Amsterdam is practically bursting at the seams with festivals over the summer season. Comedytrain, Vondelpark Open Air Theatre, Milkshake Festival, Gay Pride and Kwaku Summer Festival are just a few of the cultural ponds into which you can dip your toes.
It’s not unusual to catch scenes of revelry in the city’s parks, beaches and squares throughout the summer as Amsterdam is more than open to using its public spaces for lively events.
Uitmarkt – Holland’s biggest cultural celebration
Uitmarkt is a huge festival of the arts that takes place every year over the last weekend of August. This year it’s being held from the 28th – 30th of August. Summer days may be coming to an end but this festival ushers in the start of the Dutch Cultural Season with all the energy of a hot burning sun.
Whilst Museum Square and Leidse Square generally act as the main cultural centre of the festival, many performances and installations find their homes in other venues across the city – from theatres to museums to parks – meaning that the whole city is buzzing.
The festival boasts a line-up of over four hundred performances including around two thousand performers, with orchestras, theatre companies, comedians and artists providing eager audiences with a taste of what’s to come over the course of the ensuing cultural season.
‘Diversity’ is the name of the game at Uitmarkt. You’ll find a whole host of performers from every corner of the arts world – literary recitals, cabaret, hip-hop, theatre and classical music all have a place at this festival. New, emerging and established talent is welcome so you might just end up catching the next big thing.
Other Dutch cities have followed Amsterdam’s lead. Rotterdam and Haags both have a similar celebration the following weekend, so if you want to continue the festivities after Amsterdam’s Uitmarkt is over then head on over to either city!
Book Worms Rejoice!
If you feel like taking a break from the main proceedings then there’s also the ‘Manuscripta’ book market that runs throughout the festival. Here you can indulge your inner book worm, winding your way through hundreds of books in nearly every genre imaginable.
Of course, no festival is complete without a good selection of food and drink stalls. To experience Uitmarkt properly, grab a beer and some food and wander around the streets soaking in the electric atmosphere of the festival.
What you need to know
Uitmarkt has been going out with a bang every year since 2006. The closing act is a musical sing-a-long where various artists from the festival sing hits from the current and imminent theatre season, accompanied by the Metropole Orchestra.
The audience is encouraged to join in without inhibition and the whole thing is broadcast live on television. So, if you find yourself in the crowd, it could just be your five minutes of stardom!
The festival has been running since 1977, making 2015 its 38th year. It attracts around half a million visitors each year and, thanks to the generosity of the artists and organisations who volunteer their time, the event remains completely free. If that doesn’t sound like a winning celebration, we don’t know what does!
Where: Main stages in Museum Square and Leidse Square. Visit the Uitmarkt website for more information about the festival and its other locations