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Amsterdam Light Festival 2016-2017

Amsterdam doesn’t do Christmas well. But it does have the annual Amsterdam Light Festival — a fantastic winter event that combines light, art and — of course — water.

Boat Route: December 1, 2016 — January 22, 2017.
Walking Route: December 1, 2016 — January 15, 2017

Now in its fifth year, the Amsterdam Light Festival has quickly become a very popular attraction. Last winter it drew 850.000 visitors — 100.000 more than in the year before.

Advance ticket sales promise another record for the 2016-2017 version.

Amsterdam Light Festival 2015-2016 Aftermovie

Amsterdam Light Festival Tickets

Artists, architects and light designers from around the world create fantastic installations alongside two different routes.

Water Colors is the hugely popular boat route, while Illuminade is the walking route.

All art installations can be seen free of charge, but the Water Colors route is best seen from a tour boat.

So while you do not have to pay anything to see the works of art, you’ll need a ticket if you want to see the Water Colors route the way it was meant to be viewed: from the water.

Water Colors – the Boat Route

Water Colors has big monumental displays that, say the event organizers, are ‘best seen from the water.’

Actually, you can walk or bike the route as well — stopping at various cafes and pubs along the way, perhaps. But we ourselves make sure we enjoy the installations from the comfort of a tour boat. [Here’s what Amsterdam’s weather is like in December and January]

It is not for nothing that a tour through the 17th century canals is Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attraction.

  • Dates and Times: December 1, 2016 — January 22, 2017. 17:00 – 23:00 (5 pm – 11 pm)
  • Theme: A view of Amsterdam — The city serves as a canvas for installations that are connected to specific characteristics of the city — as interpreted by the artists.
  • Route: The length of this route depends on the canal boat company you select. The route itself would take about 75 minutes to complete, but many companies also include (portions of) their regular tour through the canals.
  • How much: Free, if you go on foot or by bike. Varying fees if you go by tour boat.

Illuminade — the Walking Route

Illuminade, the walking route, shows interactive and innovative installations from upcoming designers. This route is in the Plantage neighborhood, in the center of Amsterdam.

You can walk this route yourself, or join the Amsterdam Winter Wonders Walking Tour which includes other city highlights as well.

  • Dates and Times: December 15, 2016 — January 15, 2017. 17:00 – 22:00 (5 pm – 10 pm)
  • Theme: Biomimicry — the science where the logic and structures of nature are applied to solve human problems. [Footnote: The organization explains, “Think of energy efficient buildings inspired by termite mounds or antibacterial surfaces inspired by red seaweed.” Or “Think of a high-speed train with a nose in the shape of a kingfisher that prevents sound barriers in tunnels – kingfishers do not cause wrinkles when they dive in water.”
  • Route: The walking route is 2.3 km (14.3 mi) and takes about 90 minutes to complete.
  • How much: Free if you walk the route by yourself. Varying fees if you join a walking tour.
Amsterdam Light Festival Map

Water Colors – boat route (Magenta) and Illuminade — walking route (Yellow). Orange markers denote shared route.

Amsterdam Light Festival Tickets

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This post was last updated: Nov. 30, 2016