Amsterdam Light Festival
City of Lights
See Amsterdam’s iconic canals transform into a glittering winter playground
Enjoy Amsterdam’s UNESCO protected canals all year round
What people are saying about Amsterdam Light Festival
About the festival
A very modern tradition
The Light Festival already feels as integral to the Dutch wintertime as Sinterklaas, but it’s a relatively new celebration – the first festival was held in 2011. ‘Light Art’ has existed in various forms for centuries, but it was only with the advent of LED technology that the potential for creating truly retina-boggling sculptures really took off. The dimly lit Dutch canals proved too big an opportunity to miss, and ALF as we know it was born!
In the spotlight
An undeniable highlight of this year’s collection of installations is a lost cathedral, set to float in the Herengracht. Peter Snijder's work, "Portam Civitatis" will be easy to spot, thanks to weaving ropes and Gothic architectural elements. It looks like a 3D blueprint. You can also look out for "A Tale of Two Cities" by artists Paul Vendel and Sandra de Wolf. This glowing neon metropolis was designed to symbolise decay and resurrection, just like the famous 1859 novel by Charles Dickens from which it takes its name.
Best by boat
The festival transforms the ambience of the whole city, and you can definitely enjoy it from afar – or, if you want to be really Dutch, while pedalling across the cobblestones at breakneck speed. But the only way to get the authentic Light Festival experience is to see it from the water. Many of the sculptures reveal extra secrets when viewed from below, and you'll even get to travel through several massive artworks as you glide across the canals.
Keep it cosy
It might sound obvious, but this is a winter cruise, and Amsterdam can get notoriously chilly – especially when you're out on the water at night. The Earlybird and Skip The Line cruises keep things nice and toasty, but make sure to wrap up warm for the Open Top cruise, and bring an extra sweater just in case. There are plenty of blankets on the boats, and you'll be warmed by festive cheer in no time!