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Halloween in Amsterdam

By Viator, October 2013

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The Dutch equivalent of the American Halloween is St Martin’s Day, which falls on November 11 and celebrates a random act of kindness towards St Martin, who was taken in by a stranger when he had fallen on hard times. On this day in Amsterdam, kids sing in the streets for neighbors and friends and are rewarded with sweets and fruit but there is nothing of the superstition and horror that underlies Halloween in the US and UK.

However and perhaps inevitably, Halloween in Amsterdam has become big business in the last few years; it’s now widely celebrated in the pubs and clubs, but it’s not the family event that it is in the US and UK. It’s a night for adult fun, with unsettling cabarets, macabre parades and banging late-night parties full of scarily real zombies and vampires.

Bars and clubs in the center of the city join in the freaky fun with themed parties and ghostly decorations and Amsterdam even has its own Halloween Festival as well as a massive Halloween parade but it’s all rather hard core and louche, with twenty-somethings dressed in S&M gear and various slightly debauched cabaret performances.

So what to do if you want to join in Halloween fun in Amsterdam with your family? Get out the fancy dress and head straight to the Amsterdam Dungeon to discover bygone horrors, instruments of torture and plague victims. When your kids have had their fill of gore, hop on a canal boat for a night-time boat trip along dark, deserted canals. As your guide relates chilling tales of the ghosts and phantoms that haunt Amsterdam’s streets, tuck into suitably ghastly fare such as bat soup, mouse droppings and witches’ hats while enjoying unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks in a convivial if slightly eerie atmosphere.

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