Ice skating at the monumental Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam

Coolste-baan-van-Nederland

Just for one month, February 2014, and for the first time ever, it will be possible to go ice skating at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam. There will be a 400 meter track and several smaller tracks. A unique opportunity for professionals and starters to hit the ice at this historic location. The monumental stadium was originally build for the Olympics in 1928.

There will be several events, from DJ’s to Family hours, and time slots dedicated to professional scaters, so get informed before you select a time slot.
You can check the Web Cam to get the feeling of the Stadium.

From 28 February to 2 March, the Dutch All Round and Sprint Championships will be held at the stadium.

Tickets can be  bought online. (Several days and time slots are already sold out.)

4 time slots per day:
09.00 – 11.30
12.30 – 15.00
16.00 – 18.30
19.30 – 22.00

Entrance: Kids € 7,60  Adults € 10,-
Skate rental: € 6,-

light my ride – tonight in Amsterdam

Light my ride

Tonight at 19:30 the Light my ride tour will take place, as part of the Amsterdam Light Festival, starting at the Nieuwmarkt.
It’s a 10 km tour for skaters, bikers and skateboarders that have in some way used lights to illuminate themselves and their meaning of transport. The tour will follow the Amsterdam Light Festival route. This video shows all you want to know. You can still sign up here!

Start: 19:30h – 9th of January 2014
Nieuwmarkt, Amsterdam, 19:30h
Admission: Free (if you don’t have skates, a skateboard or a bike, you can rent a Yellow Bike on the spot)

New Year’s Eve parties, where to go?

AMSTERDAM-VUURWERK-OPRUIMEN

At New Year’s Eve many people party outdoors, but Amsterdam has it great fame for parties and events: here is the complete list, and this one might do as well. Prepare well, because many of the events may be sold out. Don’t know where to go? Then there is always Chinatown (Nieuwmarkt area). Have fun and stay safe. Wanne read some other relevant tips & ideas for New Year’s Eve? Read here. Happy New Year!

authentic local Christmas market in Amsterdam 22-12-2013

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREThis is not just another tourist trap. No, this is an authentic, local Christmas market in a beautiful church, just outside the city center of Amsterdam. It’s a ‘Fair’ Christmas Market, because all participants are charities and local voluntary organisations.
Besides the market there are all kind of activities that you can join, like:
– a sing a long choir
– a small Christmas cribs exhibition
– story telling
– activities for the children
and much more.
And to make the Christmas Market feeling complete you can enjoy some nice hot coffee, Glühwein, Dutch pea soup called ‘snert’ and some delicious snacks.

The location of the church is worth a visit in itself. A courtyard with the church in the middle, which is very rare in Amsterdam. And if you don’t know it (or read a blog post about it), you will not find this hidden gem.

Sunday December 22th, 12.00 – 17.00 hours
Admission: Free
Address: Hofkerk, Linnaeushof 94, Amsterdam
How to get there: Tram 9 (less than 10 minutes from Dam Square).
Get out at tram stop ‘Hogeweg’, from there it’s a 200 meter walk to the church.

While you are in the neighbourhood, you might just as well want to visit the Pure Markt, that has its Christmas version of the monthly farmers market, at Frankendael Park – just a few hundred meters from the Hofkerk church.

Zwarte Piet needs a makeover

black-pete-netherlands-racism-afp-261013_350_402_100Sinterklaas arrived in Amsterdam this week, with his hundreds of Zwarte Pieten (his helpers, all named Black Pete) like he traditionally does every year in mid November. He has been doing so for at least 75 years now, but it might have been the last time the festivities looked like they did all these years. Something is about to change, not so much about Sinterklaas himself, as well as about the Zwarte Pieten.

The Zwarte Pieten traditionally wear pageboy uniforms, black make-up with large painted on red lips, curly wigs and golden earrings. Protesters say the Zwarte Pieten are racist caricatures and should be banned. They do have a point here. The tradition’s defenders say there is no racial insult intended by the way Zwarte Piet looks. That is true of course, but it doesn’t change the racist impression it makes. This debate has gone on for years, but it is now intensifying because anti-Zwarte Piet activists have tried to stop the traditional annual festivities in Amsterdam around the arrival of Sinterklaas, because of the racism aspect. And even the UN jumped in with a panel that will examin whether the tradition is racist.

Some anti-Zwarte Pieten activists have suggested his blackface should be replaced with black smudges, since children are usually told his face has become black from going down chimneys. Well, that’s not too much to ask, is it? It fits in the tradition perfectly.
We could even add some white faced, rainbow faced and other colours of make up for the Pieten to it.

The Zwarte Pieten have already changed a lot. They used to act foolish, like a jester, but nowadays they are smarter than Sinterklaas in many ways. And they have many different roles and responsibilities like way-finding, managing, making music, the ten thousands of gifts, etc. which changed their name from all being ‘Black Pete’ into Way-finding Pete, Managing Pete, etc.

Traditions change all the time, so why not change the way the Pieten look? I hope next year the arriving of Sinterklaas and his Pieten will be nicely traditional but with different looking Pieten.

one thing you need in Amsterdam these days

senz embrella

Yes, we do get some rain sometimes in Amsterdam this time of year. But who cares?  With the right gear it’s fun to walk in the rain.
The right gear is of course a Senz umbrella.  It’s a Dutch Design and the umbrella is winner of almost all major design awards in the world. Its aerodynamic design makes sure the Senz° umbrella can resist winds up to 60 miles an hour without breaking or inverting.
That will keep you dry – and happy.
Naturally you hope that you don’t need an umbrella at all during your trip to Amsterdam. In that case you have a great souvenir to bring home, something that you can really use.
And if you do encounter some rain, here’s a tip on how to spend a rainy day in amsterdam
(not without your Senz umbrella of course).

tulip picking at the Dam Square on Saturday January the 19th

Photo: watbloemendoen.nl

Photo: watbloemendoen.nl

The third Saturday in January is National Tulip Day, the official start of the tulip season. Every year the Dam Square in Amsterdam is turned into a large tulip garden with about 200.000 tulips in many different colours. Everybody is invited to come and pick a free bunch of tulips, from 13.30 to 18.00 hours. Better make sure to be in time…

Info: mooiwatbloemendoen.nl (in Dutch)

More info on tulips in Amsterdam: Tulip mania

Amsterdam light festival

The days are short in winter in Amsterdam. That’s a possitive thing, because when it’s dark we can enjoy the Amsterdam Light Festival.  It’s new and it’s nice. From December 7th through January 20st. The festival has 4 main parts:

Boulevard of Light (December 7th through January 20th, from 7 PM until 10 PM)
Along a part of the Amstel River, around the Magere Brug, bridges and public buildings are illuminated in a spectacular and artistic way. In addition to that, some contemporary light sculptures by (famous) light artists are placed aside and on the Amstel River.

Illuminade (December 14th through December 30th, from 5 PM until 10 PM)
A walking tour of about 1 1/2 hour across the historic part of Amsterdam, between Amstel and the Maritime Museum, passing 20 inspiring light art objects.

Christmas Canal Parade (December 15th, from 6.30 PM)
In about 45 minutes, a parade of boats beautifully decorated with lights, passes the audience. Along the route several choirs will perform. The route is Westerdok, Prinsengracht, Amstel, Nieuwe Herengracht, Maritime Museum, Oosterdok.

Socialight
Various programs for and by the people of Amsterdam. They take place on various locations. A.o.:
Waterlooplein Lampshade Forest can be seen from December 7th through January 20th from 12 PM  – 10 PM at the Waterlooplein.
The Light my Ride tour on December 22nd, you can join with your embellished bike, skateboard, roller skates, in short, with anything that has wheels and is not motorized. Departure from the Museumplein, next to AH at 6.30 PM.

Nice to watch: The making of, a beautiful timelapse video of the construction of some of the light festival structures.