I often kick off the new year with a post about my top destination picks for the year. This year, I’ve chosen just one destination: Amsterdam! It’s going to be a great year for Amsterdam with tonnes of events and celebrations commemorating various historic milestones as well as the birthdays of some of Amsterdam’s most treasured icons. There are many reasons to visit Amsterdam – aside from the fact that it’s (arguably) one of the most beautiful cities in the world and it’s my home! - such as its canals, museums, theatres, nightlife and liberal attitudes, but this year promises to be special. Here are five reasons why:
1. 400th anniversary of the Amsterdam canals – the world-famous ring of canals was built exactly 400 years ago! Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the canals are the city’s most popular attraction and in my book, the best way to see the city. In addition to the annual events such as Queen’s Day (on 30th April) and the Gay Pride Canal Parade (first Saturday of August), there will be all sorts of festivals and concerts centered around and on the canals.
If the canals freeze up this winter (like they did last winter), you can be sure that festivals and parties will be planned on the ice!
2. Re-opening of the Rijksmuseum – the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam’s most famous museum and home to a priceless collection of paintings by the Dutch masters, has been closed for a decade for major renovations. After countless setbacks, the museum is set to re-open in April. YAY! There will be 80 exhibition spaces and more than 8,000 pieces, including the museum’s most treasured painting: Rembrandt’s Night Watch. I can’t wait to see the new interior!
3. 125th anniversary of the Concertgebouw – Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw is one of the most famous concert halls in the world – many experts say it has the best acoustics anywhere around. To celebrate its 125th anniversary, the Concertgebouw and its resident Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra will host a wide range of special concerts and events.
4. Van Gogh Museum celebrates its 40th birthday – another Amsterdam icon celebrates a milestone this year: the Van Gogh Museum. Housing the world’s largest collection of Van Gogh paintings, the museum is one of the most visited in the world. It is closed for renovations from September 2012 (during this time, the entire Van Gogh collection will be moved to the Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam), but will open its doors again in May 2013, in time for its birthday bash.
5. Artis Zoo turns 175! – the Artis Royal Zoo is one of Amsterdam’s most beloved attractions. Through its 175 years, the zoo has woven itself into the city’s social and cultural fabric in many ways. Locals and visitors alike come here to enjoy the green oasis in the city centre as well as view and learn about flora and fauna from around the world. To celebrate its 175th birthday, the zoo is planning a string of events and activities, amongst which, the Park in Bloom exhibition which will run from March till December.
For more information, please visit Amsterdam 2013.
UPDATE: February 2013
On 28th January 2013, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands announced that she will abdicate and pass the throne over to her oldest son, William-Alexander. The coronation of the new King will take place in Amsterdam on 30th April 2013. You can be sure that Amsterdam will throw the royal family a grand party – a sixth reason to visit Amsterdam this year!
Read more about Amsterdam on Velvet Escape.
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