Amsterdam Light Festival Tickets

Opening hours

The festival of light occurs every evening from 5pm until 11pm during the course of this event which runs for around 2 months each winter. It usually runs from late November through to late January.

How to get there

There are exhibitions of light both on water and on land. The Amsterdam Light Festival is centred on several locations across the city centre along the canals and River Amstel.

You can download an interactive map of the festival’s locations and visit them by bicycle or even by walking along the given route. Another option is to go on a cruise of the canals. Several boat operators offer various deals connected to this festival.


How long has the festival been operating?
The first Amsterdam Light Festival was held in 2012, since then it has been growing steadily each year.
When can I see the next Amsterdam Light Festival?
The eighth edition of this festival will take place from November 28th, 2019 until January 19th, 2020.
Who can submit ideas to be displayed at the festival?
Creative ideas are invited from around the world. Anyone can apply from artists to designers, engineers, architects, students to professionals. The submissions for the next event closed on the 21st of January, 2019.
How many displays can be viewed at the festival?
There are dozens of large sized installations (36 in 2017) and many more small displays by Dutch and international creators. There are some displays on land others are exhibited over the water. The River Amstel and the city’s waterways are the perfect backdrop for this display of light and colour.
Is there a theme to each year’s festival?
Yes, each year there is a theme. This can be somewhat cryptic and is different each year. In 2017, the theme was ‘Existential,’ the centerpiece of the exhibition that year was created by Ai Weiwei, an artist from China. His creation was called ‘Thinline, representing a theoretical border. It was an illuminated red line that extended for 6,5km’s alongside the city’s canals.’ In 2017, around 900 submissions were received that were whittled down to just 36 entries. Other recent themes have been ‘Biomimicry,’ ‘A View on Amsterdam’ and ‘The Medium is the Message.’
What types of displays can I expect to see?
You can see various displays of light in a variety of positions along the waterways of Amsterdam. Some displays are suspended above the water, others cross the water while some even emerge from below the water level. Other displays are erected on the banks of the waterway while yet more are simply projected onto buildings.
Where is the best place to view the displays?
The displays are in different locations each year but can usually be seen along the Herengracht, New Herengracht and Brouwersgracht canals as well as along the Amstel River between the Oosterdok (Eastern Dock) and the Central Station.

Must Know

One of Europe’s largest light festivals
The Amsterdam Light Festival has quickly developed into one of Europe’s leading festivals of light art. Every year artists design a new piece of artwork specifically with this festival in mind. After premiering in Amsterdam, many of these pieces are then part of a permanent collection that travels to other festivals around the world.
Aims of the festival
The festival aims to bring visitors together with international artists during the dark winter months. Its aim is to involve and inspire its visitors through the enlightenment of its artists.
The preparation work for each festival is an ongoing feat that continues throughout the year. When one festival begins the next is already well into its planning stages. The preparation begins with a call worldwide to artists to contribute to an annually changing theme. After a jury has considered all the applications they are whittled down to a manageable number with the chosen artwork being developed over a period of around 8 months prior to the festival opening.
Light Art Collection
After each festival has ended the artwork is included into an internationally exhibited collection so that artists can get recognition for their work. Throughout the year the Light Art Collection which currently stands at over 200 exhibits is exhibited in what has become the world’s largest collection of Light Art.
Education and artists of the future
The festival organisers are actively engaged in teaching the next generation about light art. Working together with local education programmes the festival hopes to create enthusiasm through workshops and lectures. Through projects such as this, students are able to create a work of art that could be included in future festivals.
What does it cost?
The light festival is essentially a free event depending upon how you choose to experience it. You can download a free guide and walk or cycle a given route in a couple of hours or an evening. There are also organised tours for both walking and cycling complete with a guide. Boat tours come in all shapes and sizes and budgets.

Places Nearby

Amsterdam Toren
This is Amsterdam’s latest attraction and one of its most innovative. It is located across the River IJ from the Centraal Station (there’s even a free ferry service across the river). It was formerly the HQ of Shell and now hosts a hotel, a skybar, a private members club and two restaurants. One of the restaurants slowly rotates through 360 degrees so you can enjoy the stunning views across the area. From the roof, there is also, if you dare, the highest swing in Europe with your legs dangling over the edge of the building 100 metres above the street.
Vondelpark is considered to be the green lungs of the city and was one time the only place in the world where you could legally have a barbeque, smoke some weed and have sex. Times change and now it is illegal to have a barbeque here. The park has other uses, jogging and impromptu sports. There are also several cafes, playgrounds for children as well as a paddling pool. If you have time for some culture there is also an open air theatre.
NSDM Wharf
This was formerly a shipyard on the northern bank of the River IJ. The area has grown into a cultural hotspot with a good mix of artistic events, bars and restaurants. While you are here you can enjoy some great food and drink, the largest flea market in Europe which is held once a month, several festivals and exhibitions. There are plans to build 2000 homes here and turn this hotspot into an artistic community.