4 In Destinations

Hanging Out in Amsterdam: An Evening at the Amsterdam Light Festival

Last Updated on December 19, 2021 by Nina Ahmedow

According to holland.com, the official tourism portal of the Netherlands, the Amsterdam Light Festival is “one of Europe’s principal light art festivals.”

amsterdam light festival colorful tulips

With all the amazing stuff happening in the city, it’s easy to forget that the city itself only has a population of about 800,000.

The Amsterdam Light Festival is an absolute institution in the colder season. As someone who has only recently moved to the city, I obviously had to check it out (it really isn’t that touristy). Due to the current situation, however, I opted to experience it by walking and not on a cruise. Cruises were not allowed to continue past 5 pm when we went, so we wouldn’t really have had the full experience.

amsterdam light festival installation

There are 23 artworks by national and international artists on display.

I’m not the artsiest person, but this is one of those events that I think everyone can enjoy.

With tighter restrictions currently in place, an outdoor experience like the Amsterdam Light Festival is a great thing to do this December and January. So Alfonso and I decided to take advantage of a Saturday evening with no rain in the forecast.

amsterdam light festival hanging clothes
amsterdam light festival moon

Here’s a tip: You don’t actually have to pay for the Amsterdam Lights Festival. While the cruises are, of course, not free, taking a walk is entirely free of charge, although you can buy a map online which comes with a description of each artwork. Note that cruises are currently not taking place, but you can still experience the art by walking until 10 pm (and of course, the lights are prettier when it’s darker).

As we live in the Staatsliedenbuurt which is quite close to the center, we decided to walk there from home, with the artwork being displayed from the center of the city towards the east. Once cruises take place again a cruise ticket will set you back €26,50, but you experience the whole thing from the comfort of sitting down instead of walking around in the cold.

But restrictions are constantly changing so make sure you double-check before you go. As of right now walking is still possible at 10 pm.

In order to stay warm on the long walk, I decided to wear my Thilde Bo swing coat by Miss Candyfloss. Because it’s really important to keep the feet warm I also wore my Misty Camel Faux Sheepskin Vegan Boots by Beyond Skin. To complete the look I decided to wear a new lipliner I recently purchased at Kruidvat (a Dutch drugstore chain), I love this pretty berry color for the colder season. And since I haven’t shown my face on here for a while, here are some photos from the evening.

me standing in the hallway smiling at the camera
me in the hallway smiling at the camera

I’m really glad it’s not too cold yet for the clothes I would wear in the winter in Greece.

But what about the art displays?

amsterdam light festival colorful tulips
amsterdam light festival fishing nets
amsterdam light festival flowers

The Amsterdam Light Festival in today’s form first took place in the winter of 2012/13. Due to the pandemic, it wasn’t possible for the festival to take place in its usual form last year, and even this year, it’s not entirely happening the way people had hoped. But the fact that we can even think about something like a light festival should remind us how privileged we are during this time.

The tulips and fishing nets (?) were my favorite pieces on the walk:

amsterdam light festival tulips
amsterdam light festival nets

Overall, I really loved the Amsterdam Light Festival. I think it’s great to have something to do outdoors when it gets colder and darker. That’s why Christmas markets are such a lovely tradition. The thing is that in the middle of a pandemic Christmas markets are obviously a lot riskier than an outdoors walk spread over 6.5km. And now that even museums had to close it’s really nice to have something to do outside of one’s apartment. It would be great if more cities put on a festival like this in the colder season.

me at the amsterdam light festival

Do you like light art installations? Have you ever been to the Amsterdam Light Festival, the Lyon Light Festival, or anything similar?


  • Reply
    Lily Fang
    December 20, 2021 at 9:37 pm

    I love light shows! It’s great that there’s a free option along with the paid one, and that the free option of walking around is pretty safe during this time. They have a similar festival in France in Lyon, and it was really cool, though super packed when I went in 2018. I love your outfit as well – the coat is so stylish and looks warm!

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      December 21, 2021 at 7:57 pm

      Yesss, I would love to go to the one in Lyon, it must be so amazing!!! And thanks, I love this coat though I’m not sure it will be warm enough if it gets much colder.

  • Reply
    April 13, 2022 at 11:21 am

    Schöne Fotos.
    Wir nehmen beim Festival of Lights meist die öffentlichen Verkehrsmittel. Die sind zwar recht voll aber deutlich günstiger als die Schiffe und geführten Bustouren. Einfach zu der Sehenswürdigkeit fahren und aussteigen.

    • Reply
      Nina Ahmedow
      April 13, 2022 at 1:46 pm

      Das ist auch eine gute Idee, Sara! Danke fuer den Tipp!

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