Museumnacht in Amsterdam: Museum-Hop Until 2 a.m. on 'Museum Night' in November


Museumnacht Overview:

  • When: First Saturday in November (annually), from about 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. (2011 date: November 5)

  • Where: At more than 40 museums all over Amsterdam.

  • What: One of Amsterdam's most unique annual events, and certainly one of my favorites. On "Museum Night," dozens of Amsterdam museums offer special, themed events and performances during unorthodox hours -- most run between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. Programs include everything from DJs, jazz concerts and dance performances to poetry readings, unusual tours and interactive workshops. Most of the museums also offer food and drinks aligned with their themes on Museumnacht.
    • Why: Taking part in Museumnacht isn't only an opportunity for visitors to see Amsterdam museums in ways (and during hours) they've never seen them before, it's also a great way to see many different areas of the city and experience the overall festive feel that comes with locals out celebrating the wide-reaching culture of their own city.

    Tickets for Museumnacht:

    If possible, it's best to buy tickets for Museumnacht ahead of time to avoid lines and get the cheaper price (usually about € 17). Presales typically last until about 5:30 p.m. on the day of the event and are available at specific outlets named on the official Museumnacht website. These outlets usually include:

    • Amsterdam Uitburo (Cultural Office) Ticketshop near Leidseplein
    • Amsterdam Tourist Offices (called "VVV")

    On the evening of Museumnacht (after about 5:30 p.m.), the tickets are a few euros more expensive and are only available at the Amsterdam Uitburo Ticketshop and the Centraal Station branch of the Amsterdam Tourist Office (VVV).

    Museumnacht tickets include entrance to all (about 40) participating museums, free transportation on trams and special Museumnacht boats, as well as one extra visit to a participating museum on a different day, valid until the end of the calendar year.

    Note: Your Museumjaarkart (Museum Year Card) or "I amsterdam Card" will not be valid for free entry to participating museums once Museumnacht begins; you must buy a separate Museumnacht ticket.

    Museumnacht Crowds and Lines:

    Be prepared to wait in lines on Museumnacht, but start your cultural adventure early to avoid thick crowds. Most programs start at about 7 p.m., so why not take advantage the time when a lot of others will be out to dinner?

    When you buy tickets, you'll receive a handy map of all the participating museums. Plan out your journey around the city to make the most of your time. A good idea is to start at the museum farthest from your hotel and work your way back.

    Museums and attractions that always seem to have the biggest crowds or longest lines include the Portuguese Synagogue (it seems everyone wants to see the candlelit interior, as the temple has no electricity) and the Karl Appel Foundation (it's not very big).

    More Information on Museumnacht:

    You can find the full Museumnacht program online beginning sometime in early October. As a lot of the information is in Dutch, a great resource is English-language monthly Time Out Amsterdam.

    Museumnacht Dates for the Next Five Years:

    Museumnacht always falls on the first Saturday of November.

    • 2011: November 5
    • 2012: November 3
    • 2013: November 2
    • 2014: November 1
    • 2015: November 7

    'n8' Explained:

    In the weeks leading up to Museumnacht, posters around Amsterdam feature the abbreviation: n8.

    This is a play on the Dutch word for "night," which is nacht. The Dutch word for the number "eight" is acht. So, "n" + "8" = nacht. Have a great n8 in Amsterdam!