There are few cities in Europe that have such a wealth of cultural identities as Amsterdam. Its historical legacy, as an attraction for immigrants from all over the world, has helped build a culture that is rich in heritage but diverse in its offerings. And Amsterdam does not rely solely on its past to define its avenues of culture. Investment in the arts and heritage sector draws a constant influx of new and exciting talent that means the cultural landscape is constantly changing and growing, defining Amsterdam as a city of free-flowing ideas and opportunities for all. Visitors to the city are able to taste, hear, see and experience all of the richness of the cultural world within a few square kilometers as they explore the city’s streets, making Amsterdam a cultural hotspot, always offering something new to experience.
Festivals are a popular attraction in Amsterdam, showcasing everything from cookery and fashion to music and street parties. Often celebrating Amsterdam’s rich cultural legacy, the most famous Festival you will come across is the Kings Day in April. This two day celebration takes the form of a massive street party, with markets, music, exhibitions and displays.
Famous for its artists and the creation of historical masterpieces, art lies at the heart of historical culture in the Netherlands. Rembrandt and Van Gogh paved the way for a culture that saw the emergence of state support for artists, allowing, even to this day, the development and creation of
new art forms and a thriving artistic community. The Museums in Amsterdam are home to some of the greatest works of art ever produced but also house exhibitions of contemporary art. The freedom allowed to artists to develop their skills was not confined to just painters. Designers, sculptors and architects also benefited from government support and opportunities, and the result was the creation of some of the most magnificent museums, theatres, concert halls and palaces in Europe, which can still be visited today. Modern buildings have not stood still in their design either – huge glass fronted structures shape the banks of the major canals, housing concerts and exhibitions and historical artifacts, as well as businesses and shopping arcades.
Home to magnificent concert halls, vast arenas, jazz and folk clubs and some of the hottest dance clubs around, Amsterdam caters for music lovers of every genre. Stars from across the globe can be found performing within the city’s limits in classical, and modern pop, rock and jazz performances. The Dutch National Opera made its home in Amsterdam and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra give regular concerts at the Royal Concert Hall. Smaller venues, including bars, museums and churches, continually host music recitals, choral and chamber music, live gigs by local bands and visiting artists.
Street music is also popular in Amsterdam and live bands can often be found in Dam Square, performing free for passers-by, and those who wish to enjoy the music from a street-side café.
At night time the street air buzzes with the strains of music floating out of the doorways of pubs and bars. Jazz clubs are extremely popular in Amsterdam. Often free to enter, this is an enjoyable way to enjoy the many and varied sounds of the Amsterdam night-life.
Photographic Museums including Foam and the Huis Marseille are famous for their innovative and diverse exhibitions of photographic works by artists from all over the world. As well as viewing photographs, Amsterdam offers the perfect opportunity to perfect your own photographic skills, with beautiful architecture and tranquil canal side scenes just waiting for your camera to capture.
Amsterdam has several theatres hosting local and international companies. From ballet, musicals and plays, to smaller scale improvisation and
comedy works, the theatre scene is vibrant and well supported by funding. New creative ideas are often explored here as well as classical work.
Film Festivals are a common feature of the artistic scene in Amsterdam, as well as many multi-chain and independent cinemas. Highlights include the World Cinema Amsterdam Festival, which takes places every August with both indoor and outdoor screenings, and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, held every November.
THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT
No visit to Amsterdam is complete without a visit to its most famous attraction, the Red Light District. Sometimes seedy, sometimes gloriously colorful and vibrant, the small area that makes up this district is packed with bars and night-clubs, restaurants and cafes. Feel free to browse the windows which are a vital ingredient in the RDL’s unique atmosphere, but please do not take photos of the ladies!