Before booking our first trip to Amsterdam I endured months of hearing about this awesome metropolis from my husband, so we finally decided to go there together. Since that first trip we have visited Amsterdam a few times, giving us the opportunity to take a closer look into where, what, why and most importantly how? Last year and the year before we decided to visit for the Amsterdam Light Festival and it was truly unforgettable!
Whole Hole by Paul Vendel & Sandra de Wolf, 2017/2018
Every year from around December until the end of January, the City of Amsterdam lights up during the Amsterdam Light Festival, which revolves around a different theme each year. A prime objective of the organisers is to get a message across to the public; for winter 2018/2019 the organisers were inspired by the famous statement of Canadian social-scientist Marshall McLuhan ‘‘The medium is the message’’. I guess the first thing you are thinking about right now is what did McLuhan mean by that? What is the medium? And the most importantly, what is the message?
Well, it seems that people perhaps tend to deconstruct the sentence and search for the meaning of each word one by one, and then derive the meaning. But when I witnessed what they created in Amsterdam I was lost for words and the meaning of the phrase was not necessary anymore. No one should miss this opportunity and there are 3 excellent ways to see the artworks and displays.
Starry Night by Ivana Jelić & Pavle Petrovic, 2018/2019
Firstly, you can experience the exhibition on foot. Maybe an old fashioned way that might be pretty uncomfortable especially if you are not much of an on-foot person, although it is the best way to see each piece at your own pace. You can also book a guided walking tour or take a self-guided tour and dedicate your night time to the secrets of using light installations as art. When it comes to variety there are many different opportunities.
You can pick a walking tour that meets your specific needs and be as neat with planning as you wish to. Pick a trail with audio guidance on any night, or if you are after something exciting and you love surprises take a walking route with one of the official festival guides (through the Artifex agency) that will undoubtedly fulfill your expectations. Last year, there was also the opportunity to track the artworks along decorated canals on the 10 km or 15 km trail known as the Amsterdam Light Walk just a few days after Christmas.
10 km Amsterdam Light Walk
15 km Amsterdam Light Walk
Secondly, a bike tour – Amsterdam is known as the most bike-friendly city in Europe and even though winter time might not be right for cycling around the city, believe it or not the Netherlanders do it all year around. So, official festival guides in Amsterdam offer a guided bike tour in addition to on-foot tours. Speaking of cycling, you probably wonder how, where, what and how much. After having a great experience with Black Bikes Rental Amsterdam we can recommend them highly.
They have 14 locations in Amsterdam and more in The Haag, Harem and Utrecht which makes it easier than you think to hire a bike, pick-up and return at locations close to where you want. Just check more information on Black Bikes Rental Amsterdam here and take a dream ride in the light.
Natuurlijk Licht by Meke Vrienten, 2018/2019
Thirdly, a boat tour – how does it sound to be sailing around and underneath the artworks of the famous artists? Pretty damn good, doesn’t it! My husband and I took the option of a self-guided walking tour on our own in winter 2017/2018, so this season we decided to take advantage of the boat tour, supplied with unlimited amount of hot chocolate or mulled wine on board with cosy duvets to keep warm. The number of canal cruises in Amsterdam is huge but to feel the atmosphere of the festival like a local it takes courage to go on the open boat cruise with Stromma.
Spider on the Bridge by Groupe LAPS, 2018/2019
Open boat in winter? No way, it would be too cold! Well, it could be however, no other boat tour can provide as close a look as the open boat tour – clear view, perfect pictures, no flash reflection from the windows of a traditional closed-top, glass windowed canal boat. If you still prefer the warmth, then a heated bout tour is available also.
Prices vary and might be different every season depending on availability or discounts they may offer. The open bout tour is slightly more expensive then the covered boats but I think it is really worth it to take the advantage of the open space and fully see the exhibitions up close! Stromma open-boat tour cost us 24.50 € per person but if you want to save some money and rather keep warm you can hop on heated board for 21 € per person (again, costs might be different this coming season).
O.T. 976 by Stefan Reiss, 2018/2019
The choice is yours! I am sure that whichever boat style you pick, you will never regret it. Last year’s cruise was truly memorable because we could see for ourselves what ‘‘the message’’ by Marshall McLuhan really meant. It is not only the fact that the light is so powerful and can do what it does but also the fact that the creation of such an exhibition is possible thanks to its incredible visual power and adaptability.
This season’s open-air exhibition Disrupt 2020/2021 on a new route is ready to blow your mind with artwork of tons of incredible artists like Tom Biddulph and Barbara Ryan (‘Night Vision’, 2018/2019); UxU Studio from Taiwan (‘Desire’, 2017/2018); Peter Snijder (‘Archestertures: Portam Civitatis’, 2018/2019) and many others. Don’t waste a minute and book your tickets here.
It’s time to figure out what the message for this year is by yourselves! Get your camera ready, you will need it!!!