Travelling to Amsterdam in summer 2015? The days and nights are filled with festivals for food, music, art, dance, theater and films. For tourists it can be a challenge to find 10 things to do in summer in Amsterdam that are not touristy. Before you know it, you’ll be spending your Amsterdam summer vacation in coffee shops and the red light district when you could have made something more special.
To help out tourists, here is a list of things to do in summer 2015 in Amsterdam. You can visit the Tropenmuseum, the art installation rooftop at Oude Kerk, get drunk with the locals at De Parade, fill up at the many culinary festivals, watch a film in open air, rent your own boat, organise a barbeque hassle free, laugh at standup comedy, celebrate multi cultural food and music at Kwaku festival and enjoy classical music on the Amsterdam canals with the Amsterdam Grachtenfestival.
1. Tropenmuseum: sex, desire and taboo in China
The Amsterdam Tropical Museum (Tropenmuseum) lies in the East of Amsterdam. Combine a visit to this great and large museum to the multi culture neighbourhood, the fantastic Dapper market nearby and the Oosterpark. The museum is large and not very busy like the museums in the centre of the city. There is also many special programmes and creative things to do for kids.
Secret Love, Secret Love
This summer, the Tropenmuseum shows Secret Love, Secret Love, a contemporary art exhibition about the taboo surrounding lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender (LGBTs) identities in China.
Sexuality, desire and taboo
The exhibition comprises around 45 works by 10 renowned Chinese artists such as Ma Liuming, Gao Brothers, Li Xiaofeng and Chi Peng. The works explore subjects such as sexuality, desire and taboo.
The exhibition Secret Love emphasizes in particular the artists’ commitment to creating change. With their artworks they contribute to opening up the discussion about sexual diversity.
The Tropenmuseum is the biggest anthropological museum of The Netherlands.
The exhibition Secret Love runs from 2 May until 13 September 2015.
2. Barbeque in Amsterdam
Nothing better than a good barbecue in Amsterdam in summer. If you feel setting up your own one-time-use barbecue at Vondelpark is too much of a hassle, you can just join an organized barbecue. Great with some music and what better way to meet some of the locals while you’re nibbling on a sausage.
Tolhuistuin barbeque on 24 July 2015
The lovely garden of Tolhuistuin organizes a barbecue with music. When you’re done eating, continue dancing inside late into the night.
Roest DIY BBQ
At city Beach and Amsterdam club Roest (with swimming options!), you can order your own DIY BBQ setup and grill your own, just like at home or at the camping.
Call first: 020 – 3080283
3. Rent your own boat in Amsterdam
Prepare a picnic and rent your own little boat to sail through the Amsterdam canals. Expect to pay around 100 euros for a couple of hours in the Amsterdam canals. You can enter the boat with max 6-7 people and share the cost.
Check this article about how and where to rent your own private boat in Amsterdam.
4. Kwaku Festival
Experience a totally different side of Amsterdam at the Kwaku Festival. This festival is held 4 weekends from 18 July to 9 August at Amsterdam’s multicultural neighbourhood Southeast (Nelson Mandelapark).
There is great food (100 food stands!) and music (3 stages!) from all over the world and that special vibe that only Amsterdam’s most colorful inhabitants can bring.
New this year is the Friday Evening Concert, a special musical performance. Entrance is 5 euros, kids up to 13 years are free.
Kwaku by public transport
It’s easy to get to Kwaku Summer Festival by public transport. Go to Station Amsterdam Biilmer (trains and metro 50 and 54, many buses). Walk through the shopping mall De Amsterdamse Poort to the festival (15 minutes walk).
5. Amsterdam Open air films 2015
Every summer in Amsterdam, a different and special locations, films are screened in the open air.
Pluk de Nacht
The most famous and oldest open air cinema in Amsterdam is Pluk de Nacht. The location is along the IJ-waters. Films are free, but popular, so it’s important to come on time to get a seat. You can also order a seat in advance by paying. That way you also help this great little festival. With optional food, drinks and music afterwards .
Pluk de Nacht open air cinema is from 7 – 17 August at ‘t Stenen Hooft (walk westwards from behind Central Station).
Ketelhuis is a small cinema located at the terrain of cultural hotspot Westergasfabriek. In summer, they tend to host some open air films in Amsterdam in 2015.
Rooftop movie nights
Floor 17 is the rooftop terrace of the Ramada Apollo Hotel in Amsterdam, located in the West of Amsterdam (Rembrandtpark). Every summer Floor 17 hosts an open air screening of movies on their rooftop terrace. It is the luxury version of Pluk de Nacht with comfy chairs, heaters and service. Prices are from 12 to 14,50 euros.
Check the their agenda for the films agenda.
World Cinema Amsterdam
World Cinema Amsterdam is a festival that screens more films outdoors each year.
Friday 10 August and Saturday 11 August you can watch 2 open air films in the Amsterdam Vondelpark open air theatre.
From 15 to 18 August 2015, the first weekend of the festival, World Cinema screens 4 new films every night at the Marie Heinekenplein in De Pijp neighbourhood. There are 600 seats available, but this is a popular event so come early or bring your own seat or cushion.
Entrance to the World Cinema Amsterdam open air films are free. Check the website for the film programme.
City beach Pllek
Pllek, the large city beach, club and restaurant at NDSM (Amsterdam North, take the free ferry) hosts open air films every Tuesday night in summer. Films with a view start 15 minutes after sunset on a large screen on the beach. There are fatboys, beach chairs and blankets available.
Films with a view at Pllek are in English or with English subtitles. You can reserve a headphone for 5 euros by sending a email to: email@example.com
6. Comedytrain International Summer Festival 2015
Comedytrain has been Amsterdam’s standup comedy club for the last 20 years. Most of the program is in Dutch, but they have a special program for English speaker.
This summer they have a special International Summer Festival 2015. For 6 weeks, 4 times a week, international comedians hit the stage of Toomler/Comedytrain from Wednesday July 1st until Saturday August 8th.
Tickets are around 17,50.
Check agenda on their website for the Comedytrain International Summer Festival 2015 line-up.
7. Classical music on the Amsterdam canals
From 14 to 23 of August, the Amsterdam canals host a great amount of classical music performances. Yes, the canals. The canals, the island of Pampus, the Vuurtoreneiland (light house tower) at Durgerdam, the Stelling van Amsterdam (17th century defence belt around Amsterdam), the roofs of houses, gardens, roof terraces all become location of classical music concerts during the Grachtenfestival.
Check the website for more information on tickets and locations.
8. Oude Kerk rooftop terrace
The Oude Kerk is Amsterdam’s oldest church and lies in the heart of the city – the red light district. This summer, you can climb up the roof of the church and visit an art installation called The Garden which is nearest to God. The installation is made by the Japanese artist Taturo Atzu.
From the roof you have a wonderful panorama view of the city.
Visit the roof of Oude Kerk
You can visit rooftop art installation of the Oude Kerk from monday to Saturday between 10.00 and 18.00 hours. On Sunday between 13.00 and 17.30 until 6 September 2015.
Entrance is 10 euros.
9. Festivals for Foodies
Amsterdam’s full of culinary festivals where you can taste and buy locally produced goods and new international dishes. Generally the festival is located in a beautiful location and free to enter.
Often, music is provided and the food is accomanied by nice wines and sometimes locally produced beer.
Check out the Kimchie Farm Festival on August 8 at their new location De Ceuvel, the Pure Markt every month at Amstelpark, the Food Truck Festival at Amstelpark from 17 to 19 July and at Westergasfabriek the monthly NeighbourFoodMarket and Sunday market.
Check the Amsterdam Event Calender 2015 for more dates and food festivals in Amsterdam 2015.
10. De Parade Theatre Festival
De Parade might be announced as a Theatre Festival, it’s also the place where the young and old gather, sit around tables and wander around to see, be seen, get drunk and (towards the end of night) hook up.
So if you want to meet up with some Dutch locals, head over to this park along the river Amstel, buy your entrance tickets and buy a bottle of Rose wine to blend in.
Every day there are many theatre, dance, mime and musical performances, each of which so have to buy additional tickets for. The quality of the performance varies greatly. But the entourage and circus tents are great, and so is the ambiance.
De Parade is every day from 7 August to 23 August at the Martin Luther Kingpark. It’s best reached by bike, like the Amsterdam do.
If you have no bike, travel to the Amstelstation (train, tram, metro) and walk 15 minutes. From Central Station, take tram 4 and get out at Victorieplein, walk for 10 minutes.