Amsterdam in autumn | 2019 essentials

autumn along Prinsengracht

Planning a trip to Amsterdam in autumn 2019?
You will want to put these events on your bucket list

Visiting Amsterdam in autumn? It may sound like not the best time of year, with chances of  stormy weather and chilly days. However, we’re ready to convince you with some great advantages! What do you think of beautiful colors during your strolls, fewer crowds, and loads of fascinating exhibitions?

As Amsterdam is one of the greenest cities, you’ll find autumn colors all around. With less tourist crowds, you will sense more of the vibe of the locals – you may even feel like a temporary local during your stay! Besides that, there’s plenty to see, do, eat and drink indoors. This autumn to-do list contains both indoor and outdoor tips.

In this blog:
Art & culture
Events & activities
Family-friendly Amsterdam
Food & drinks
Map

Amsterdam in autumn: Art & culture

Whole season | Amsterdam, City of Diamonds | Jewish Cultural Quarter
This year, it’s 125 years ago that the first labor union of the Netherlands was founded: the ANDB, Algemene Nederlandse Diamantwerkers Bond or Dutch Diamond workers Union. To celebrate this milestone in the history of the welfare state, several exhibitions and activities take place. The main exhibition is ‘Heyday and decline: 300 years of Amsterdam’s diamond industry’, which you find at the Jewish Historical Museum

Among the activities you find our Diamond history tour. For this tour, Eva dove in her own family history just like she did for our ‘general’ Jewish history tour. During the Diamond history tour, you meet 6 family members: full cousins of each other who all worked in diamonds in the second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th century. Each one of them has his or her own story. Together, these stories reflect several facets of the lives of diamond workers in this important period of time. 

Sunday 20 and 27 October the Diamond history tour by Eva is scheduled for Dutch speakers, starting at the Jewish historical museum. Of course the tour can also be booked privately and in English – it’s always our pleasure to share this sparkling part of history with you!
Diamond workers in a diamond factory

Whole season | The great Suriname exhibition | De Nieuwe Kerk
One of Amsterdam’s most prosperous periods was the Golden Age. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) and West Indian Company (WIC) sailed off for many discovering journeys to find new lands and trades. The connection between Amsterdam and Suriname goes back to these days in the 17th century. Coffee, sugar and cotton were produced on plantations in Suriname. Products which secured the Dutch people in charge of good incomes and wealth – a true golden age indeed. The other side of the medal, however, was suppression and slavery. 

Since a few years it’s more and more being realized that that side of the medal should be more visible too. Museums like Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam museum, and Tropenmuseum have adjusted the descriptions of paintings and artifacts. The stories are no longer just golden but narrated from the other perspective as well. The municipality of Amsterdam started a valuable project, Shared history, which we ourselves completely underscribe.

At ‘The Great Suriname Exhibition’ the cons of the flourishing ‘Golden Age’ are displayed as part of a bigger story about one of the most diverse countries of South America. The exhibition is held at De Nieuwe Kerk, until the 2nd of February 2020. More than three hundred objects have been loaned for this exhibition from museums such as the Museum of Suriname in Paramaribo and the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam.

Whole season | Along the Suriname canals | Museum van Loon
Museum van Loon is one of the museums along the Amsterdam canals. This autumn they’ll take you from the waters of Amsterdam to the waters of Suriname with the exhibition ‘Along the Suriname canals’. The museum is named after the Van Loon family, the last residents of the house and founders of the museum. From the 17th century, the family was involved in commerce and city governance, like other leading families in the Golden Age. Willem van Loon was a founding member of the VOC, the Dutch East India Company. Several other family members took leading positions in both VOC and WIC.

The descendants of the family, now involved in the museum, join the change in narrative. They will tell the shared history through the stories of eight historical figures – from enslaved workers in Suriname to wealthy consumers in Amsterdam. These eight individuals  are connected by history, and together they tell the story of unequal circumstances.
                        De Nieuwe Kerk with the Great Suriname exhibition              Coat of arms of the Van Loon family

Whole season | Rembrandt – Velázasquez | Rijksmuseum
The best of two world-class museums. The cream of European art. For the first time ever, the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) and the Prado (Madrid) display their masterpieces together.
In the Golden Age – in the days of Rembrandt and Velázquez – European “nations” were but a vague idea. And artists made very little of political borders.
European painters had a lot in common. They received similar education. They shared many artistic and philosophical references. They marveled at exciting scientific discoveries. And they knew each other’s work fairly well.
As a result, the Golden Age was the time of an intense artistic dialog all across Europe. This exhibition brings this dialog back to life through a selection of exceptional paintings.

It is a unique opportunity to see side by side the works of the greatest Dutch and Spanish masters. Rembrandt van Rijn, Diego Velázquez, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals, Bartolomé Murillo, Francisco Zurbarán are the glory of the Golden Age.
Most paintings come from the Rijksmuseum’s and the Prado’s outstanding collections. Others are lent by international museums, including the London National Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of New-York, and the Hermitage of Saint-Petersburg.

By the way, if you wish to dive even deeper into the topic, we’ll be happy to guide you through this exhibition, either on its own or additional to our general Rijksmuseum private guided tour. Our lovely guide Irina will give a few semi-private tours through the exhibition throughout the season. For details and tickets, please have a look here.

Whole season | What a genderful world | Tropenmuseum
Gender is a hot topic: gender neutral toilets, announcements, clothes. Did you know that what we see as masculine or feminine is largely culturally determined? ‘What a genderful world’ has a colorful, festival-like setting in which you discover how gender is expressed and experienced worldwide.

The Tropenmuseum – or Tropical Museum or anthropological museum – once started under the name ‘Colonial Institute of the Tropical countries’. Besides ‘What a genderful world’ there are more exhibitions worth visiting. Actually, it’s one of our favorite museums for both the content and the building itself!

Whole season | Fashion on a ration | Resistance museum
Today, re-use of clothes and fabric is a trend among designers and consumers. The reason is a growing awareness that we waste too much. During World War II, there was a same trend but for a different reason: shortages. ‘Fashion on a Ration’ shows how fashion changed during the occupation and the creative solutions people came up with to compensate for fabric shortages.

Besides this temporary exhibition, the Resistance museum is worth a visit in general to learn all about World War II from a resistance perspective.

24 October, 28 November | Candle light concerts | Portuguese synagogue
A few times a year, the Portuguese synagogue is the setting for an amazing experience. The building – from 1675 (!) – is already impressive on its own. Up till today there is no electricity. During the shorter days of the year hundreds of candles light the place during celebrations and candle light concerts. One advise: besides warm clothes, you might want to bring a cushion and/ or little blanket to stay warm during the concert..!

24 October, violonist Noa Wildschut will perform. Despite her age (18) she has already gained a significant reputation in the Netherlands and abroad. Pianist Daniël Kramer will accompany her for this concert.

28 November, the floor is for Lumaka. This Dutch chamber music ensemble uses a surprising combination of instruments: harp, flute and strings. The program consists of Late Romantic and Impressionist music, some of which written by Jewish Dutch composers.
Candle light concert taking place in the Portuguese synagoge in Amsterdam

2 November | Museum night | various locations
Traditionally, the first Saturday of November is museum night in Amsterdam. Dozens of museums, including Artis the zoo, keep their doors open till late. And that’s not only for a standard visit: they all have a special night program. Think live music next to the Nightwatch, or get wed under a chupah for the night. Get to see museum pieces which usually are not on display, join an art workshop – there’s so much to choose from it may be hard to decide. Check the website beforehand and make sure you get a ticket, as the night tends to sell out.

21-24 November | Amsterdam art weekend | various locations
This annual art weekend is all about upcoming contemporary artists. Several major art institutions are involved, as well as many – bigger and smaller – galleries. Get inspired by (and maybe even get your hands on works of) talented artists fresh in the scene.

Amsterdam in autumn: Events & activities

30 Oct – 3 Nov | International story telling festival | several locations
Some of the best Dutch and international story tellers come together for this festival. This years’ theme is ‘addiction’ – to alcohol, love, cell phones or anything else. Performances take place at Podium Mozaïek, the Public library, story telling walhalla Mezrab, Meervaart theatre and more locations. Check their website for a detailed programme.

13-17 November | Kaboom animation festival | Westergasterrein
Kaboom is a wide range animation film festival. Think fun, art, awe and wonder for all ages. There are shows tackling sensitive social issues, there’s plain entertainment, and everything in between. The terrain where the festival is being held is worth a visit in general as well: there are plenty options for lunch, wine, beers and dinner before or after the movies!

13-24 November | Dancing on the edge | Frascati
Shared history is an important theme – not only in (our) tours and in history exhibitions, but also in art and performances.
Dancing on the Edge is a festival about different borders, bodies, histories and (pre)conceptions. It attempts to challenge singular narratives and identities in representation as well as in dominant power structures and (post)colonial relations.

20 Nov – 1 Dec | IDFA documentary festival | various locations
Where to start with this one? The International Documentary Festival Amsterdam is one of the most renowned film festivals of the world. Hundreds of documentaries are being shown, all completely different yet all so fascinating. We ourselves always find it hard to make choices with so many engaging stories. Even though it might be hard to decide, it’s definitely worth going through the program and go see at least one documentary!

Whole season – beach walk – Zandvoort
Whether it’s a fresh sunny day, a stormy day or any other day: beach walks are always great! Go to Centraal station and take a train to Zandvoort aan Zee. They depart once every 30 minutes; the ride takes 30 minutes as well. From the station it’s just a few minutes walk to reach the beach. We Dutch love ‘blowing out’ – which doesn’t really translate, but it would be in the range of ‘catching a breath of fresh air’. After a good walk, you can sit down at one of the beach cafes for hot chocolate with apple pie or anything else you fancy to eat or drink.

Amsterdam in autumn: Family-friendly Amsterdam

Are you planning a city trip to Amsterdam with your family in autumn? Nice idea! We loved growing up here, and we believe our own children are enjoying it quite a bit too by now. Here are some of our favorites for the families.
 Artis
Amsterdam’s zoo, Artis, dates back to the 1830’s. By now, it’s a beautiful park where the animals have a relatively large space, as close to their natural habitat as possible. The zoo is involved in breeding programmes for endangered species. There are several playgrounds, cafe restaurants and lots to discover from the animal realm, from elephants to microbes and all sizes in between.

Maritime museum
The maritime museum is a nice combination of indoor and outdoor activity – very suitable on an autumn day. The museum is housed in a 17th century naval storehouse. The collection consists of scale models, old navy maps and weapons, historical paintings and more. Most fun of the visit is discovering the ‘Amsterdam’, an 18th century VOC ship – or, well, a replica as the original one sank during its first journey..

– Amsterdamse bos, goat farm and pancake farm
The Amsterdamse bos – Amsterdam forest – is a forest on the south west side of the city. There are several routes for shorter or longer strolls to simply enjoy the autumn colors.  You might even enjoy some climbing at Fun Forest, with rope bridges and zip lines between the trees.
Drop by at the goat farm Ridammer Hoeve, an organic farm where you can meet with the goats and other animals, and get delicious local goat milk, cheese and more!
And then another of our all time favorites – how Dutch can it get?! After a proper autumn walk, you definitely deserve a great pancake. Pancake farm Meerzicht (‘Lake view’) is the place to be!
Aerial view of pancake farm Meerzicht

Amsterdam in autumn: Food & drinks

Food and drinks are always important and we do have our year round favorites. However, some are especially nice to mention for the autumn days.

– Bazar
Both setting and food are wonderful at Bazar. You find this restaurant in the heart of the Pijp district, situated in a former church. The menu – as well as the atmosphere – is Middle Eastern / North African. Take some time to explore the neighborhood before or after your meal. Bazar is right in the middle of the famous Albert Cuyp street market. The Pijp is the ‘Bohemian’ district, with picturesque streets, art galleries, vintage shops, a park and cafes. Great to spend a few autumn hours switching between outdoors and indoors!

– cafe restaurant Park
This place has got a great vibe. Remains of the historical building (a 19th century orphanage for Catholic girls) are combined with a mix of industrial and natural materials. As you may guess from its’ name, Park is – indeed – located right on the edge of a park. Thanks to the glass facade, you have an incredible view over the Oosterpark. There’s a lounge area, bistro area and restaurant area. 

– Kompaszaal
Again a historical building: this used to be the arrival and departure area of the KNSM, the Dutch steam ship company. The company focused mainly on freight.  While enjoying the river view from the restaurant or terrace, you can only imagine how the island where it’s  located, used to be all harbor industry. It’s nice to stroll around the island as well, for the waterfront views as well as the architecture, of which many details refer to the shipping history of the area. 

– Mama Makan Indonesian kitchen
We sometimes get the question ‘what’s typical Dutch food?’ As we have people from all over the world living in Amsterdam, we also have food from all over the world – lucky us! We mentioned earlier in this blog that we are very aware of the down sides of colonization. But we can’t deny our love for Indonesian food and are happy to have it around..! Like at Mama Makan, connected to the Hyatt Regency hotel, where both food and service are great. 

– Foodhallen
Another neighborhood to combine outdoors with indoors. The food stalls are part of a bigger complex in a former tram garage, which transformed into a sustainable, creative hub. There are some nice shops with ‘good stories’ – you might even find your perfect Amsterdam souvenir here! Next to the Hallen there’s an enjoyable street market as well. If you love to get lost in picturesque little streets, take a stroll through the Bellamy neighborhood before sitting down at the Foodhallen. And you could even end your day next door to the Foodhallen, at the Filmhallen for an art house movie. 

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