Dance, Theater, and Music

“It started out as a hippie hangout and remains shockingly hip to this day.”—Steve Korver, editor, Amsterdam Weekly. Everyone from the Rolling Stones to Prince has performed on the main stage of this pop temple venue near the Leidseplein. Up-and-coming bands (including Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys, when they were just starting out) play in the more intimate, and cheaper, upstairs hall. Tickets from $9. Weteringschans 6-8; tel. 31 20 626 4521.

The Dutch National Ballet
“One of the country’s jewels, they do an outstanding job on the classics.”—Monique Gruter, freelance dance critic. Performances in the 1,600-seat Muziektheater, famous for its Carrara marble facade, curved glass front wall, and a huge stage suitable for epic productions. Tickets from $19. Het Muziektheater, Amstel 3; tel. 31 20 625 5455.;

The Netherlands National Opera
“A first-rate company that doesn’t focus on big names.”—Guus van den Hout, executive director, Museum Catharijneconvent. Often underrated operas performed in innovative, inspiring ways. Performances held in the Muziektheater. From $23. Het Musiektheater, Amstel 3; 31 20 625 5455.

Netherlands Dance Theater
“They are actually based in Den Haag (The Hague), but they perform in Amsterdam, and all over the world.”—Monique Gruter. Emphasis on contemporary, innovative choreography and modern classics; features two ensembles that perform frequently—NDT 1 is the main company, NDT 2 showcases young dancers—and its third ensemble features dancers over 40. 31 70 8800 100.

Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ
“Located in the newly developed docklands area, the building sits right on the water so you get beautiful liquid effects, like you’re floating.”—Bart Plantenga, producer and host, Wreck This Mess radio show. Called the concert hall of the 21st century, it features perfect acoustics for large-scale concerts; the smaller Binhuis next door hosts jazz and improvisational concerts. Tickets from $13. Piet Heinkade 1; tel. 31 20 788 2000.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Orchestra performs in the recently restored Concertgebouw, a 19th-century concert hall, just opposite the Rijksmuseum in the museum quarter. Famous for its pitch-perfect acoustics and legendary performances. Tickets from $23. Concertgebouwplein 2-6; tel. 31 20 671 8345.


“A modern nightclub with trendy big-name DJs, dancing, good looks, and a big terrace that makes it a hot spot in the summer.”—Bart Plantenga, producer and host, Wreck This Mess radio show. Former generator building converted into glam hangout and divided into three areas: 140-seat restaurant, dance floor, and champagne bar. Tickets from $11.50. Oostelijke Handelskade 4; tel. 31 20 311 8686.

Sugar Factory
“A comfortable, quirky club cum theater that hosts DJ nights but also nutty cabaret and avant-garde, edgy, often hilarious performance artists.”—Steve Korver, editor, Amsterdam Weekly. Located just off the Leidseplein; every night a different show (jazz to theater, dance, hip-hop, and poets) so check the online calendar. Tickets from $7.50. Lijnbaansgracht 238; tel. 31 20 627 0008.

Café ‘t-Smalle
“A classic brown bar—named for its dark wood and smoke-stained walls—which started out as one of the city’s first jenever, or Dutch gin, distilleries, in the 18th century.”—Benjamin Draijer, manager, Café de Pool. The popular Jordaan bar has a canal-side terrace, but opt for the intimate interior, featuring stained-glass panels and low-hanging Dutch chandeliers. Egelantiersgracht 12; tel. 31 20 623 9617

Bierproeflokaal in de Wildeman
The place has something like 17 beers on tap and 200 beers in bottles."—Bart Plantenga. Near the central Spui square; draws all ages, from hipsters to grandparents; bar policy bans music, so people can actually talk. Kolksteeg 3; tel. 31 20 638 2348.

“An independent performance and multiuse space that presents cinema, dance, art shows, and DJ nights, often featuring electronica and avant-garde noise.”—Bart Plantenga. Also a vegan restaurant and a nonprofit darkroom and print shop; calendar jumps from surrealist film nights to laptop orchestras, Harakiri discos, and free-form family dance-ins. Tickets from $9. Overtoom 301; tel. 31 20 779-4913.

Created by the team that runs the legendary Supperclub, this centrally located lounge, bar, and restaurant is a whirl of kilims (woven rugs) and cushions that simulates an Arabian Bedouin tent; guests dine first and then dance it off. Rozengracht 133; tel. 31 20 344 6401.


Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag)
April 30. Amsterdam’s version of Mardi Gras, this celebration of the Dutch monarch’s birthday (actually Queen Juliana’s birthday, now adopted by the reigning Queen Beatrix) features a city-wide flea market (everyone is allowed to set up stalls), parades, platoons of party boats on the canals, dancing in the streets, and an all-night party on April 29th.

Open Garden Days
Mid-June. Private houses along the canals offer tours of their lush, hidden back gardens.

Holland Festival of the Performing Arts
First three weeks of June. A massive line-up of national and international opera, dance, theater, and concert performances; tickets go on sale in early March and often sell out quickly for the most anticipated performances.

Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival)
August. A series of concerts held in various locations throughout the city center; one of the festival highlights is a concert performed on a stage floating on the Prinsengracht.

Amsterdam Dance Event
October. A three-day dance and music spectacle, featuring more than 300 acts and DJs spread over 30 clubs including Paradiso, Panama, and Meklweg.

Museum Night
Early November. Over 40 museums open their doors to the public at night, with special events, performances, and DJs.


About Amsterdam and the Netherlands

  • <p>Photo: Cafe 't-Smalle</p>


    Get travel tips, see photos, take a quiz and more with National Geographic's Ultimate Guide to Amsterdam.

  • <p>Photo: De Valk Windmill</p>

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    Explore the Netherlands through facts and photos, related features, a country map, and more.

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