Each December towns and cities around the world put up their own display of sparkling lights to celebrate the festive season. But in Amsterdam something even more special happens. In the last month of each year the city is also decorated with an exhibition of light art installations to make the streets shine even more brightly after dark. This is the Amsterdam Light Festival.

Bunch of Tulips Peter Koros Amsterdam Light Festival

Bunch of Tulips, Peter Koros


What exactly is the Amsterdam Light Festival?

The Amsterdam Light Festival is an outdoor art exhibition featuring a collection of large scale light art installations. Created by international and local artists alike, the work is placed across the city’s network of canals. As light is the main visual medium the exhibition only really comes alive at night, and with the positioning of the artwork either near or on the waterways its effect is further amplified through the water’s reflections.                                                         

Bridge of the Rainbow Gilbert Moity Amsterdam Light Festival
Bridge of a Rainbow, Gilbert Moity


Where is the Amsterdam Light Festival?

Although the different artworks may look a bit random if you spot them on the off chance, it’s actually mapped out in really well structured routes through the city. There is usually an option to take a boat around the route which starts at Amsterdam Centraal and takes you along the canal network (for a charge of course). Or you can walk the routes instead for free. There are maps available to buy that show the circuit and where all the different art installations are. Although there are some interactive installations that are better to experience on the boat tour, the majority of the installations are just as good if not better to experience on foot. Plus walking it means you can go at your own pace and stop for as long as you like to explore the work and take some great photos.

Rhizome House, DP Architects 


When is the Amsterdam Light Festival?

The festival is an annual event. It usually starts at the beginning of December and runs through to the end of January.

Together Luigi Console & Valentina Novembre Amsterdam Light Festival
Together Luigi Console & Valentina Novembre 


Why should you go?

You definitely don’t have to be an art critic to appreciate and enjoy the festival. The majority of concepts behind the installations being relatable to a wide audience. And even if you aren’t bothered about the meanings of the work, it’s still wonderful to look at from a simply visual point of view. The festival is also a great way to explore Amsterdam better. Whether you’re seeing the city from the waterways or exploring the streets on foot, this festival will make you discover areas of the centre you probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

Amsterdam Light Festival


Looking for something to do in Amsterdam that lets you explore a different side to the city? Then this one is definitely one for you.


Interested in visiting the Netherlands?

Read my other Netherlands posts


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