Happy New Year from Amsterdam!
I hope you and those you care about have a wonderful 2017.
I know I have much to be grateful for. This month I’m celebrating my first year as a published author, which is something I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to say! I’m extremely happy to have connected with so many amazing and interesting authors and readers this year. I’ve learned so much from all of you. I am indebted to those who have bought my books, reviewed them or told their friends about them. Without your support and encouragement, I wouldn’t be able to call my first year a success. Thank you!
Amsterdam Light Festival
I know I feel like rejoicing! Since we have to wait another twenty-four hours for fireworks, I want to share with you one of my favorite ways to celebrate the winter here in the Netherlands, visiting the Amsterdam Light Festival.
From late November to mid-January, Amsterdam is lit up with dancing, pulsating and glowing light art installations floating in the waterways, projected onto monumental buildings or attached to the many bridges crisscrossing the city center.
There are two routes. The Water Colors route displays monumental pieces placed in the Herengracht and is easily accessible by boat or bike. The Illuminade route is comprised of smaller, interactive objects and installations my young son loves to play with. This second route is meant to be walked, meaning the works of art are placed fairly close together. It winds through the Plantage neighborhood, where Artis Zoo, the Hollandsche Schouwburg and Hortus Botanicus are located. Walking the Illuminade route has become a family tradition on the second day of Christmas.
The installations and objects created especially for this event by artists and architects are quite a departure from the yuletide displays I’m used to seeing in the American cities I was raised in. There, homeowners try to outdo their neighbors by creating the brightest or most extensive Christmas light shows adorning their houses and yards. It was favorite pastime during December to drive around the neighborhoods and see which displays me and my friends liked the most.
Here in Amsterdam lights aren’t strung up only for the holidays, but to brighten up the long dark nights of late autumn and winter. The Dutch tend not to go overboard with the Christmas theme, choosing for subdued elegance over flashy abundance. Strings of white and yellow lights are arranged to look like snow in the windowpane, covering a tree’s branches or dusting the tops of shrubbery. It’s not the extravagant, vibrant, flashing mishmash of Santa’s and reindeer of my youth. But it is quite lovely.
If you’re in Amsterdam in January, be sure to check out the Amsterdam Light Festival from a boat, bike or on foot. The installations are lit up at 5 pm until 10 pm. Don’t forget to bring an extra warm jacket; we’re experiencing quite the cold winter at the moment!
While you’re waiting for the lights to turn on, check out one of the many holiday markets and ice skating rinks, or head out to the Amsterdam Arena and see an exhibition of ice sculptures. If you’re in town for New Year’s Eve, don’t miss the organized fireworks display at midnight in the front of the Scheepvaartmuseum Museum. It is quite spectacular.
The Amsterdam Light Festival has become my personal highlight during the long winter months, an event I make a point of visiting several times during December and January.
What about where you live; what is your favorite holiday or winter event held in your hometown?
Happy New Year!