Planning a trip to Amsterdam in August 2019?
You will want to put these events on your bucket list
Are you coming to Amsterdam in August? Good call. It might be just the most pleasant European capital to visit this time of the year. Thanks to the sea close at hand, Amsterdam is spared by merciless heat waves. And for once, in August we can truly appreciate the winds that swipe over our flat land.
So, instead of melting, Amsterdam in August is the place to relax in the sun and warm breeze. The minute the sun comes out, Amsterdammers invade every square inch of the outdoors space. Terraces pop up along the streets, by the canals, and on the roofs. (Yes, we do have a few favorites to recommend. Don’t hesitate to jump directly to Food and Drinks. You are welcome. We understand summer priorities.)
The relaxed vibe is also due to the generous choice of wonderful events and activities to enjoy in Amsterdam in August. Ready to dive in? Let’s go!
9-18 August | Canal festival (Grachtenfestival) | Various Locations
Calling all music lovers! The Canal Festival brings to Amsterdam in August young musical talents from around the world. Are you a fool for classical music, a jazz aficionado, or simply curious about music from various cultures? With 90 locations, 250+ concerts, and endless surprises, you will surely find something to tune into.
If we had to pick one performance, it would probably be the ‘music of happiness’ Carmina Burana at the iconic Paradiso. This former 19th century church became a night club and a pop culture venue in 1968. Ever since, it has hosted all kinds of events— from political debates to science conferences to fashion shows. Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Prince, The Rolling Stones are just a few names among many stars who played at Paradiso.© Melle Meivogel — The Canal Festival opening concert in 2018
9-25 August | The Parade | Martin Luther Kingpark
The Parade is the only traveling theater festival in the world. Every year, it begins in Rotterdam, visits the Hague and Utrecht, and winds up in Amsterdam in August.
Colorful tents house over 80 performances for all ages and tastes—theater, dance, mime, music. Most shows are unique to the Parade. Expect a lot of energy, charisma, mesmerism.. and a little eccentricity. Some shows are offered in English, but even those in Dutch are well worth a look. There are also special shows for children.
The Parade began years ago with an old tractor, two caravans, a make-shift stage, and a hopeless dreamer. Terts Brinkhoff, an enthusiast of live performances, launched several outdoors festivals around The Netherlands. Since 1990, these ‘theaters without walls’ have been brought under the umbrella of The Parade.
The shows run daily from 2 P.M. (except August 9th at 6 P.M.) till midnight. An average show is about 30 minutes long. Entrance is free from 2 to 3 P.M. (except August 9th), then the access is 8,50 € (free for guests under 18), plus separate tickets to specific shows (from 3 € to 10,50 €). Tickets can be purchased online or at the entrance.
Check out the full programme and access details on The Parade official website.© IAmsterdam
Fridays and weekends | Open Air Theater | Vondelpark
Another great festival of live performances is the Open Air Theatre in Amsterdam’s ‘green lung’—Vondelpark. It runs through the entire summer, with shows taking place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- Friday 8:30 P.M. — Dance
- Saturday 2:00 P.M. — Performance by students or children
- Saturday 3:45 P.M. — Music
- Saturday 8:30 P.M. — Comedy
- Sunday Noon — Classic
- Sunday 3 P.M. — Music
13-18 August | Open Air Opera | Gardens of the Museum Van Loon
Love opera? Every summer, Museum Van Loon hosts an open air performance in its beautiful gardens. This year, it is The Old Maid and the Thief (1939)—a comic love story by Gian Carlo Menotti. This Italian-born composer worked extensively in the United States and wrote his librettos in English. The Old Maid and the Thief was initially produced by NBC radio.
If you appreciate traditional Italian opera and enjoy a clever modern twist to the story, Menotti’s work is a delight.
The setting adds to the charm. Museum Van Loon is an amazing 17th century canal house with perfectly preserved historic interiors. It is well worth a visit by itself, if you want to immerse yourself in the athmosphere of the Dutch Golden Age. Especially if you appreciate the Dutch Golden Age art—, because the first resident of this house was no less than the painter Ferdinand Bol, a student of Rembrandt.
Check out the performing dates in Amsterdam in August at the official website.
This is one of the most famous airs from The Old Maid and the Thief‘—What Curse for a Woman is a Timid Man’.
July 15 to September 15 | Long Live Rembrandt | Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum is not done celebrating the 350th death anniversary of Rembrandt. Two blockbuster exhibitions bookend this year—All the Rembrandts (over) and Rembrandt-Velazquez: Parallel Visions (coming October 10th, 2019).
In between, the Rijksmuseum explores the endless creativity of amateur artists inspired by the master of the Golden Age.
Earlier this year, the Rijksmuseum invited everybody to submit self-made artworks paying homage to Rembrandt. More than 8000 people answered the call. The jury selected almost 600 works—from all countries and ages. Long Live Rembrandt showcases 96 versions of The Night Watch, 132 self-portraits à la Rembrandt, and 253 artworks by children.
While you are in the Rijksmuseum, don’t miss the research and restoration project of the year! The original painting Night Watch is being studied with new imaging techniques before being restored in situ. You can follow the ‘Operation Night Watch’ online, and learn all the secrets of this exceptional painting on a private tour of the Rijksmuseum.
July 4 to August 4 | Nachtwacht 360 | Wanderlust
Speaking of new technologies, if you are in Amsterdam until August 4, you can check out an amazing 3D photographic replica of the Night Watch.
Nightwatch 360 is an impressive project by photographer Julius Rooymans and fashion designer Hans Ubbinkis. It is a 4×5 meters installation bringing Rembrandt’s famous painting to life. 22 lookalikes were casted among dozens of candidates from around the Netherlands. Authentic 17th-century weapons were borrowed from private collections, and the missing items rendered with 3D-printed props. The exhibition is complete with the portraits of the ‘sitters’ and a detailed photo account of the work process.
For more information, visit www.nachtwacht360.nl© Nachtwacht360
3 August | Amsterdam Gay Pride | Prinsengracht and other canals
Amsterdam wouldn’t be Amsterdam, a city of tolerance and freedom, without the Pride. This year’s edition (July 27th to August 4th) is centered around the theme of remembrance. It commemorates the Stonewall Riots in New York in June 1969—a series of protests against the harassment of gay bars.
Amsterdam Pride lasts for an entire vibrant week of events indoors and outdoors: exhibitions, film festivals, gay-friendly tours, street parties. The highlight of the program is the closing parade on the Amsterdam Canals (Saturday, August 3rd).
The participation in the Parade has been locked weeks ago. Here are the colorful boats that you will be able to see on the Canals.
Most of the Canal Parade takes place on the Prinsengracht Canal. The full route is Oosterdok — Nieuwe Herengracht — Amstel — Prinsengracht — Westerdok. Parts of the city center will be closed for traffic, and the entire Prinsengracht will be car-free and parking-free.
This is what the Canal Parade looked like in 2018.
Shows and museums are great, but a market is where you can really feel the pulse of a city. Amsterdam in August has plenty of lively markets to offer. The Albert Cuyp Market is getting all the buzz lately, and it is well deserved. Unfortunately, it also means that the place is now overtouristed.
We love to explore some alternative local markets. They have one thing in common—a ‘good story’. Organic ingredients, local produce, social initiatives—these markets are centered around high-quality products and responsible trade. They strive to connect people and to support independent, socially engaged entrepreneurs. We are ourselves big on sustainability and ethical commitment, and we appreciate their effort to promote slow life and social integrity.
4 August | Westergasfabriek & 25 August | De Hallen
Every first Sunday of the month, from noon to 6 P.M., the Westergasfabriek — former gasworks turned creative venue — hosts a lively Sunday market of art, fashion, design and food. This year, a second event is added. It will take place on August 25th at De Hallen — another trendy spot of Amsterdam, upcycled from a former tram depot.
11, 18, 25 August | Pure Market | Various locations
The traveling Pure Market is the place to go for high-quality Dutch (and international) food and crafts—all sustainable, organic and artisanal. Children will enjoy the solar-powered merry-go-round.
11 August at Amstelpark, 18 August at Amsterdamse Bos, 25 August at Park Frankendael. Each day from 11 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.
23-25 August | Uitmarkt | Around Museumplein and Leidseplein
Are you planning to visit Amsterdam again soon? If you are curious about cultural events in the coming year, stop by Uitmarkt.
It is an open-air fair where Amsterdam’s various cultural institutions present their program for the new season. Theatre, music, movies, books—this is the place to fill your agenda with all things culture.
Paddling pools | Various neighborhoods
On a hot summer day, what better for the kids than to make a splash? Keep your toddler(s) happy with Amsterdam’s paddling pools. They are cleaned every day, and usually chlorinated. Find the full list of public paddling pools on the city’s website. And if you feel like a refreshing dip yourself (Eva and Huibert do!), here are some city-approved locations.
Artis Royal Zoo | Plantage Kerklaan 38-40
Amsterdam has a fantastic zoo — large, green, and entertaining for the whole family. It comes with an aquarium, a planetarium (where you can take a virtual space trip), and a museum of microbes. In August, every Saturday afternoon is a Summer Night for children, with special activities, musical performances, and shows at the planetarium.
The Artis Zoo exists since the 1880s in the historic center of Amsterdam. The entrance is next to one of our favorite restaurants—De Plantage.
© Artis Royal Zoo
Children’s Parade | Martin Luther Kingpark
The Parade—Amsterdam’s August open-air festival of performing arts—includes a special children’s program. Every afternoon, there is some show or activity. Kids can take a spin on the merry-go-round, dance at the Silent Disco, bake the traditional Dutch mini-pancake (it is called ‘poffertje’), or try some wood modeling and painting.
We love food, particularly when it is local-grown and/or organic. Amsterdam’s diverse cuisines and laid-back atmosphere are an invitation to indulge all year round. But in August, terraces and rooftops make it simply impossible to resist. Here is a non-exhaustive list of our favorite summer hangouts in Amsterdam, by neighborhoods. We called out the ice cream parlors separately—we felt they deserve special attention this time of the year.
Amsterdam North is a former industrial neighborhood in the middle of gentrification. This little gem is nestled amongst the industrial buildings on the waterfronts of the river IJ. It offers an air of class with its stripped back interiors and exposed beams—a nod to the past of this area. The seasonal menu adds a somewhat French touch. De Goudfazant is the mother of warehouse dining trend. An absolute must for your Amsterdam Noord explorations.
The success of de Goudfazant encouraged the same team to open a second restaurant. Café Modern is located in a former banking building, decorated in a smart mix of old and new. The menu changes daily. They keep their ingredients seasonal—everything is fresh and organic. A great dinner place if you are looking for something outside of the old city center, trendy yet classy. And for those picky eaters, the chef is very accommodating.
Great fish and seafood, and a terrace on the northern bank of the IJ—that is what we like about Stork. It also has a good choice of meat and vegetarian dishes.
This large café-restaurant with a terrace sits in the middle of Amsterdam’s beloved Vondelpark, near the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum. It occupies a historic 19th century building in the neo-Renaissance style. Before, it housed the Film museum. Now, in addition to the restaurant, it is also a venue for media and cultural events.https://www.vondelpark3.nl/en/
tHuis aan de Amstel
Outside of the usual tourist routes—but still just a quick bike ride away from the old center—, tHuis aan de Amstel is a homey place overlooking the river Amstel. It was built in the early 1900s as part of the gasworks Zuidergasfabriek, which doesn’t exist anymore. The café used to be the director’s office. Today, it is a friendly spot with an artistic vibe, a great view of the river, and a generous menu.https://thuisaandeamstel.nl/home
- Massimo Gelato
A real Italian gelateria in the casually hip neighborhood De Pijp. Vegan options available. It is around the corner from the beautiful small Sarphatipark. And in our humble opinion, few things can beat a relaxed stroll through the park with an overloaded, dripping, gorgeous ice-cream.
Ice-cream, cakes, and macaroons. Shall we say more?
The original shop is at the Albert Cuyp market. It has been so successful over the past couple of years that it has grown into a small chain, with several parlors in Amsterdam.
Nemo Summer Roof
Visiting the Nemo Science museum is great idea in itself, especially with children. But the free-access summer rooftop makes it even better. You can enjoy a drink or a meal with a fabulous view of the entire Amsterdam.
Nemo is located immediately to the East of the Amsterdam Central Station, and you can see both the IJ with the islands and the historic city center. For the little ones, there is a water play area where they can learn all about solar power. Throw in live music every Thursday, and you’ve got a perfect summer hangout for the entire family.
Café restaurant Park
Another favorite terrace of ours, the lounge-bistro-restaurant of Hotel Arena with a view of the Oosterpark. You can book a table on the terrace.
Close to Oosterpark, ice-cream and milkshakes from one of the best Dutch ice companies. Conveniently, it is also based in Amsterdam, though in a different neighborhood—the Jordaan. It can’t get more local than this!
Wine Bar at Westerwijnfabriek
Wine lovers will enjoy this little oasis in the middle of a former factory-turned-cultural-hotspot in Westerpark. It offers a large variety of wines by the glass from around the world. The wines come with a selection of finger food. This summer, the focus is on wines from South America and Venezuelan street food.
Quirky interiors, a large terrace overlooking the IJ, and a small but inventive menu with fresh seasonal ingredients—Meneer Nieges (‘Mister Nieges’) ticks all the boxes. Fun fact: the name comes from the local expression ‘Dat geeft nieges’ — ‘This is doomed.’ Several restaurants had tried and failed to establish themselves in this building before the current team came along. They have been around since a few years: hopefully, the dark spell is broken. We are knocking on wood—we love this terrace with a tangible Southern vibe.
This casual and cozy restaurant occupies a repurposed old ferry that used to transport people across the river IJ. It had served since 1927 and barely escaped demolition in 2005. It is worth a visit for the location itself as much as for the superb seasonal menu. Meat and fish are prepared on a charcoal grill.https://www.pont13.nl/en/
Another great spot from the team of Pont 13. This one has an even more unorthodox story. It used to be the broadcast platform of a pirate TV station. Now it is a top-notch restaurant with a spectacular view. It has both a regular bar and a rooftop terrace. The food is great, and the setting, truly unique.https://www.remeiland.com/en/home-english/
- Juice Brothers x Van Leeuwen
Close to Westerpark, a place to indulge into a delicious vegan shake, ice-creams, or juice. The flavors range from traditional (cookie dough, peanut butter, chocolate, stracciatella) to less conventional (turmeric, ‘After Eight’).
- La La IJs
Fresh, organic, with many vegan-friendly options in both classic and innovative tastes, La La IJs is a highlight of the trendy indoor food court Foodhallen (which you might want to visit anyway). Foodhallen is part of De Hallen, a former tramway depot turned into a cultural complex. It also houses an arthouse cinema and many creative shops.
We’ll be honest, we try to stay out of the touristic center as much as possible. When we design our tours, we want to show our guests the real Amsterdam—the one that we know and love since our childhood. But we are ready to make an exception for these amazing ice-cream spots. Hey, not just ready—eager.
Haarlemmerdijk and Haarlemmerstraat form a lively shopping street in the Western part of the old center, on the edge of the Jordaan neighborhood. We stop at Jordino for ice-cream in summer. The rest of the year, we go for pies or chocolate, which is simply a work of art.
Another authentic Italian gelateria just off the lively Nieuwmarkt. The founders were friends with Hanneke’s parents, as an old photograph on the wall attests. We promise, we are not on commission. It is probably just that the love for this ice-cream runs in the family.
Do you have any personal favorites in Amsterdam that we didn’t mention? We would love to hear about them in the comments! And if you try anything from our list, we would be thrilled to know about your experience.