Come December stalls start to appear all over Amsterdam, bringing their deep fried pastry goodness to the frozen, the hung over and the poor. Covered in sweet white powder and devoured with relish, the arrival of the Olie Bollen on the streets means that one event is looming on the horizon - New Year’s Eve!
The Dutch have a few different names for New Year’s Eve - Oudjaarsdag is one, Oud en nieuw, another. Whatever you call it, one thing is for certain - New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam is not for the faint hearted and it’s certainly better suited to the crazy party animals out there. Christmas trees are burnt in the middle of the street, bottle rockets shoot into the sky and snappy caps will nip at your heels as you walk along the pavement.
Of course there are plenty of clubs with plenty of big parties going on over New Year’s, so it’s worth checking the special piggy guide to see if there’s something you’re into, something that fits your budget or simply if there are any tickets left for the big night.
Despite the cold you’ll still find most people out on the street looking for a bit of New Year’s action and there is one thing that seems to get the party kicking, every year. It’s not the mass consumption of liquor and legalised drugs that get the crowded riled up (although that certainly helps). It is in fact a New Year’s indulgence so naughty and forbidden in the city of sin that it’s only on sale for a few days before New Year’s Eve – fireworks!
It seems funny that in a country where it’s legal to smoke weed it is considered a crime to light a firecracker for most of the year. Spend New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam, however, and you’ll begin to understand which is more hazardous to your health.
The city sounds like it is being carpet-bombed and what you think is snow falling around 1am is actually ash from all of the sky high explosions. It is pure chaos and it is fantastic. The big fireworks are let off around midnight in the Museumplein (the massive green space by the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum) where there are also DJs spinning tunes and bands playing. Those tempted to be in the thick of trouble should head to Nieuwmarkt where the rowdiest revellers with the biggest fireworks hang out.
My personal pick is to perch on one of the smaller bridges along the Amstel. Shoot bottle rockets off into the night sky and when the clock strikes 12, you’ll be enveloped in the well wishes and cheers of the crowd around you.
In the meantime, what can keep you busy in Amsterdam between now and then, and beyond into 2011?
Well winter has come early to Holland and Amsterdam has been dusted in its first coating of the white stuff for the winter season. Thanks to God, La Nina, El Nino, global warming and climate change, The Netherlands had one of the coldest winters last year and this season looks set to be another whiteout.
While many might argue that this is the perfect excuse to curl up in a cosy room with the green stuff, I beg to differ. Winter is the perfect time to put on that scarf and get out into the cold to experience a winter wonderland of Dutch delights.
Last winter the canals in Amsterdam froze over for the first time in 12 years, and this season, everyone is hoping it will happen again. For this freak of nature to occur, the city needs about four days of freezing temperatures - for a solid blanket of icy crust to form.
Just to help things along a little, if it looks like there is going to be a cold snap the local government will order all boat activity to cease on certain parts of the canals. Why? So you can go ice-skating on natural ice. Although you’re bound to hear about it if it does happen (the city will be gripped by ice fever), it’s best to keep an eye out on the smaller ponds in the public parks around the city. But be careful! If the Dutch and their kids are there, it’s safe to head out on the ice. If they are not, take a very strong hint and don’t be the first one to test out how thick the ice is!
Even if the main canals don’t freeze over, a skating rink is set up on the Rembrandtplein with skate hire over Christmas and New Year’s. Traditionally, the Dutch will skate and then eat thick pea soup with chunks of sausage in it. While it doesn’t sound all that appetising, after a morning of skating it’s exactly what you need. Occasionally you’ll see some intrepid locals selling big homemade cooking pots of it by the ice, making it the perfect cultural experience.
But the best winter warmer is Gluhwein, wine served hot with orange peel and cloves that will not only warm you up but give you the kind of light alcoholic buzz, a standard cup of hot Chocomel won’t
So sit back, sip a little and enjoy the silly season, Amsterdam style.
- Shaney Hudson
Play this game and win free nights @ the Pig!Play our yearly winter game and win 2 free nights. This is your chance to stay at the Flying Pig for free; just practice your old Packman skills again!
Play the Flying Pigman Game and try to get as many points as you can. You can play as often as you like; the person with the highest score (before the 1st of January 2011) wins two nights of free accommodation at a Flying Pig hostel for one person – or one night for two people. (which you can use anytime in 2011, but only if there is availability of course)!!
You can find the rules in the 'How to Play' section and make sure you fill out your email address on the scoreboard, so that we can contact you!
New Year in The Dam
So, you've managed to be in Amsterdam for New Year? Nice one. A fine choice in fact. But where to from here?
From the average backpacker’s point of view, where the budget is tight, the best place to be requires no cover charges, no ticket buying, and no organisation, so put your thermal knickers on, pop a glow-stick, and head outside. The canals, streets and squares are host to thousands of merry party-people, live music and shenanigans.
Museumplein is where the big celebrations are this year, with a large organised fireworks display, DJs and bands. But that is by no the extent of the street festivities. People gather at all the main squares and Nieuwmarkt is where the public set off their fireworks in a terrifically chaotic fashion. Don't be surprised if you find a few scorch marks on your clothes the next day!
The surrounding streets and canals are full of quirky little gatherings and parties, and if you cruise the area shouting: "gelukkig nieuwjaar!" (prosperous new year), you'll no doubt make some friends.
If you've tucked away a little extra cash for the occasion, or feel a little more organised, Amsterdam has a swag of party options too!
The pick of the bunch is Dazzleville, a mighty 6 zone extravaganza at the NDSM docklands. It’s has over 45 DJs, bands and acts, in a range of musical styles. This area is one of the most unique and bizarre locations in Amsterdam, and is accessed by a free 10-minute ferry ride - past an old Soviet submarine. Cool!
At the Paradiso club the Psychadelic NYE Special event is due to land on December 31, 2010. Every floor of this old church will be dressed up in neon and there will be glow in the dark body paint everywhere. There’s also rumour of a psychedelic surprise! The dress code is psycho-day-glo! www.paradiso.nl
Melkweg is the city's premier music venue and the New Year celebrations here promise a great line up in three rooms. The infamous Wicked Jazz Sounds will be hosted in the Max, while Dekmantel and NON Records can be found in the Oude Zaal and the Theatre, respectively.
There are too many other parties and events to get into too here, but your local Flying Pig will of course be getting festive with the best of them. It’s - No Glitter No Glory night at the downtown where DJ Beaver (all the way from Canada) will be on the decks. You can also pick up a bottle of Champagne here for a sly ten euro!
The Uptown has all-you-can drink (Dommelsch beer and red wine) for 25 euro between 20.00 and 24.30, and the Beach Hostel's NY party is also a goodie, with fireworks on the beach!
All through December there will be ice rinks through the city, many streets and canals are illuminated with light for that magical touch. Shops will be open longer and Stalls selling traditional fried doughnuts (oliebollen) and small pancakes (poffertjes) are everywhere. This is Amsterdam at the end of 2010 and into 2011.
Extra shopping nights in December
Many shops have longer opening hours in December. The regular shopping evening in Amsterdam is Thursday night when shops are open till 21.00. But though December there will be extra shopping nights for all your last minute Christmas shopping (just because you’re not spending Christmas at home doesn’t mean you don’t have to buy your little brother a present). The extra shopping nights are on the 21st and 22nd of December when the shops will be open till 21.00 and on the 27th, 28th, and 29th of December when the shops will be open to 20.00
World Christmas Circus
Every December the Royal Theatre Carré is the venue for the World Christmas Circus. This year is the 25th anniversary of the circus and will be jam packed with famous acts. The world-renowned illusionist Hans Klok will perform along with a flying trapeze act from Korea, the clown of all clowns Fumagalli and bicycle acrobats from China. The World Christmas Circus proves that the circus is still very much alive.
It is still unsure if this winter will be cold enough for the canals to freeze over so until that might happen you can always go skating on one of the ice skating rinks around town. Every year in December the reflecting pool on Amsterdam's Museumplein becomes an ice-skating rink, surrounded by stalls selling hot chocolate and poffertjes (small delicious pancakes). A smaller rink will be at the Leidse square at the end of the shopping street bang in the middle of area filled with bars, clubs and restaurants. Remember don’t drink and skate!
Christmas in Amsterdam
Since Christmas is a family oriented holiday and spent at home with friends and family it will be quiet around town. If you want to dine out it is best to book a table in advance. Boxing Day, 26 December, is another quiet day although some shopping centers will open. On Christmas Eve, enjoy a free concert of Christmas classics at Concertgebouw or head to the Westergasfabriek Complex for The Winterparade, packed with theatre, music, dance, films and merry making. After the family Christmas diner people will head out to meet friends - especially on boxing day when the bars and clubs will be full.
Friday Night at the Van Gogh Museum is occurring on January 7, 2011 at 18.00. Expect a bar, low lights, DJs, dancing and fun times.
On Jan 19, 2011 a rather special Jazz Concert will be kicking off at 19.00 in the Amsterdam Dungeons. www.the-dungeons.nl
- Eva Dam
The snow is coming down and the Holiday decorations are up. This means that the Piggies at the Beach Hostel are getting cosy and making preparations for the next big party – New Year’s Eve!
All of the beach Piggies have spent days on end in the smoke room - mixing a lil’ local Noorwijk beach flavour and a little piggy style - in just the right amounts to bring in the New Year with a bang – literally!
Our fireworks display is going to be epic and we plan on hitting the streets too, but not before we break out the bubbly. If you’re trying to escape the crowds of Amsterdam but still want to have a good time, head out to the beach. We plan to have a packed house of backpackers and our favourite locals to bring in 2011.
It might be the dead of winter, but the sun is always shining in the Flying Pig Beach Hostel. We’ve broken it down into a simple equation:
Piggies + Beach Vibe + You = Lekker (everything that’s good in life)