The Amsterdam canals and Light Festival

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I am proud of the Netherlands, my homeland, which has many beautiful sights and cities, allthough it is just a small country. I live in The Hague and work in Amsterdam, 2 of the biggest cities of Holland, and as my office is located along one of the canals I am lucky to walk around this special area each day. The canal area is quite famous and even listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Did you know that Amsterdam has even more canals than Venice and more bridges than Paris?

Amsterdam canals  Amsterdam canals Amsterdam canals at nightAmsterdam canals at night (1)  Amsterdam canals at night (3)

What makes the canals so pretty to me are the reflections on the water, the houseboats, the 8,000 official monuments and many crooked houses with a multitude of different historical facades, beautifully illuminated hotels and townhouses all next to each other along the waterside.

Amsterdam canals at day

Amsterdam canals at day

Amsterdam canals at night

Amsterdam canals at night

Thanks to the Light Festival every year Amsterdam is transformed into a colorful city of lights with the help of contemporary (inter)national light artists. The festival was created with the idea to give both the inhabitants as the visitors of Amsterdam more positivity during the dark Winter days. The festival also provides a stage for many talented artists. This time the 55-day festival can be visited from 28 November 2015 to 17 January 2016 and has the theme ‘Friendship’, which is depicted in many of the different artworks. I had never visited this festival before until last December and it was worth it!

Amsterdam Oosterdok sights (2)  Amsterdam Magere brug at dayAmsterdam light FestivalAmsterdam at night  Amsterdam boat tour

During December and January everyone, both young and old, can enjoy this spectacle of light for free on foot throughout the city. Or from the water by booking a boat cruise at one of the many canal boat companies in Amsterdam or go to Amsterdam Light

We did the canal tour by boat, which is recommended if you want to see all the artworks, as some can only to be seen on the open waters. We did however have a quite crowded and plastic covered boat which made it difficult to take pictures. Make sure to pick the right boat company and a boat with more space and privacy if you want to take pictures.

Amsterdam canal tour

After the boat tour I also did a small tour along the Herengracht canal on foot which provided better photo oppurtunities, but unfortunately also some rain, so both options have their advantages:) On foot you can see the following sights:

Run Beyond

Run Beyond

Run Beyond

This artwork is spread out over some of the prettiest bridges of Amsterdam and shows a record jump taken by an enlightened man. According to the artist Bonello nothing is impossible if you want it badly, not even a jump like this. This work illustrates the jump we all have to take in our lives: the leap to freedom. He quotes: ‘’To me this work is about the power of imagination, a power so strong that it makes individuals conquer their fears and limitations and causes them to open up to other cultures, new friendships and unknown worlds.’’

Inside the Run Beyond art work

Inside the Run Beyond art work

Paths crossing

Amsterdam light festival paths crossing

Open Lounge

Open LoungePolygonum

Polygonum  PolygonumPolygonum

Freedom as a valuable friend

Freedom as a valuable friend

Today I love you


Today I love you

This one is just across from the Central Train Station, which itself and the beautiful buildings around it are also a very pretty sight totally illuminated at night.

Amsterdam Central Train Station  Around the Amsterdam train station

By taking a boat tour, or even renting a waterbike or canoe and following the route from the Herengracht to the Oosterdok to Amstel, you will see Amsterdam in a whole different way. For both visitors and residents of the city the boat route is a very special way to experience the canals.

Boats will depart daily from 5 to 10 pm. The 75-minute boat tour takes you along, under and through the spectacular exhibitions.

Amsterdam canals  Amsterdam Light Festival

I loved gliding through the 17th century canals and passing by the special light works, while learning more about the artists’ idea behind each artwork. Even though the canals are already a pretty sight both at day as night, the light installations give them a whole new dimension. Some of the highlights of the boat tour were in my opinion:

Light Wave

Amsterdam light festival Light Wave

One of the biggest works of the festival, with its 20 by 11 meters this object is unique, impressive and dreamy. These measurements were necessary for the boats to be able to pass through. It looks like a transparent wave rising above the canal, which turns into a fluorescent jewel at night. The artist Anita Doornhein describes the experience as follows: ‘’When a boat sails in, the sensors are activated, changing the colours of the Lightwave. Visitors see dynamically flowing hues in oxygenated blues, turquoises and silver. Images of water and air bubbles give you the feeling of sailing under water, or underneath an iceberg.’’

Experiencing the Light Wave

Experiencing the Light Wave

Holon Light

Amsterdam light festival Holon Light

Light Kite

Amsterdam light festival light kite

The Uniting Lightstar

Amsterdam light festival uniting lightstar

My light is your light

My light is your light

Talking Heads

Amsterdam light festival Talking Heads

If you visit Amsterdam before the 17th of January make sure to check out this beautiful and creative festival, you won’t be disappointed.

For the perfect 2 days of sightseeing and shopping in this beautiful city you can also check out my previous Amsterdam blog post. And if you are still looking for the perfect trip to book to visit my country go to for my 8 day Amsterdam and Dutch heritage trip design.


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About Authentic Chica

Traveler, wanderer and explorer from the Netherlands, with a special love for authenticity, while keeping it chic. With a passion for traveling, lust for exploring, heart for holidays and an eye for beautiful things. Find out about my tips on how to find the perfect traveling combination of authentic chicness.
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