Experiencing the Amsterdam Light Festival
Even repeat visitors will see Amsterdam in a whole new light during the annual Light Festival, when early winter sunsets give way to dazzling illuminations above the city’s UNESCO World Heritage–listed canals. Here are a few ways to enjoy the Amsterdam Light Festival to the fullest.
When to Go
The Amsterdam Light Festival takes place each year from the end of November to the end of January, to ring in and celebrate the holiday season.
Where to Go
Follow the festival’s canal-side exhibition on a scenic loop around the city, where diverse artworks brighten the banks of the Herengracht. Massive glowing tulips, glittering bicycles, and a projected rainbow bridge paint the waters between Oosterdok and Herengracht as part of the Water Colors exhibition. Meanwhile, a second exhibition route—the Illuminade walking trail—lights up the historical buildings and public parks of Amsterdam’s Weesper and Plantage neighborhoods.
How to Go
The best way to experience the Amsterdam Light Festival is from the water. Choose a specially-routed Water Colors canal cruise for a 75-minute tour of the city’s neon-bathed canals, with informative commentary and a warming glass of mulled wine included. You’ll learn about the mesmerizing light sculptures you pass while enjoying views of top attractions including the Amstel River, City Hall, the Hermitage Amsterdam, and Muntplein.
Alternatively, experience the festival from the saddle on a bike tour. Spin through Dam Square to festival sites including the Amstel River, Centraal Station, and the beautiful Herengracht canal, and cover the ground with ease.