Home CITY TOUR Amsterdam Light Festival – All tips, tours and information

Amsterdam Light Festival – All tips, tours and information

During the Amsterdam Light Festival, which takes place in December and early January, the canals of Amsterdam are illuminated by the best light artists from Holland and abroad. You can expect breathtaking light sculptures and fantastic illuminated illustrations in the historic city center of Amsterdam. Here are the exact dates for the 2024/2025 Festival of Lights.

You can also find the appropriate boat tours a little further down, but if you want, you can reserve one of the coveted tickets for the departures from Centraal Station or from Oosterdock, which is not far away, the latter also including drinks. There is also a warm blanket and a hot drink for the Amsterdam Light Festival canal cruise in an open boat!

We will continue next winter under the motto : Amsterdam celebrates its 750th birthday!

24 November 2024 to 19 January 2025

It starts from the beginning of dusk at 17:00 until the darkness of night at 22:00. The only exception is New Year’s Eve, when the lights only shine until 20:00. Every year, the city center of Amsterdam is illuminated by dozens of innovative and high-quality light art installations by (inter)national artists during the Amsterdam Festival of Lights.

Since 2012, the festival has produced more than 270 artworks and developed into one of Europe’s most critical light art festivals. After the festival, some works created especially for Amsterdam became part of a permanent collection that traveled worldwide.

My Tip: In the colder months, a tour of lights with snacks and mulled wine. Further suggestions for tours at the Festival of Lights can be found below.

Tickets should be booked well in advance. Popular dates and times are booked up quickly!

What is the Festival of Lights in Amsterdam?

What is the Festival of Lights in Amsterdam?

The annual Amsterdam Light Festival illuminates the city with brilliant light artworks during winter. Every year, hundreds of ideas are submitted by designers, architects, and artists worldwide. A selection committee usually chooses around 20 works of art to form the festival’s installations. In previous years, works by prominent artists such as Ai Weiwei and Nicole Banowetz have been displayed.

The Amsterdam Light Festival takes place in winter, usually from the end of November to the end of January, when the long nights provide an ideal backdrop for the illuminated works of art. In 2023, as already mentioned, the Amsterdam Light Festival will take place from 24 November 2024 to 19 January 2025. The route varies from year to year, but so far the festival has always taken place within the ring of canals, with dazzling performances along the canals in the city centre and around the Amstel.

Winter card for the festival of lights by Tiqets

Winter card for the festival of lights by Tiqets

The Winter Digital Pass is an offer for a unique experience in Amsterdam. Winter fun in Amsterdam’s winter paradise at the Amsterdam RAI, the city’s exhibition and congress center in Amsterdam-Zuid. In the evening, participate in the Festival of Lights and take a boat trip through the illuminated Amsterdam. This combination is a ticket offer that includes even more extras.

All details about this digital pass, including a discount code for further bookings, can be found on the provider’s website. Family fun in winter!

Book Amsterdam Winter Card online

The Winter Paradise is open from 24 November to 19 January 2025. Tickets without a canal cruise for the Light Festival can also be booked here.

📍 How to get to Winter paradise: Europaplein 22, 1078 GZ, Amsterdam, Metro 52, tram line 4 and bus line 62, bus stop Europaplein/RAI, parking on site.

What can you discover at the Amsterdam Light Festival?

What can you discover at the Amsterdam Light Festival?

This year there is a route for the festival of lights with the theme 750 years of Amsterdam in a world full of fantasy. The event will run for the 13th time in 2024 and it’s Celebrate Light again. This year with many of its own creations as well as the highlights of the last ten years. Many different companies offer night tours that last around 75 minutes and start near Amsterdam Centraal station.

✅ The advantage of the boats is that you can see a lot without walking for kilometers or freezing in the cold. However, the glass windows of the boats sometimes make for perfect photos. So, if you want to avoid taking a boat trip, you can also see many of the sculptures on a walk along the canals. Visitors are equally enthusiastic about both routes. It is also possible to book a bike tour (see below).

Tours to the Light Festival

Tours to the Light Festival

Enthusiasm is high, which is why you should book a place on one of the numerous boat tours in advance. Either by purchasing the Winter Card described above, or by choosing from the following offers, each with slightly different durations and departure points. All details can be found on the provider’s website. The tours on offer all follow the Festival of Lights route.

Boat trip to Light FestivalPriceAdmission
Light Festival Boat tour€ 26.00Book Online
Light Festival canal cruise
& audio guide
€ 26.50Book Online
Festival of lights 90-minute tour
with hot cocoa
€ 27.50Book Online

You can also make bookings for the boat tours directly online with other providers below in Practical tips.

If you don’t want to miss out on snacks and free drinks during your cruise, you should opt for an all-inclusive canal cruise and book well in advance.

Large families, groups of friends, clubs, companies or other groups may want to consider a private boat trip to the Festival of Lights. Luxurious, but of course a little more expensive. But still appropriate for the event!

Amsterdam Light Festival – Cruise on a saloon boat
Romantic experience for couples

Tours to the Light Festival

As mentioned above, guided evening bike tours to the highlights of the Festival of Lights are very popular. You can see a lot in a short time. Don’t forget your gloves!

Amsterdam bike tour – 2 hours
Amsterdam Highlights: 3-hour bike tour

The Light Festival with Children

The Amsterdam Light Festival is also a unique experience for children on weekends and during the winter holidays. No other major European city offers so much variety for children, even in the cold season.

The Light Festival with Children

Fun and games in the Nemo Museum in the morning, then ice skating in front of the National Museum and a spectacular boat trip to the Festival of Lights in the evening. In between, warm pannekoekken and delicious fries. If you want to find out more about what you can do with children in Amsterdam, you should read my article Amsterdam with children.

The evening light spectacle starts at dusk, making departures at 18:00 or 19:00 also ideal for children.

The respective discounts for children on boat tours can also be found on the tour providers’ websites.

The history of the Amsterdam Light Festival

The history of the Amsterdam Light Festival

When Vincent Horbach from Amsterdam visited the hugely popular Winterfest in Florida in 2008, he had a brilliant idea: wouldn’t it be great if there was an event like this in Amsterdam? He presented his plan to Henk-Jan Buchel, who, like Horbach himself, worked for a shipping company. Together, they developed the plans, approached other shipping companies, and looked for sponsors.

The city council of Amsterdam also saw the initiative’s potential and supported this new public event, which was intended to boost international tourism during the quiet winter season. With a limited budget and a lot of goodwill from everyone involved, they set to work. The first Christmas Canal Parade sailed through the canals on Christmas Eve 2009 to great public acclaim. A new tradition was born.

Overall impression of the Light Festival

Overall impression of the Light Festival

The great thing about this extraordinary festival is that you can see everything from the boat, which makes the festival of lights twice as much fun. Especially if you let your gaze wander over the reflections in the water. You will see numerous fascinating illuminated works of art, which, as mentioned above, have the motto Celebrate Light.

Another plus point of the festival is that the sculptures are so diverse. Some are huge, some are tiny, some are bright and bold, and others are so subtle that you could easily miss them. Some sculptures are very eye-catching, others are simply amazing (for example, giant colour-changing creatures climbing up a building). There is an information board at each of the exhibits so you can find out who the artist is and what the inspiration behind their design was. If you want to take a closer look at everything, you’ll find plenty of time on a walk, or on the aforementioned cycle tour or this cycle tour.

A winter’s day in Amsterdam

A winter's day in Amsterdam

It’s cold, chilly and windy in Amsterdam. Nevertheless, the canal city is attractive at any time of year and is also an increasingly popular holiday destination at the turn of the year. During the day, you can take a leisurely stroll through the sensational museums and perhaps go ice skating in the fresh air in the afternoon. In the evening, the highlight is a tour of the illuminated canals. There is plenty of time for a pannekoeken and a hot coffee during the day and a typical Dutch Indonesian rice table in the dark evenings, for example in the authentic Kartika.

To make the day perfect, you can book everything in advance. A canal cruise and a special winter experience with the Winter Card described above. Access to one of the many museums on the legendary Museumplein can be conveniently booked online in advance.

Rijksmuseum€ 23.50Book Online
Van Gogh Museum€ 24.00Book Online
Moco Museum€ 21.95Book Online
Stedelijk Museum€ 22.50Book Online

Other experiences include the Diamond Museum or the world of cocktails at the House of Bols. Winter Card holders receive a 10% discount on all museum bookings. When booking, press Book now and then enter the discount code.

There is a sheltered car park nearby. It’s best to book directly here at Mobypark.

Practical tips

Practical tips

Apart from the cost of booked tours and admission to museums, the entire light festival is completely free of charge. The works of light art are of course shown to their best advantage during a stroll through the canals at dusk and after sunset.

✅ Accommodation & Parking – It can get quite crowded at the Festival of Lights. So make sure you organise your accommodation in good time. You can find many recommendations in the accommodation section. Finding a car park in Amsterdam is an adventure. It’s best to book a suitable parking space in advance with Mobypark or Parclick. My suggestion for visiting the Museumplein would be, as mentioned above, the comfortable and sheltered car park at the nearby Marriott Hotel Amsterdam, bookable directly here via Mobypark. You can also find more parking options in my detailed article Parking in Amsterdam.

Buy tickets online – While the Festival of Lights attracts visitors to the streets and canals in the evening, the famous museums do the same during the day. So make sure you buy your tickets in good time, especially for the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. It’s cold in Amsterdam and you spend a lot of time in a good restaurant. The culinary offer is diverse, varied and very different in price. Take a look at The Fork, the discounts are often very worthwhile.

You can also find more information about the Festival of Lights at the organiser’s information stand at the Blauwbrug. This is a bridge over the River Amstel in Amsterdam. It connects the Amstelstraat with the Waterlooplein, where the nearest metro (lines 51/53/54) tram (line 14) and bus station (lines N86, N87) of the same name is also located. Open Tuesday to Sunday during the day from 16:00 to 19:00. Open daily from Christmas to New Year. It is a 20-minute walk from Centraal Station to Blauwbrug. If you need tickets for public transport please click here.

Practical tips

Here are more booking options for the important boat tours for the Festival of Lights:

If you also like the idea of an Ice Bar Experience in winter, you can also book separate tickets for a visit with 3 free drinks here – Xtracold Icebar, or even better the combined ticket with Ice Bar + canal cruise Light Festival.

Each of you will find something suitable for everything!

Is it worth visiting the Amsterdam Festival of Lights?

Is it worth visiting the Amsterdam Festival of Lights?

In any case! In 2024, you can again expect numerous fascinating light art works in Amsterdam’s city centre. Hundreds of artists worldwide have submitted their ideas, and one thing is sure: it will be impressive. All these works can be viewed in different ways. You can marvel at them on foot, bike, or a canal cruise. Whichever way you choose, you certainly won’t regret it.


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