsy types, Amsterdam’s Fringe Festival is all about showcasing the best of young and ambitious talent. Brimming with creative energy, this 11-day display of live performances is sure to have you on the edge of your seat. There’ll be an action-packed programme full of undiscovered acts waiting to be explored, so join in the freedom between 3-13 September.
Wave your flag loud and proud along Amsterdam’s canals at this year’s Pride. A spectacular kaleidoscope of colour, music, costume and joy, thousands gather annually to witness the iconic parade and come together in unity. The parade, on 1 August, starts at the Scheepvaart museum before floating down the river towards Westerdok. Of course, the parade is half the fun: when the sun goes down, head to the bars and clubs around Amstelveld. Share the love between 25 July – 2 August.