Amsterdam illuminated by annual light festival

The festival has run for the past five years, following Henk Jan Buchel and Vincent Horbach’s organising of the first canal parade of the city in 2009. The two recognised that light could achieve a beautiful effect against Amsterdam’s famous canals and illustrate the city’s unique culture.

This year the festival is running from the 6th December until the 19th January so there is still plenty of time to catch this magical experience if you are undertaking river cruises in Europe this winter. Displaying some 30 light sculptures and projections under a number of themes, this year’s edition is said to be more spectacular than ever before. With the option to see these spectacular illuminations by water and by land, with canal and walking routes, the festival really does show off the beauty of Amsterdam.

What’s more, nearby museums and galleries are getting involved too, with their own interpretation of the light theme; from stars to light graffiti, each museum and gallery has its own take on the festival and its core theme. To see which institutions are involved in the project, click here.

As a part of the festival, a number of special concerts are taking place in Amsterdam throughout the duration of the event, with a selection of Amsterdam Canal Festival Winter Special performances taking place across a range of locations in the city. To find out more about the different recitals that may be happening during your European river cruise, visit the

One of the highlights of this year’s festival has to be the Artwork entitled ‘Big Tree’, created by French artist Jacques Rival. The work can be seen from the canal or land through the Magere brug (or Skinny Bridge) and takes the form of a tree made up of a number of LED coloured branches.

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