Amsterdam’s electronic music scene – already the stuff of legend – ratchets up another gear when festival season kicks in. The world’s greatest DJs duke it out at the likes of Mysteryland and Dekmantel, alongside rising stars from the city’s own clubs and labels. In October, ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) ends the season with a sprawling industry jamboree, with daytime conferences, festival offshoots and epic after-dark partying. If electronic music isn’t your thing, Lowlands has a broader musical remit, while London Calling’s a two-day showcase for hotly-tipped new bands.
Tickets to this cult festival sell out almost instantly – a tribute to its visionary, deliciously unpredictable line-ups. Iconic DJs share the bill with more eclectic finds, from jazz saxophonists to Afro-disco-dub collectives. After two nights in the city, with performances across various venues, the main festival kicks off in the woods for three days of music and mayhem. Best for: Genre-hopping sets | Headline highlights: Jeff Mills, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Roísín Murphy, John Talabot | Dates: 31 July-4 August 2019 | Ticket prices: Day tickets from €61.
This two-day electronic festival is firmly rooted in the city, with line-ups curated by local music-industry insiders. They run from hip producers and promoters to underground-label head honchos, all with impeccable party-animal credentials. Ten stages showcase the artists who’ve made the cut, from Dutch techno legends to up-and-coming afrobeat collectives. Best for: Talent-spotters | Headline highlights: Luigi Madonna, SG Lewis, Paula Tape, Lady Bee | Dates: 1-2 June 2019 | Ticket prices: Day tickets from €64.50.
An hour from Amsterdam Centraal Station, this mellow all-rounder likes to mix things up. Musically, it offers a bit of everything; past years have seen Patti Smith reading poetry, and Stormzy sparking a huge moshpit. Culture’s on the agenda, too, from dance to late-night cabaret. For the full experience, camp (there are various glamping options, if you don’t want to tote a tent). Best for: Culture vultures | Headline highlights: Tame Impala, A$AP Rocky, New Order, The National, Jorja Smith | Dates: 16-18 August 2019 | Ticket prices: €210.
Just outside Amsterdam, this is the most epic of events, with 17 stages dotted across 72 leafy acres. From hardstyle to house, techno to trance, every genre has a place here, while the staging is always extraordinary (think lasers, pyrotechnics, or stages shaped like dragons). When the crowds get too much, head to the woods for secret bars, mini-raves and gently-swaying hammocks. Best for: Epic line-ups | Headline highlights: Martin Garrix, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, Diplo, Claptone, Erick Morillo | Dates: 23-25 August 2019 | Ticket prices: Day ticket from €62.55.
This house and techno festival’s set in Het Twiske, a lake-dotted park just north of the city. (Hop on the shuttle bus, or make like the locals and cycle from Centraal Station). For a one-day event, its line-ups are off the scale, with 50 artists spread across eight tents and stages. Need a break from the main arena madness? Head to the leafy garden stage or lakeside ‘sound healing’ zone. Best for: Back-to-nature vibes | Headline highlights: Sven Väth, Derrick May, Carl Craig, Floorplan, DJ Rush | Dates: 20 July 2019 | Ticket prices: €63.50.
Spoiler: even cool Parisians love a music festival. Join them at this summer’s standouts.
From laidback weekenders to electro-fuelled extravaganzas, there’s a festival for everyone.
Drink, dance, and party like a local around Kolenmarkt.