One of the most popular considerations for readers of this site is when to visit Amsterdam. I have a sentimental preference for February, since it was in this month that I first set foot in a snow-dusted Amsterdam, and it couldn't have been lovelier. The major tourist attractions weren't deserted by any means, but there was a comfortable level of crowdedness. Amsterdammers also have plenty of tasty devices to keep themselves warm, and I followed suit with hot cocoa pauses on the bare Museumplein (Museum Square) and fondue at a local Swiss enclave.
The cultural arts season was in session, so my Valentine's Day plans included a spectacularly cosmic production of Tannhäuser courtesy of De Nederlandse Opera. Peak season visitors can keep their warm weather (and pricier airfare and accommodations ... and formidable queues for attractions ...) - as far as I'm concerned, February is a wonderful month to see Amsterdam, either for the first time or as a seasoned visitor. Compare this to other advice and events for traveling Amsterdam throughout the year.
- Airfares and hotel rates reach a low in February, as companies try to attract customers with competitive rates
- The tourist crowds are also at their yearly low, so February visitors have the run of Amsterdam's popular museums, attractions and more
- February is Amsterdam's coldest month; expect temperatures below zero in addition to preciptiation (mostly rain; snow is infrequent). See February Temperatures & Rain, below
February Temperatures & Rain
- Average high: 42°F (5.5°C)
- Average low: 31°F (-0.5°C)
- Average precipitation: 1.9 in (69 mm)
Yearly Amsterdam Festivals & Events in February
Chinese New Year
Annually in late January or February
Amsterdam's Chinese community recreates an authentic Chinese New Year celebration every year on the Nieuwmarkt, the heart of Amsterdam Chinatown.
The festivities feature a traditional lion's dance and spectacular fireworks, and the Nieuwmarkt itself is covered in stalls and street artists for revelers to enjoy.
While tokens of this non-native holiday have crept into the Netherlands, it's not widely celebrated. But for Valentines who wish to celebrate abroad, here are some ideas for romantic activities in Amsterdam, or tips on how to create an intimate Dutch dinner for Valentine's Day from About.com's Guide to Dutch Food. And don't miss the excuse to sample some of the best chocolatiers in Amsterdam!
Selected February Events Outside Amsterdam
See event websites for this year's visitor information.
De Koninck Blues Festival Delft
Blues musicians take over more than thirty venues in Delft's picturesque Old Town for a few days each February. Performances are free; blues workshops and lectures carry a modest fee. Find visitor information for Delft (ca. 40 minutes from Amsterdam) here on Amsterdam Travel.
Holland Flower Festival
This yearly flower festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors with its spectacle of the beloved bulb flowers - tulips and more - that the Netherlands is celebrated for. Each edition zeroes in on a different country for its yearly theme; 2012 will be dedicated to the rich cultures of India.
A fixed-fee shuttle bus service whisks visitors from Hoorn train station (30 minutes from Amsterdam CS) to the festival's Middenmeer location.
Ice Sculpture Festival
Each year in Roermond (ca. two hours from Amsterdam by train), some 50 artists craft a bevvy of sculptures from ice and snow, which are kept cool in a 2,500 m² thermal tent that must be seen to be believed. But dress warm: the temperature in the exhibition space is 17.6°F (8°C) below zero!