The canals - an additional layer to the urban set up (image: author)2013 is the year to visit the Dutch capital. Here’s why:

Outdoor Events

Cities like Amsterdam actively use festivalisation to attract visitors, a practice which results in a multitude of festivals, outdoor and indoor events that excite both tourists and locals.

A couple of the usual annual events in the Dutch capital are the Canal Gay Pride and Hartjes Dag in August, displaying Amsterdam as colourful and open-minded metropolis. Events like these attract up to 500 000 spectators.

One of the few Dutch bank holidays is the 30 April, also known as Queen’s Day. This year the Dutch will celebrate their last ‘Queen’s Day’, as on 30 April Queen Beatrix will abdicate and her son Willem-Alexander will take over. The original date for the Queen’s Day reaches back the previous Queen Juliana, who was born on 30 April 1949. As the new King Willem-Alexander was born just 3 days earlier, the new ‘King’s Day’ will take place every year from the 27 April 2014 onwards. Queen’s Day 2013 therefore looks set be an enormous party all across the city. If the usual coffeeshops and Red Light District is not normally enough to entice you – then this year’s Queen’s Day might just be that extra thrill you’re looking for.

Hartjesdag on Zeedijk Amsterdam, a multi-cultural district (Kevin Scott / Kevinscott.org)

Stedelijk Museum

In addition to these ‘usual’ outdoor events, 2013 has already seen the re-opening of the ‘Stedelijk Museum’ after years of building works. One of the most important art museums in the Netherlands, the architecture of the extension has already attracted some prominent discussion. The New York Times had this to say of the new museum experience: ”…entering an oversize plumbing fixture to commune with classic modern art is like hearing Bach played by a man wearing a clown suit.” Bewildering or beguiling- visit the Stedelijk Museum in 2013 to decide for yourself.

If it is cold enough and the canals freeze, the city opens them for ice skating (image: author)

If it is cold enough and the canals freeze, the city opens them for ice skating (image: author)

400 Years of the Canal Belt

The canal belt makes Amsterdam what it is. The canals add a second public level below the street level, enriching Amsterdam’s urban space. An additional choice for living and socialising, both during major events and festivities, but also for a casual boat tour or a night out with friends. Since 2010, the canal belt has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Various events around the 400-year anniversary of the canals are due to take place throughout 2013.

150 Years of Abolition of Slavery

Since 1 July 1863 slavery has been abolished in the Dutch colonies Suriname and the Dutch Antilles. For Amsterdam the question remains of how this landmark year fits into the list of celebrations scheduled for the city this year, or if this historical happening can foster a more serious general movement of commemoration and reflection.

More Culture

The re-opening of the Rijksmuseum, 125 years of the Amsterdam concertgebouw and 175 Years of Artis Royal Zoo: all these attractions add up to a great visit for culture lovers, art enthusiasts and families. If you are a culture-loving city traveler Amsterdam is a must to visit in 2013.

The Rijksmuseum on Museumsplein close by the Stedelijk and the Van Gogh Museum (by [Danbu] / via Wikimedia Commons)

It seems like there’s something special for everybody in Amsterdam in 2013. What are you most looking forward to? When are you coming over?

Christina Franken is a German architect who doesn't do buildings. She's a Social Designer in love with New Media/Mobile technologies and currently based in Amsterdam – an ever changing urban playground.