Amsterdam, like any other major tourist city, has tons of entertainment. It is not only one of Europe’s leading cultural centres – with a world renowned orchestra and some impressive theatres – but it’s also one of the continent’s fun party cities.
It’s a city for taking a romantic stroll or staggering from one quirky bar to another. There’s live music and dancing in many of the cafes and bars, and the city parks often host top live entertainment events.
There is a very lively Amsterdam music scene – from classical to rock. The Amsterdam Concertgebouw has an international reputation for classical music while opera lovers can head for the Stopera at Waterlooplein, or to the Carr.
Many tourists visit the Museumplein during the day to listen to free concert rehearsals. Amsterdam music bars often host live, late-night jam sessions. The area between Rembrantsplein and Leidseplein has the main Amsterdam music bars and clubs.
The Amsterdam music club scene includes famous venues like Paradiso, and De Melkweg for rock, pop, rap and big name bands. They open at 10 to 11pm but must close by 4am weekdays and 5am at the weekend, with Thursday, Friday and Saturday the top nights out.
The trendier nightclubs have a smart-casual dress code, no trainers or jeans. but it’s a free-for-all at more down-market venues. Bouncers don’t like groups of more than four and if you appear drunk you won’t get in. You must be 16+ to buy beer, and 18+ to buy spirits.
Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal has become one of the current trendy area for bars and clubs. The gay and lesbian scene is mainly found around Reguliersdwarsstraat.
Jazz is very popular in Amsterdam and the city has been home to several of the jazz greats. The most popular and famous Amsterdam clubs are Bourbon Street Jazz and Blues Club in Leidsekruisstraat and the Bimhuis in Oude Schans where the Dutch Jazz Orchestra plays every Wednesday – well worth a visit.
Amsterdam theatre is slick and vibrant, with quality English language performances almost every night. The area around Leidseplein is the theatre quarter and venues are close together, making it easy to browse the box offices.
The recently revamped Stadsschouwburg at Eidenhoven is the city’s best-known theatre but there are at least 65 others spread across the city.
The annual August Parade in Martin Luther King Park is the prelude to Amsterdam’s theatre season where actors mingle with the crowds.
There are two world-class ballet companies in the Netherlands. The Dutch National Ballet is based at the Muziektheater whilst the Hague-based Dans Theater regularly performs in Amsterdam. Each July, Leidseplein theatres host Julldans – a month-long dance festival.
Amsterdam has just two places to win a fortune or loose your shirt. The casino at Max Euweplein, near Leidseplein, opens daily 1.30pm to 3am. There is another at Schiphol Airport, in Terminal West that opens 6am to 7.30pm. Casual dress is allowed but you must be over 18, and your passport will be required.
Cinemas are not thick on the ground but they show a wide range of films from Hollywood blockbusters to the latest art house releases. One cinema worth a visit for its awesome decor is the Tuschinski Theater, built in 1921, in fabulous art deco style and with a luxurious foyer.
Amsterdam has great appeal too for stag and hen weekends. For the blokes there’s lots besides the Red Light District – Ajax match tickets and stadium tours, canal boat rides, brewery tours, bar crawls and shooting for a start.
Amsterdam stag weekends are getting increasingly popular. A good choice is ‘The Stag Company’, which provides tailor-made entertainment for stag parties.
Hen weekends are also popular with many nightclubs and lots of funky shops and boutiques to browse. Stags and hens should spend at least one night bar hopping, as Amsterdam boasts more than 1,000 of them across the city.