When to go to Amsterdam

If you are used to the British climate, you’ll feel at home in Amsterdam. The local climate is mild and damp, although there are spells when the city enjoys a more Continental climate, such as that experienced in Germany. This can produce warm, sunny spells in summer or cold, bright days in winter.

Amsterdam’s weather is very changeable. Even in the heat of summer, it’s worth having something warm to wear. The most changeable times of year in Amsterdam are Spring and Autumn when pretty well anything can happen!

As you’d expect, the coldest weather is from December to March when the weather can be clear and frosty although snow is unlikely. In really cold spells, don’t be surprised to see the Dutch putting their skates on and taking to well-known stretches of canal although such sights have been unusual in recent years. The best advice is to carry rainwear and umbrellas at all times.

The seasons of Amsterdam

On holidays in Amsterdam expect a typical north European climate with warm, temperate summers and miserable wet winters. Whatever the weather, little alters Amsterdam city life.

Cosy cafes light up in the winter and tables tumble out on the street to catch the summer sunshine. Spring and autumn can be glorious as sunshine streams through the trees although the canal can be shrouded in mist.

High summer brings out the best on holidays in Amsterdam with trees in full leaf, flowers in bloom and a wide range of outdoor events. Summer is also the time when Amsterdam is packed with tourists, accommodation is at a premium and queues lengthen outside the main attractions.

Amsterdam seasonal events

January: Depending on the levels of ice, the Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Journey) ice-skating marathon takes place on Friesland’s frozen rivers with a start and finish at Leeuwarden. It’s certainly worth getting cold for.

February: Chinese New Year brings out Amsterdam’s dragons and fireworks. The exact date depends on the lunar calendar.

April: The second weekend has free entry to many museums on National Museum Weekend. The Queen’s Day on April 30 is a hugely popular date with street events, club nights and parties. Queen’s Night on April 29 is the night to party.

May: The Amsterdam holiday season kicks off with the free Oosterparkfestival in early May, with live music and street stalls. A modern art fair KunstRAI is held at the RAI conference centre in the first week and many windmills open to the public for National Windmill Day on the second Saturday.

June: Holland Festival has music, dance and drama over the month and the third week sees the Amsterdam Roots Festival, seven days of music and film with a free concert in Oosterpark and performances from the Concertgebouw, Mekweg and Tropentheatre. Also, in late June there is the International Theatre School Festival.

July: Holidays in Amsterdam get into full swing with free theatre, dance and music at Vondelpark Open Air Theatre over the summer. Modern theatre and dance is showcased at the Over Het IJ Festival at the NDSM wharf in the first half of the month while, from the second week, there is the Kwakoe Festival near Amsterdam Arena. Beach parties and live music feature at the Beachhop Festival on the last Sundays in June, July and August.

August: Amsterdam Pride triggers street parties and a parade on the first Saturday. The weekend also has an international modern dance festival, Dance Valley, north of Haarlem. Theatre features with a travelling fair, The Parade, in Martin Luther King Park over the first two weeks.

In late August get ready for the Gratchenfestival of classical music, where virtually every culture group in the city turns out to the Ultmarkt on the Museumplein over the last few days of the month.

September: Late holidays in Amsterdam get a boost with the Bloemencorso flower pageant, followed by the Chinatown Festival on the second weekend and the Jordaan Festival after that. The latter features a huge fair and scores of street parties.

November: St Nicolaas Parade has Santa setting off from Centraal Station on a white horse handing out sweets. The Cannabis Cup is launched at the end of the month for a five day festival.

December: Dance Valley is back with a winter party of international DJs near Eindhoven. New Year’s Eve has street fireworks and celebrations.