Planning an Outdoor Event in Amsterdam
The city of Amsterdam is one of the most popular travel city destinations in Europe, and increasingly becoming an attractive location for international events. Famous for kilometres of grachten (or canals), the Anne Frank House, and, the Netherlands capital is a hub for culture, rich history and a vibrant nightlife. Often termed the kingdom of cyclists, there are actually more bikes than people in Amsterdam; with 1.33 bikes per person, it is the most popular and efficient mode of transport around the city, and certainly a marked feature of Dutch culture.
The Netherlands’ capital has over 165 canals, covering 50km across the city; with the inner ring of canals being recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site in itself. Amsterdam is home to the only floating flower market (Bloemenmarkt) in the world, and is famous for its Canal boat tours and cruises, where people can explore the city from the comfort of a canal boat. With such a range of neighbourhoods, unique architecture, and history, as well as a plethora of coffee shops, it’s no wonder nearly 9 million tourists come to the city every year.
1. Neighbourhoods and Outdoor Areas
Each neighbourhood in Amsterdam has its own unique character and vibe, and plays host to a range of annual music, cultural and theatrical events and festivals. The mix of funky festivals and events, and laid-back bars and beautiful scenery makes Amsterdam a picturesque city, perfect for hosting a range of events
The neighbourhoods of De Wallen, Nieuwmarkt, Grachtengordel, and Jordaan form the historical centre of Amsterdam. De Wallen, famous for being the Red Light District, sees canals traversing through the streets and can be reached by foot from Amsterdam Central Station, where Grachtengordel, otherwise known as the Canal Belt sees hundreds of canal and cruise tours every day.
By travelling a little further north, you can see a blend of beautiful countryside and outside spaces and the growing industrial, chic neighbourhood which characterises the whole city. From the buzz of northern De Pijp, down to De Plantage, where elegant tree-lined boulevards boast a wealth of cultural attractions, to the Nieuwmakrt en Lstage, home to the botanical gardens and Amsterdam Zoo; Amsterdam has it all.
There are also a range of open parks and recreational grounds, which offer perfect locations for open air festivals, open air cinemas and other outdoor festivities and events! Het Amsterdamse Bos is a “mosaic of wet and dry patches”, host to around 250 events a year; from weddings, to parties and sports events, to theatre, dance and music. Further west Park de Oeverlanden, is popular for water sports, large picnic and outdoor events, and Stichting Sportpark de Eendracht, a popular location for charity sporting events. Other parks, such as Vondelpark, Remrandtpark and Westerpark, are popular locations for music and art festivals, as well as open air comedy nights.
Amsterdam’s range of beautiful scenery, open spaces and winding canals make it a perfect place for a range of events. Open air cinemas are increasing in popularity; The Forest Film Festival in July the Amsterdamse Bostheater shows five themes movie nights at the end of July. Other popular film and cinema festivals include the Pluk de Nacht, the World Cinema Amsterdam, a weeklong celebration of movies from a range of cultures and arts-forms, and the Open Air Cinema Mercatorplein, celebrating queer films, as part of Amsterdam Pride. The Vondelpark Open-Air Theatre is a hugely popular attraction for locals and tourists in the centre of the city can watch free gigs and shows, suitable for all ages
2. Popular Events in Amsterdam
There are a range of annual events that visit Amsterdam every year. Famous events include the Christmas markets, where giant Christmas trees and ice rinks pop up throughout the city, and the Light Festival in Amsterdam City Center, which illuminates the city and its canals. Amsterdam Gay Pride is probably the most interntaitonll reognised extravaganza in the city, where the Canal Parade sees a huge parade of boats and floats cruising teh inner canals on the first Saturday of August. April 27th marks King’s Day, the most anticipated annual event in Amsterdam, a national holiday celebrating King Willem Alexander’s birthday. Live music, street vendors, outdoor bars can be found all over the city, and everyone in the city is out to party and celebrate together!
Here is an event plan for a King’s Day boat parade – you can plot everything from Dutch flags, to bunting and lighting, to lifeguard and safety boats!
Amsterdam’s range of beautiful scenery, open spaces and winding canals make it a perfect place for a range of events. Open air cinemas are increasing in popularity; The Forest Film Festival in July the Amsterdamse Bostheater shows five themes movie nights at the end of July. Other popular film and cinema festivals include the Pluk de Nacht, the World Cinema Amsterdam, a weeklong celebration of movies from a range of cultures and arts-forms, and the Open Air Cinema Mercatorplein, celebrating queer films, as part of Amsterdam Pride. The Vondelpark Open-Air Theatre is a hugely popular attraction for locals and tourists in the centre of the city can watch free gigs and shows, suitable for all ages.
Other popular events include Amsterdam Open Air; an electronic music, arts and culinary festival, held at Gaasperpark every June. ZeeZout’s beach party style festival in Fruittuin van West between Amsterdam and Haarlem, attracts thousands of music and party goers every summer, with other celebrations of art and culture, such as First Art Fair and the EuropeArt Fair, uniting a global network of art lovers in the heart of the city. KOHA Open Stage provides talented young classical musicians the opportunity to perform to a live audience against the backdrop of the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam.
3. Getting around the City
Unsurprisingly, the most popular, efficient and accessible way to travel around Amsterdam. With over 513km of dedicated cycle paths in Amsterdam and the surrounding region, it is estimated that half of all city journeys taking place on bikes! Event planners in Amsterdam, and indeed other cities in the Netherlands, should plan for bicycle routes in and out of the event, as well as bicycle parking and lockable provisions. Another amazing way to both see and get around the city is via rollerskate! Every Friday, weather permitting, the Friday Night Skate takes people on a 20km adventure through the city; starting at Vondelpark and winding its way through the city.
Beyond this, Amsterdam has an impressive network of metros, buses, teams, trains and event ferries. To get around the inner city, Trams run from and terminate at the AMsterdam Central Station, with ‘Tram 2’ being famous for travelling up and down the spine of the Netherland’s capital, stopping along famous landmarks such as Amsterdam Central Station, the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal, and the Royal Palace.
The public Transport Chip Card, OV-Chipkaart, is the most efficient way to get through town. Users can purchase a GVB card and have unlimited transport on public transport for 48 or 72 hours; very attractive for weekend city-breakers and those travelling around the city to attend an event. Cash is no longer accepted on buses or trams, but contactless payments and advanced tickets are the way to go.
4. Event Permits in Amsterdam
As is true for the majority of cities, no event can go ahead without the approval of the local council and city office, by means of an event application and subsequent permit. Events attracting more than 2,000 attendees will have to get their application in by November 1st the year before the event takes place. It’s not necessarily cheap, but without a permit an event cannot be run; with application for permits ranging from €1,011 for events of under 500 visitors, to €16,206.40 for events expecting over 10,000 attendees. You can find all the information regarding event permits and the process on the City of Amsterdam website.
Event planners can also apply for subsidies, if their event or initiative aims to improve the local community, neighbourhood, or helps contribute to policy goals of the city. All conditions can be found here, in Dutch and English. Subsidies range from grants for education and youth, to art and culture, and most recently to sustainability and green subsidies. There is also a new provision that alongside the permission from the local council, event planners will need a sustainability permit and to ensure their event complies with sustainability guidelines. Every event must appoint a contact person for sustainability issues, and with the guidelines applying to all scales of event, and covers energy, waste and water management, and transportation.
It’s important to note that from January 1st 2023, events and festivals in Amsterdam will be charged a specific entertainment tax (vermakelijkhedenretributie); for every extra ticket sold over 500, the event must pay an additional €1.50.