Many young people have a number of European festivals on their bucket list: La Tomatina in Spain, Oktoberfest in Germany, Carnival in Venice. However, there’s an event in Amsterdam–and no, I’m not talking about the huge rave–one that’s little-known to non-Dutch speakers and really shouldn’t be missed.
I’m talking about Museum Night. I wouldn’t have had a clue about it if it wasn’t for Shaney Hudson, a Australian expat writer in the Netherlands who spilled the secret. The event’s web site makes no qualms about the event being mainly addressed to the Dutch public, although open to English-speakers.
The premise is similar to the Nuit Blanche in Paris: the city’s museums stay open all night. From 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. on the first Saturday of November, the cultural centers of the city turn into a huge party, complete with DJs, dancing and drinks.
A 17,50 Euro ticket gives you free entry into 45 museums, discounts at afterparties, free use of all public transportation and one free entry into a museum until December 31, 2010. A crazy good deal when you add up museum entry fees and the cost of public transport.
While some people take advantage of the cheap booze and dance floors, I was more interested in the museum factor. We wandered the route, stopping when we saw the giant, lit-up square in the streets–the sign of a participating venue.
We went to museums that didn’t even come up on my radar when planning our days, like Musuem Geelvinck, a private canal mansion of the one of the richest 18th-century families and Hortus Botanicus, one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world. We went to ones that we simply didn’t have the time or money to squeeze in, like the Foam photography museum and NEMO, a hands-on science museum. All in all, we were able to go to 10 different venues that all had completely different offerings and energies.
You simply haven’t partied until you’ve had drinks in a greenhouse or seen a rave in the back of a museum, shared a cheers with a group of Dutch people in a canal mansion or been awestruck by a electricity-less synagogue lit up completely by candles.
Museum Night was easily one of my best nights in Europe. If you want to check it out in 2011, I advise buying tickets early (and making sure you have them shipped to wherever you are in Europe, not your billing address in the States, as I foolishly did), renting a bike to get around more easily, taking it easy on the drinks early in the night and planning out a rough route beforehand. You won’t be able to see it all–we chose what museum we absolutely wanted to start and end at, and were pleasantly surprised by all the delights we discovered in between.
So if Amsterdam Museum Night isn’t already on your bucket list, add it. It more than makes up for the chilly November weather!