There are so many good festivals in Amsterdam over the summer, it can be difficult to choose which to go to, especially if you’re on a budget. The good news is that many of these festivals are free to attend, which will save you a significant amount of money. I’ve rounded up the best of the rest so that you don’t miss out. Here are my top picks.
Vondelpark Open Air Theatre: 5th May – 25th August
Vondelpark Open Air Theatre events are held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday – with dance, theatre, comedy, cabaret, jazz and music as central themes you should be able to find something for your taste. The performances happen whether the weather is good or bad and many people bring along picnics. My top picks include the Junior National Ballet, The Dutch Philharmonc orchestra’s brass ensemble, and the World Cinema Amsterdam screenings.
To get there: The stage is close to ‘t Blauwe Theehuis. Check on Google maps for the precise location.
Gay Pride: 26th July – 3rd August
There are several events leading up to the boat parade, but this is my favourite event. The whole atmosphere is buzzing and the canals are lined with people out to celebrate. There are spectators in boats, and the route gets crowded very quickly, so if you want a good spot make sure you get there early. Bring your own alcohol (but remember ladies, you’ll need to pay to pee, and it’s most likely that you’ll have to queue for it too).
To get there: Pick a spot on the route and wait for the boats to come past. It starts at 2pm from the Westerdok harbour at the beginning of the Prinsengracht.
Pluk de Nacht: 6th August – 16th August
Pluk de Nacht is an open air film festival which showcases unreleased independent cinema from across the world. It’s outdoors, and the weather can be unrealiable so they hire out blankets and they have a backup plan in case it rains too heavily. This is completely accessible to English speakers, as they always have English subtitles and some films are from English-speaking countries.
To get there: Take bus 48 from Central Station and get out at Barentzsplein. You do not need to book, however if you do want to sit in a deckchair it is advisable to book this online in advance.
Grachtenfestival: 15th August – 24th August
The Grachtenfestival (canal festival) is one of my favourites, and culminates with a spectacular performance on the canals every year. With several classical music events spanning across 10 days in very unique locations across Amsterdam, you’ll find something to suit your taste. Last year I attended the Prinsengracht concert (which was a little wet), and a really brilliant performance by a wind quartet in North. Check their site for the most up to date information.
This picture showcases some of the highlights from last years Grachtenfestival
This festval takes place at multiple places around Amsterdam, and for some events you will need to book in advance.
Amsterdam Heritage Days: 13th September – 14th September
Have you ever wanted to go into a building that is normally closed to the public? Amsterdam Heritage days allows you to do exactly that when several private homes, buildings and monuments open themselves up to the general public.
This festval takes place at multiple places around Amsterdam and you will need to book in advance.
Are you planning on going to any of these festivals this summer? And what are your favourite free festivals in Amsterdam? I would love to hear about them.