If you’re in Amsterdam over the Christmas period, it’s well worth hanging around for New Year’s eve. The whole city turns into a massive party with fireworks, concerts and events all over the town.
Amsterdam’s compact, easily navigable centre lends itself particularly well to impromptu street parties. Throngs of people from all over the world join in the festivities after roaming out into the night. The Nieuwmarkt square in Chinatown, Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein are all popular gathering points. These places bustle from 9pm with people drinking beer or mulled wine and sampling the Dutch spherical winter speciality, the oliebol. When the moment comes, they wish each other Gelukkig Nieuwjaar.
Amsterdam’s public transportation system stops at around 8pm on New Year’s Eve, with only limited bus services resuming around midnight. If you don’t want to pay for a taxi – which are in short supply – make sure you’re close to your chosen venue by 8pm. You may want to check the GVB (Amsterdam public transit) website to see whether your accommodation is on a limited bus route for the return.
Every year, electronic music fans head for the Awakenings Festival in the cavernous Gashouder venue in the Westerpark. Football fans should make for the newly renamed Johan Cruijff Arena for a ritzy dinner-and-drinks deal far from the madding crowd. Wherever you’re going, consider booking the services of the amazing Amsterdam Disco Taxi (+31(0)6 54 69 8187), replete with monster sound system, karaoke and disco ball.
While Amsterdammers with low-key intentions will retreat to a roof-terrace house party, venues with panoramic views also do the trick. Restaurants and bars such as Moon and Madam in the A’DAM Tower, Canvas at the Volkshotel, Mr Porter at the W Hotel and the Sky Lounge at the Doubletree by Hilton make for a comfortable, if pricey, New Year’s Eve.
The countdown to midnight happens from near the Scheepvaartmuseum (Maritime Museum) on the waterfront, where the official fireworks display take place. At midnight all Hell breaks loose when the fireworks start and everybody in Amsterdam, in fact the entire country, runs outside to let off their own fireworks.
Find yourself a restaurant or bar high up with a view and watch the fireworks in comfort and style. A couple of good, though pricey options are the Sky Lounge bar on the 11th floor of the Hilton Doubletree, Mr Porter Steakhouse at the W Hotel and Madam, on the 20th floor of the A’DAM tower.
Pick your way through the damp red papers left over from last night’s bangers as you walk through Vondelpark or stroll the canals. Eat one final sugar-dusted oliebol or, if you’re really brave, track down the city’s New Year's Day swim. The Dutch are a trading nation, so if you want to consume, many shops are open on New Year’s Day.