New Year's Eve in Amsterdam: tips for the blogging community

When in Amsterdam... - Blogged

This is a blog for all the bloggers who are visiting Amsterdam for New Year's Eve. asked how to go about New Years Eve in Amsterdam? (Updated 2015)

This is not an easy question and after experiencing many of these wonderful nights in Amsterdam we are still learning new and wonderful spots. We at Omy Amsterdam Tours are always looking to help and teach people about Amsterdam, a city we love.

Yesterday we covered fireworks so you know where to get them from.

We have valuable survival advice so you can have your own fantastic experience.Why? Because we belong to the blogger's community and no one ever told us the below points when first experiencing New Year's Eve in Amsterdam. We learnt them the hard way.

In the Dutch tradition we will start honest and finish honest.

First a few words of warning.

The city is full and I mean FULL.
Hotels are full, restaurants are full, clubs are full and the streets are full. If you haven't booked a nice restaurant or a club by the last week of December you are not going to get in unless you know the manager or the owner. There is no real place to hide, especially in the inner historic centre of Amsterdam.

No Transport.
Due to the overwhelming surge in the city's population at New Year's Eve public transport grinds to a halt. Finding taxis is difficult and Amsterdam's taxies are not known for being forgiving on visiting folk in the best of times.

Watch your backs.
The city is invaded by young men armed with small explosives. They are not afraid to use these explosives and throwing a banger into a crowd is commonplace. If I was young teen again I probably would be doing the same thing so please don't get cross at their excitement. Just see them coming before they frighten the socks off you.

Telephone Gridlock.
The city is jammed packed with people and everyone is sending text messages. On New Year's Eve in Amsterdam the mobile phone network is overloaded. On this one night it is back to the days before mobile phones. Set up meeting points at certain times in case your group gets separated is a must. If you want to meet someone set time and place before the sun sets. Then set up back up places an hour or two latter in case the first meet up fails.

These tips will be of more use to you than knowing where are the coolest hip and happing parties.

Now for the positive tips.

Arm yourself with Supermarket beer/wine
I learnt this off the Amsterdammers a long time ago. During the day visit the national supermarket institution known as Albert Hein is a must. With an eight pack of Amstel beer costing 5 euro you and your wallet will thank me when you recover in the New Year. If you buy something that is discounted you are going to need a discount card. Just ask any dutch person in the checkout line for those. The Dutch understand the value of a discount and won't begrudge anyone a few euro off their bill.

Please buy tins of beer and plastic glasses for your wine. Avoid GLASS BOTTLES. I have told many tourists this line. "Bikes and glass do not go together." By law you are not allowed to drink on the street. The  Dutch are famous for their tolerance and New Year's Eve in Amsterdam is one of the nights you get to let your hair down and kick up your heels.

Nieuwmarket, Amsterdam New Year's Eve

Nieuwmarket (New Market) Is the Place to Be.
On the edge of the Red Light District this is my favourite place central location. Dam Square and Museumplein (Museum Square) are good but full of people not from Amsterdam.  Nieumarkt is at the end of China Town. The Chinese invented fireworks. Need I say more?

                            Youtube clip of New Year's Eve in Amsterdam thanks to Amsterdam1971

Maritime Museum

In 2014/5 New Year's Eve in Amsterdam the city and the Maritime Museum put on a large display. Infrastructure was there to help crowds. Free toilets and lots of space for vantage points to see the fire works. Check with the IAmsterdam website for an update before you come.

For Families Visit the Library
This may sound like a weird tip but I have left the best to last. The Amsterdam Central Library is the largest public library on the continent of Europe. It is open until 10pm. Take your son and wife to the top after dark and enjoy what will be the best view of your trip to Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is flat. Hence the name the Netherlands and any elevation on this evening is an experience you won't soon forget. No matter how many coffee shops you visit.

The library is also close to Nieuwmarkt, only a twenty minute stroll in a full Amsterdam. There is also a cafe (eating cafe not smoking) at the top so if you haven't been able to snare a dinner reservation you should be able to get something from the food hall. Best of all, entrance to the library is free.

Ok, blogging community and Matthew, Happy New Year.

Nieuwmarket, Amsterdam post New Year's Eve

What is most important is that,

When in Amsterdam...... Enjoy!

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When in Amsterdam... - Blogged

Amsterdam fireworks over Nieuwmarkt square

A great party is had by all on 31 December in Amsterdam. The canals and streets are full of people blowing up fire works. In most countries you are not allowed to buy your own fire works but the Dutch allow you this liberty. Fire work shops opened today and sell pyrotechnics for three days.

My favourite shop is in the Red Light District The address is Bethanienstraat 24.

Firework shop in Amsterdam's Red Light District

There are two locations near the Anne Frank House Museum.

Party Balloon on the Rozengracht 65. Also Closer to the Dam Sqaure is Louis Wittenburg on the RaadHuisstraat 16. These two places are normally party decoration and costume shops during the year.

Near Vondel Park we have Vuurwerk de Klerk on the Brederodestraat.

The sale of fireworks is not without controversy. Last year two boys lost their lives exploding hand made bombs. In Amsterdam almost 500 fires were extinguished by the fire department. Most of these fires were lit in rubbish bins. In 2014/5 a young 11 year boy in Amsterdam lost his hand to fireworks.

Amsterdam firework selection

Due to the strict controls many Dutch drive to Belgium to buy their rockets and party explosives. Fireworks are on sale all year around in the neighbouring country and fireworks not allowed in the Netherlands are often transported across the border.

Another trend has been to buy over the internet. Authorities have had problems with people sending and receiving fireworks in the mail. One report cited that 60% of fireworks are bought over the internet.

Amsterdam firework display at Maritime Museum

Belgian authorities seized 220 tonnes of fireworks earlier this week because stores did not have the right permit, they were stored incorrectly or there was too many fireworks in one location.

In May 2000 a fireworks storage facility blew up in the eastern Dutch city of Enschede killing 23 people including 4 fire men.

Enjoy Amsterdam over the New Year period but please be safe.

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!

Amsterdam fireworks after the big night

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28 years ago Famous Sex Theatre Burns Down

When in Amsterdam... - Blogged

On 16 December 1983 the famous sex theatre, which had opened in 1969, the Casa Rosso burned down. The theatre is famous for showing live sex acts performed on stage. The fire was started by a disgruntled former employee Joseph Lan at the former location of 92-100 Oudezids Achterburgwal. He poured petrol through the building and then reportedly lite it with gun. Lan was eventually arrested and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Click on the link to see the crowds watch the fire be put out.

ANP Historisch Archief

The owner of the Casa Rosso, Zwarte Jopie (original name Maurits De Vries)  wanted to leave the business and Amsterdam after the fire. The City authorities thought drug dealers from the nearby Zeedijk would take over the place. Jopie was encouraged to rebuild and moved the location of the theatre to its current spot 50 metres up the canal.

A memorial was built to remember the victims of the fire and stand there to this day.

When in Amsterdam....enjoy!

Crazy Men and Their Magnificent Flying Machines in Amsterdam the City of Bicycles

When in Amsterdam... - Blogged

Once a year for the last 3 years Amsterdam has been visited by rare old pre-war auto mobiles. Yes, the city of bicycles and canals will host the 100 Miles of Amsterdam. This weird and wonderful event pits man and machine against the winter elements of Amsterdam in the dead of night in a race against time.

This event was established by rally and vintage car enthusiasts, specifically pre-1940 cars. This year it will take place on the night 18 December and be completed on 19 December.

This year around 50 pre-war cars will take to the streets in this all night rally test. The rally starts at Huize Frankendael in Amsterdam East. Contestants will drive through the city. Dam Square and the 9 Streets, especially Reestraat will be great vantage points. They head to the centre of Utrecht where they stop before returning to the banks of the River Ij in Amsterdam.

The Amsterdam Watch Company in Amsterdam's famous shopping districts De 9 Straatjes (9 Streets) is proud to sponsor the event and has designed the wonderful poster below.

On their website The 100 Miles Amsterdam event organisers justify the event citing, apart from good old fun, sustainability and innovation. They believe that today products have a short life and that people are not building products that last. Rallying old cars is supposed to show how men and women can make things that go on for decades instead of being replaced every 3-5 years and placing burden on the environment.

Poster of The 100 Miles of Amsterdam by Amsterdam Watch Company in De 9 Straatjes Amsterdam

Below is a link from The Telegraaf. They made a short clip about last years event.

Everyone has pictures of bikes in Amsterdam and my town bike is one of my prized possessions but their is something classic and cool about old cars racing around Amsterdam. Rug up, get out and see these crazy, mostly,  men and their magnificent flying machines. Send us photos too.

When in Amsterdam.....enjoy!

Dutch Christmas: Racist or Family Affair?

When in Amsterdam... - Blogged

When in Amsterdam has realised it's that time of the year again. Sinterklaas (Dutch Santa), when the Dutch celebrate the eve of his birthday on 5 December.

When I first visited Holland. I was amazed by this tradition and totally shocked by the 'Black Petes' running around handing out candy. Black Petes are Sinterklaas's helpers.

Seeing grown European men and women blacken their faces, slap on red lipstick, and jump around helping an old white man took me back to the images of theatre in America in the 19th century making fun of black slaves.

This year I realised I am becoming more Dutch. The Black Petes didn't worry me at all. I saw a small boy dressed in an harlequin outfit with a blacken face. The tourists saw him, took lots of photos and caused a commotion on the bike path. I didn't look twice. This year I didn't get stirred up about the racial undertones of this family holiday. Instead I looked at the happiness in the eyes and on the faces of small children.

The race issue is still heavley debated here in the Netherlands and in Dutch communities around the world. This year 5 people were arrested in Amsterdam for interrupting the arrival parade of Sinterklass. They wore t-shirts that said 'Black Pete is racism'.

In Canada too there was controversy this year regarding the festival.
  New Westminster Sinterklaas event cancelled due to Black Pete Concerns

Most blogs in English, or any language other than Dutch, about Amsterdam or the Netherlands cover this issue at least once. They more or less describe the same main points. Lets cover these points quickly.

Who is Sinterklaas?
St Nicholas - A Greek/Turk who spent his life giving away his objects and helping children in need. The patron Saint of Children, fishermen and sailors.

Where is Sinterklaas from? 
Turkey, the old Greek part but he retired to Spain.

What is Sinterklaas doing in the Netherlands?
He arrives two weeks before his birthday and comes to  reward the boys and girls of the Netherlands if they have been good.

Who are Sinterklaas helpers?
Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) there are many of them. They are black with curly dark hair and wear red lipstick. The Zwarte Piets tell St Nick if a child has been good or bad and help carry the old Saint's bag of goodies for good children and beat and put in a sack bad children to take them back to Spain.

What happens on 5 December?
Families meet for lunch or dinner. Simple presents are left by Sint sometimes sarcastic poems are attached to the gifts.

This year I sat down to Sinterklaas dinner. It was a table of 12 people that spanned three generations. I realised that I was the only non-Dutch person at the table. Instead of debating the racist over(under) tones I simply asked them what they liked about Sinterklaas?

Here is what they said about the Sinterklaas festival:
'presents, poems and fun'
'spending time with siblings and parents'
'celebrating with 25 cousins'
'a surprise party for family and friends with lots of food and presents'
' Dutch national day'
'a nice tradition'
'pepernoten, marcipan and other candy that is not good for you'
'as a child we would leave our shoes at the door for three weeks.In the shoe we would put a carrot or an apple or turnip. If we were lucky we would get something in return.'

No matter your standpoint on this Dutch festival it is hard to escape the political debate. What I do know is that children love this holiday. Furthermore, when it comes to dressing up the children always want to dress up as Black Pete rather than Sinterklaas. Black Pete has all the candy and is a mischievous character. Right or wrong you can see why the children love him.

The final word on this topic is left to the gang from the famous Amsterdam comedy house, Boom Chicago.

When in Amsterdam... Enjoy