Choosing your New Year Eve Amsterdam is best done with some anticipation because tickets for the best Amsterdam New Years Eve Parties sell out fast. Most of the New Years Eve parties in Amsterdam have a pre-sale, known as ‘early-bird’, when you can buy discounted tickets. All over Holland, New Years Eve is celebrated heavily. In the Dutch traditional feast, oliebollen, champagne and fireworks play a big role.
Where to go for New Year Eve 2018/2019 in Amsterdam
New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam is celebrated outdoors. In Amsterdam, crowds gather at the most the main squares in the centre: Leidseplein, Dam Square, Rembrandtplein and Nieuwmarkt from around 21.30. There are bars outside and music. Just before the clock hits 00.00 hours, people take their bottle of champagne outside in the street where they live and wait for the New Year. They pour their glass, set off their own fireworks in the street and enjoy wishing everybody a Happy New Year. Street parties will last well into the night. Many clubs, bars and private parties continue partying until the early morning.
Fireworks at Java Island
In 2018-2019, the city of Amsterdam organises its own official fireworks at Java Island. It’s a bit of a chilly walk to get there, as it is along the IJ waters, just East of Central Station. To get there follow the East Architecture walk. When you arrive at Hannekes Boom, follow the water further eastward (on the other side of the water is the Amsterdam Light Festival.) This is the Dijksgracht. At the end turn left underneath the rail road tracks. Cross the road and you will end up at Jan Schaeffer bridge. You have a great view on the fire works from this bridge. Be aware that many of the bars and cafés in the area might be closed for New Years’ Eve or organise parties with ticket sale.
Fireworks in the city
From the Amstel river, you have the best view on the city to watch all the fireworks above the city. The beautiful Magere Brug (Skinny Bridge) is one of the best spots for a relaxing view. Nieuwmarkt is the hot spot for fireworks madmen. With Amsterdam Chinatown just around the corner, this is where you find the most spectacular fireworks shows (often with illegal fireworks). If you are afraid, avoid this area!
Clubbing on New Years Eve Amsterdam
All clubs in Amsterdam organise their own New Years Eve party but be ware that clubbing on New Years Eve in Amsterdam is much more expensive than other nights. Entrances can be around 30 euros. Buy your tickets in advance to enjoy the ‘early bird’ discount and to be assured of a ticket. If you want to enter a party later during the night which is not sold out, you can try bargaining the price at the door.
Also, transportation on New Years Eve is a problem. Taxis in Amsterdam are extremely hard to get on New Years Eve. Book a taxi in advance or make your way to the party before every one else does. Or rent a bike, at your own risk!
New Year’s Day in Amsterdam
On New Year’s Day, Amsterdam slowly awakes from the festivities. It will be a mess, with all the fireworks and champagne bottles covering the streets, but the heroes of the city (the cleaners!) will do their best to get everything nice and clean again.
Apart from some souvenir shops, all shops in Amsterdam will be closed on January 1, 2019. Many museums will also be closed. Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Rembrandt House Museum are open on New Year’s Day. New Years Day might be a good day to take a Amsterdam Light Festival Cruise on the Amsterdam canals.
New Year Eve traditions
New Year Eve in Amsterdam is one of the most festive nights of the year in The Netherlands, celebrated heavily in large cities as well as small villages. Traditionally, people stay indoors until the hours strikes 12, inviting friends and family for cosy gathering with lots of food and drinks.
People play board games or watch the traditional Oudjaarconference on television, a comedy/cabaret show aired on television about the events in Dutch society and politics.
At 12 the party moves outside to light fireworks. Circling around the block, whole families drop by their neighbours, while cheerfully wishing everyone happy New Year (“Gelukkig Nieuwjaar”). Most remarkable is the amount of fireworks people buy and set alight. The tradition is rooted firmly in Dutch society, when even in the smallest of villages, fathers set off colourful fireworks for their children.
The kids are allowed to play with fire, only just this one time a year and roam the streets, setting off small firecrackers to surprise unsuspecting passers-by. Some people send hundreds of euros up in smoke. (Every year, about 60 million euro’s worth of fireworks is sold in Holland!)
War zone Amsterdam
If you want to know what it feels like to live in a war zone, cycle around Amsterdam just after midnight and you’ll get a pretty good idea. The streets of Amsterdam are filled with a thick mist of smoke while large explosions (much of the larger bangs come from illegal fireworks imported from China) are heard throughout the night.
The Dutch tradition of fireworks does not come without risks. Every year, hundreds of people get injured, losing fingers and eyesight. Most dangerous are the fire crackers failed on the night it self and are gathered by children the next day. Because of the humidity, these left over crackers seem to be dead, but often enough, they just take much longer to explode, surprising the kids and with often seriously damaging effect.
In some towns and neighbourhoods (like Amsterdam Noord), the crowd prepares a large fire by gathering christmas trees and setting them ablaze. Fires could last well into the morning hours, as well as the parties.
Oliebollen and champagne
Champagne is the most popular drink on New Years Eve in Amsterdam, while Dutch oliebollen are the traditional New Year food. Many families have their own special recipe, handed from father to child. Because of the strong fumes, oliebollen are baked in the garden shed, on the balcony or just in the streets. How to make Dutch oliebollen. (video!)
New Years Day is filled with more traditional get-togethers. Families and local communities or organisations invite a number of people for the ‘nieuwjaarsreceptie‘, a new years reception, where everybody wishes each other a Happy New Year.