May is a superb month to visit Amsterdam. The temperate climate means you'll be able to spend more quality time outdoors in Amsterdam's wonderful squares and parks, such as Dam Square, the Vondelpark, and Keukenhof, the seasonal tulip and bulb park. Although April is usually when the bulbs are at their peak, the park is open for most of the month of May and delivers plenty of late-season blooming beauties.
However, it's not all flowers and sunshine in May. The city draws nearer to its peak summer tourist season, particularly towards the end of the month, and airlines and accommodations commonly hike up their prices. You may also find that many of Amsterdam's top attractions can become crowded, especially on weekends, and the end of the college school year (from mid to late May) means an influx of backpackers to add to the masses. Instead of flocking to the typical attractions, make the most of your May visit and attend one of the many festivals dedicated to celebrating a wide range of musical genres.
Typical Weather Patterns
Expect warm, but not hot weather in Holland this month. Long pants and a light jacket will suffice during the day, but bring a heavier coat for the chillier evenings.
- Average high: 63F
- Average low: 45 F
- Average precipitation: 2.4 inches
2018 Festivals and Events
There is no shortage of events happening throughout the city this month, and many are held outside in order to enjoy the late spring weather.
- The Dutch Memorial Day (Dodenherdenking) commemorates the soldiers and civilians who perished in World War II, subsequent wars, and peace missions. Hundreds participate in a "silent tour" (Stille Tocht) from Museumplein to Dam Square, where the Queen and prince place a wreath on the National Monument. At 8'o clock in the evening, two minutes of silence is observed by all Dutch citizens.
- Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag) is held on May 5 and is a nationwide celebration of the Netherlands' emancipation from Nazi Germany by Allied troops in 1945. In contrast to the mourning on May 4th, this holiday is celebrated instead with concerts, art exhibits, and more taking place throughout the city.
- Taking place on May 5th each year, Bevrijdingspop is a free "Liberation Pop" festival that takes place in nearby Haarlem, whose pristine Frederikspark is taken over by musicians, music lovers, and stalls selling wares from visual artists, local restaurants, and artisans.
- Indiestad has become an Amsterdam institution. While not technically a May festival, Indiestad offers music lovers an amazing deal. By purchasing an Indiestadpass for just 25 euros, you will have access to 52 concerts throughout the year. Even if you are only visiting for a few days, at this price, seeing one or two shows is worth the pass price alone, and you will get to experience new, exciting artists.
- London Calling is a semi-annual music festival showcases the best new alternative rock artists from the United Kingdom. Scottish indie band Franz Ferdinand made their Dutch debut at this festival back in 2003. For the 2018 event, which will be held at the Paradiso Amsterdam theater on May 25th and 26th, headliners include Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Yungblud, Husky Loops, Loma, Bodega, Porridge Radio, Velvet Volume, Warmduscher, Mattiel, and more.
- Moulin Blues International Blues & Roots Festival has been the Netherlands' premier blues festival for over 30 years. Held in the southeastern town of Ospel (about one and half hours from Amsterdam) since 1986, this year's festival on May 4th and 5th will feature international acts like Kim Wilson, Nick Moss Band, Eric Gales, Bette Smith, Monster Mike Welsch, and many more.
- SoccerRocker is a truly unique event where amateur soccer teams compete to the soundtrack of live alternative pop and rock bands. While it was traditionally held in May, the organizers pushed it back a month in 2018, and it will take place on June 2nd and 3rd. Headliners will include Fata Boom, Los Paja Brava, Komodo, Fungo Bat, Mooon, Tusky, and Kiss All Hipsters.
- The Beeld voor Beeld Film Festival, like SoccerRocker, has been moved to a different month this year and will commence in April. The festival showcases documentary films and is held at Amsterdam's Tropics Museum, which explores cultural diversity through cinema. Filmmakers, both students, and professionals join in to discuss cultural themes with the audience. The films showcased in 2018 include Cobain, In Freedom, and Fall a Man from the Air.
- Amsterdam Open Air has also been pushed back for 2018 and will take place on June 2nd and 3rd. This outdoor electronic (EDM) music festival held each year in Gaasperpark recreation park entices audiences to get up and dance and focuses on Amsterdam's most popular musical acts.