Learn Some Dutch
New Year's Eve is called Oud en Nieuw, which means old and new in Dutch, in reference to the last moments of the old year and the first moments of the new. Another name is Oudejaarsavond, which literally just means New Year's Eve. Impress your Dutch friends by wishing them a happy new year using the phrase Gelukkig Nieuwjaar.
Celebrate in the Squares
All you have to do to find the party in Amsterdam is to look for the nearest public squares. These city square celebrations are free to the public and located in various spots around town. The Museumplein public space in the Museumkwartier neighborhood is the location of the national New Year's Eve party, a televised event that draws tens of thousands of partiers with its live music and fireworks and the Nieuwmarkt square, in Amsterdam's Chinatown, follows closely behind with its explosive celebrations.
Book Lodging in Advance
If you plan on visiting Amsterdam for New Year's Eve make your hotel or hostel reservations well in advance. Amsterdam is an immensely popular New Year's Eve destination; sometimes it seems like out-of-towners outnumber the Amsterdammers at the yearly celebrations. Accommodations are at a premium, so don't delay making your reservations.
Keep an Eye Out for Fireworks
Keep on the lookout for impromptu firecrackers. The sale of fireworks is prohibited in The Netherlands, except for December 29 through 31 when the Dutch stock up for New Year's Eve. At midnight, everyone pours into the streets and the city erupts in a collective cacophony of firecrackers, so be careful not to stumble into the line of fire and consider packing some earplugs.
Check Entry Fees
If you're planning on going out to a bar or club, find out about venue 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.
Research Holiday Schedules
Check for closures or reduced hours. Although 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 midnight. 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) website to find out whether your accommodations are on one of the limited bus routes for the return trip.