Essential Tips for New Year's Eve in Amsterdam

What to Expect on New Year's Eve in Amsterdam

Herengracht and Amstel River, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, New Years celebrations
••• Richard Wareham/Getty Images

New Year's Eve in Amsterdam: The basics

  • New Year's Eve is called Oud en Nieuw ("Old and New") in Dutch, in reference to the last moments of the old year and the first moments of the new. An alternative name is Oudejaarsavond, which literally just means New Year's Eve.
  • Wish your Dutch friends a happy New Year with the phrase gelukkig Nieuwjaar (approximately pronounced "huh-LOOK-uh NYOO-yahr", with the h's as in the Hebrew word Hanukkah).
  • New Year's Eve isn't a public holiday in the Netherlands, but New Year's Day is; scarcely any businesses are open on January 1.

Plan ahead

  • Book accommodations early. Amsterdam is an immensely popular New Year's Eve destination; sometimes it even seems that out-of-towners outnumber the Amsterdammers at the yearly celebrations. This means that accommodations are at a premium, so book well ahead to secure a room or dorm.
  • Find out about entry requirements beforehand. Countless bars, clubs and restaurants in Amsterdam have special New Year's Eve events, and tickets can sell out months in advance. For specific events, find out if it's necessary to reserve a spot, and do so as early as possible. Note that some venues also have additional entrance fees on New Year's Eve, even those that normally have none at all.

New Year's Eve holiday schedules

  • Check for closures and/or reduced hours. While New Year's Eve isn't a national holiday, scores of restaurants, tourist attractions and other businesses are either closed or have reduced hours on December 31. When you make your plans for the day, be sure to double-check whether all the spots on your itinerary are in fact open on New Year's Eve, even in the daytime. Expect most businesses to be closed on New Year's Day.
  • Don't be left stranded. Amsterdam public transportation stops at around 8 p.m. on New Year's Eve, and only limited bus services resume around 12 a.m. If you don't want to shell out for a taxi, make sure you're close to your New Year's destination by the time services stop. You may also want to check the GVB (Amsterdam public transit) web site to find out whether your accommodations are on one of the limited bus routes for the return trip.

    Out and about

    • Public squares = parties. Not into exclusive club parties or multi-course dinners at swanky restaurants? Join the festivities on one of the city squares, which are free to the public and located in various spots around town. Museumplein hosts the national New Year's Eve party, a televised event that draws tens of thousands with its live music and fireworks; Nieuwmarkt (in Amsterdam Chinatown) follows closely behind with its explosive celebrations. Read about this year's New Year's Eve parties in Amsterdam, both public and private, on Amsterdam Travel.
    • Keep on the lookout for errant firecrackers. The sale of fireworks is prohibited in the Netherlands - except for the few days before December 31, when the Dutch public stocks up for New Year's Eve. At 12 a.m., the city erupts in a collective cacophony of firecrackers, so watch out that you don't stumble into the line of fire!