I often hear people calling Amsterdam a village. At first, I tended to agree. Amsterdam is quite easy to get around the centre with a bicycle or on foot. It has lots of quiet streets near the centre too and so maybe that makes it feels like a village. If you moved here from any of the world’s great cities like London, Paris, Tokyo or Istanbul, then sure, it must really feel like living in a village. Indeed, when I first moved here from Paris one of the first things I said was that it was too quiet and I would quickly get bored. I had been spoiled by many happy years living in the heart of Paris, a city with a seemingly endless list of things to see and do. Paris has so many world quality museums and visitor centres. It has so many great theatres, cinemas, comedy clubs, cultural events, concert halls, gig venues and so much more. After a short time living in Amsterdam, I realised that all the things I love to do and all the places I like to go are here too. Just like in Paris! In this article, I explore all the places and events that are available to everyone here so that you too can get more culture, see more things and have more fun. Here are my Top Three Cultural Events in Amsterdam
Almost everyone loves to go out for a drink or a nice meal. In Amsterdam, there is no shortage of great places to do that. Here, I am looking at more cultural pursuits in the city. Firstly, I want to start with the theatre. In Paris, I was effectively addicted to going to the theatre. Here, however, I was expecting it to be in Dutch and it mostly was. But I dug a little deeper and found the In Players who regularly put on some excellent plays in theatre across the city. And there are so many more just like them, including Orange Theatre company, The Badhuistheater in Oost, Downstage Left and so many more. As I love everyone to experience the magic of a super theatrical production, I created and handy overview of plays in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam has a huge selection of theatres of all sizes. This goes from the small tiny underground theatre such as De Nieuwe Anita in West, to the gorgeous Carré Theatre on the banks of the Amstel. There is always something to go and see if you know where to look. Or, if you are really keen, get involved yourself with one of the many production companies and tread the boards yourself! They always welcome actors and volunteers.
Oh wow. If you love cinema, then you are spoiled in Amsterdam. The city boasts a huge selection of wonderful cinemas dotted around the city. There really is something for every taste. Of course, there is the Pathé chain where you can catch all the very latest Hollywood blockbusting films. But they also have spread their offering and now have expat nights, Over 50’s events, Ladies Night and so much more. I use their Unlimited Pass and so I see a lot of films in their cinemas. Included in these is the absolutely beautiful Pathé Tuschinski on the Rembrandtplein. It was voted the world’s most beautiful cinema recently. It’s is a joy to visit. In the Pathé cinema chain, they show 3D films, 4DX with moving chairs and iMax for the ultimate cinematic experience. All good fun.
Another film ticketing system is Cineville. This fabulous system links up all the film screenings at Amsterdam’s lovely independent cinemas. It makes it easier to see what is on and with the card, you just book your tickets. It really helps these cinemas to compete in the same marketplace as Pathé. Cinemas like The Ketelhuis, De Uitkijk, LAB111 and more. It’s great to support these little cinemas, some of which are over 100 years old. The offerings are ever so varied including classics, world cinema films often with English subtitles, rarities and the occasional blockbuster too! Some of the cinemas have a bar and or a restaurant, so you really can make it a complete evening out. What’s not to love?
The comedy scene in Amsterdam is literally on fire! There are some wonderful venues to see performers work their magic including Boom Chicago, The Comedy Café and Toomler. These great venues have regular comedy events in English and sometimes in other languages too. Post lockdown, many comedians and performers are creating, hosting and performing a vast range of comedy events in different bars, cafés and theatres across the city.
Many of these events have loyal followers who know they are guaranteed an evening full of laughter. I keep a handy overview of these events in the comedy listings, but some events of note are Nutty Anita’s, Weird Uncle, Oosterpoke, Amsterdam English Comedy Night, Trigger Warning, Smoking Goose and so many more.
There are major international comedians visiting Amsterdam all the time. Sometimes you get lucky and catch them in one of the smaller sized venues mentioned above, but often they will perform at larger venues such as the AFAS Live. Many of the alumni from Boom Chicago have gone on to become world-famous performers on the international scene. They developed their magic sauce in Amsterdam, so to speak! All in all, if you want to go out in Amsterdam and have some laughs, then you cannot go wrong just picking an event, grabbing some tickets and turning up. It’s all out there and the scene is growing all the time!
So along with cinema and comedy events, the other element to complete the cultural trinity is the wonderful selection of Museums in the Amsterdam area. Of course, everyone knows the more famous ones such as the Van Gogh Museum, The Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk and the Hermitage. These are all wonderful and worth returning to over and again as they regularly have temporary exhibitions that are stunning. The breadth and quality of the permanent exhibitions in these above 4 museums are incredible. My top tip for visiting any of them is to be the first person in the queue in the morning. Then, when the doors open go to the art you want to see the most and you can have the whole place to yourself for some time. Spend 30 minutes just you and the Nightwatch. Or with the Sunflowers. That’s not a tip for art thieves, of course. There is always a watchful secure guard lingering, but there is something special about the early morning slots in these museums.
In Amsterdam, there are also over 50 other museums you can visit. Many of them are quite unique, some may say quirky. Yes, quirky, that sums them up nicely. The is the Pipe Museum, the Pianola Museum, Electric Ladyland and so many more unique and varied places. they all deserve discovery. Many, if not most of these can be visited with the Museum Card. For a low yearly fee of around 60 Euros, this card presents excellent value for museum lovers and is an absolute must-have card for people living in Amsterdam. Nationally, it includes around 400 hundred museums too!
Of Course, there is so much more to Amsterdam culture than my 3 favourites here. There is ballet, opera, more art, music, dance, sculpture and so much more. Keep an eye on the Iamsterdam cultural calendar as that is where it all appears. Go and discover. Immerse yourself in something new. It’s all culturally great in Amsterdam!
These events overview on my International Locals website is also a very useful place to see what is happening in Amsterdam! Whatever it is you like to see culturally, get out there and enjoy it all in Amsterdam.