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Guide to the Amsterdam Light Festival

The canal parade and light festival have joined forces, creating a spectacular 50-day event that turns Amsterdam into the capital of light. This guide showcases the history of the event, the event itself and what to look out for at this year's light show

City Guide
Emily Scrivener,

The Amsterdam Light Festival is back! After last year’s inaugural light show spectacular, the second festival promises to be just as vibrant and creative.

The history:

The first canal parade took place on Christmas Eve, 2009. A year later, Felix Guttmann decided to build on this concept and incorporate light – to literally light up Amsterdam and also illuminate the city’s cultural heritage. Guttmann invited internationally famous light designers Rogier van der Heiden and Wim Dröge to help bring his creation to life, and the first Amsterdam Light Festival was held in 2012.

The festival:

The festival runs from December 6 2013 to January 19 2014 and Amsterdam will be, once again, transformed into the capital of light. The festival will exhibit a series of spectacular light and laser installations by leading Dutch and international light artists and producers, around the theme Building with Light.

Strategically placed light sculptures and installations will illuminate the city’s streets and canals, a brilliant, unique décor for the Christmas season. The festival itself will have four components, ensuring visitors enjoy a unique experience of the capital.

Water-Colors, the boat ride:

The boat ride allows you to experience the festival in a whole new way, the light’s reflections on the water creating a show in itself. The boat takes you on a special route, designed to allow visitors to see the projections and installations from the water, making this is a truly amazing way to see the light festival.

Illuminade, the walking route:

This route will take you through the streets of Amsterdam and presents both new and established artists and their creations in the city’s public spaces. Works include projections on historical buildings and installations on the street and in parks.


There are several beautiful concerts in specially selected locations across Amsterdam during the light festival. Visit the website for more details on who is playing.


There are various exclusive programmes taking place in different locations around the capital, with many museums and galleries taking part. More will be revealed nearer the time, so check the website for regular updates.



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