In recent years, Amsterdam has become a hotbed for annual summer festivals, devoted to everything from various kinds of music, theatre, comedy, and more. Whether you’re hankering to hear classical music on the canals (the Grachtenfestival) or to celebrate Amsterdam Pride, there’s something for everyone spending time in the “Venice of the North” this season. Read on for a host of good reasons to get outside and enjoy the long summer days.
(Now through August 8)
Fancy a bit of English language comedy? Thanks to the Comedytrain summer comedy festival at Amsterdam’s Toomler club, you can enjoy top-quality stand-up acts from the U.S.A., U.K., Australia and Canada. Comedians featured include Eddie Pepitone and Alex Edelman from the America, Sean Hughes from Ireland, Brendan Burns from Australia, and the U.K.’s Richard Herring and Holly Walsh.
(July 22 through August 30)
Enjoy exotic greenery with your classical music at the Hortus Festival, held every year in botanical gardens in Amsterdam, Haren, Leiden and Utrecht. In Amsterdam concerts take place in the beautiful Hortus Botanicus (among the world’s oldest botanical gardens), on the terrace of the Orangery, its café and restaurant (you can eat here as well as listen). This year’s edition features works by Schumann, Chopin, Poulenc and Schönberg.
Gay Pride Amsterdam
(July 25 through August 2)
Priding itself (ahem) on being one of the world’s best and must fun prides, the Amsterdam edition stands out for its lively Canal Parade, the wonderful Drag Queen Olympics, and a host of parties and other events.
Appelsap Fresh Music Festival
Dutch hip-hop? It’s a thing, and it’s good and popular. Come and see for yourself at the Appelsap Fresh Music Festival, a daylong festival that showcases Dutch and international hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music in Amsterdam’s leafy Flevopark. Now in its fifteenth year, this year’s line-up features Rich Homie Quan, Mobb Depp, Snakehips and many more international and local talents.
(August 14 through 23)
This event celebrates classical music at atmospheric locations along Amsterdam’s beautiful canals (grachten) and waterways. Now in its 18th year, the Grachtenfestival has become a real Amsterdam classic, drawing more than 60,000 visitors to ten days of hundreds of events showcasing young musical talent.
Jane Szita is on the Netherlands beat for Travel + Leisure. She lives in Amsterdam.