Art Culture

Light festivals in The Netherlands you have to experience

Amsterdam Light Festival, Light Festivals in The Netherlands |

Winter in The Netherlands, not a good time to visit, you think? Think again! Because winter in The Netherlands is the time for ice skating in the middle of ancient cities, enjoying a mulled wine with your bitterball and of course, experiencing some of the world most cutting-edge light festivals. You really shouldn’t miss these 4 light festivals in The Netherlands.

Amsterdam Light Festival

The Light Festival has been a (literal) highlight for the winter season. Since 7 years Dutch and international experimental artists have created breathtaking light sculptures on and around the canals of Amsterdam, on the Amstel river and at selected locations in the city. Wander around, rent a bike or hop on a boat to see enjoy Amsterdam Light Festival to the fullest.

Amsterdam Light festival | Your Dutch Guide

Amsterdam Light Festival | Your Dutch Guide

Amsterdam Light Festival | Your Dutch Guide

How to experience Amsterdam Light Festival?

  • Amsterdam Light Festival is held from the end of November until the end of January.
  • See a sneak peek of what light installations you can expect on the website.
  • To enjoy the festival from the water (and I highly recommend that), join one of the boat tours. It’s wise to book ahead, as these tours are immensely popular.
  • If you’d rather conquer the festival by bike, so you can also explore the installations in more remote spots away from the water, rent a bike. It only sets you back €10 a day.
  • Plan your trip using my ultimate Alternative Guide to Amsterdam.

GLOW Eindhoven

Eindhoven is the Dutch city of light. Literally, as for decades, it was the world leader of production of light bulbs, as Philips calls Eindhoven its home. Therefore, light and Eindhoven are strongly connected. Also, Eindhoven is the capital of Dutch Design. And being both the capital of light and the capital of Dutch Design is the perfect combination for hosting a yearly light festival: GLOW. Yearly, around 35 light artists create their installation around a specific theme, forming a cutting edge light route through the city centre of Eindhoven.

Light festivals The Netherlands, GLOW Eindhoven | Your Dutch Guide

Light festivals The Netherlands, GLOW Eindhoven | Your Dutch Guide

How to experience GLOW Eindhoven?

Maastricht Light Route

If you’d like to visit a proper Christmas market in The Netherlands, I highly recommend you hop on a train in Amsterdam and travel to the most southern tip of the country and spend a few days in Maastricht. Every advent season, Maastricht turns into something magical.

The giant heart of the city, Vrijhof, is turned into one of the largest Christmas markets in The Netherlands and the historical heart, and the more contemporary quarter on the other side of the Meuse river is lit up magically. And Maastricht has been doing this before light festivals were even a thing. The Light Route takes you along the most famous sights of Maastricht, the most beautiful shops and the best restaurants. A good reason to follow those fairy lights.

Light Festivals The Netherlands, Maastricht in winter | Your Dutch Guide

Maastricht Light Route, Light Festivals The Netherlands | Your Dutch Guide

How to experience the Maastricht Light Route

  • Check out the website for the yearly route. You can open the route on your phone (or tablet) or print a PDF.
  • If you’re curious about Maastricht: here’s where you eat, shop and sleep in Maastricht.
  • Did you know Maastricht has the most beautiful (and award winning) bookshop in the world? Hint: it’s inside a 13th century church!
  • Plan your trip to Maastricht using my complete city guide.

Trajectum Lumen Utrecht

Now, I wouldn’t be a good Dutch Guide if I didn’t sneakily tried to lure you to my hometown. But seriously, Trajectum Lumen in Utrecht is something you definately have to see for yourself. First of all, you can experience Trajectum Lumen year round, you can take a guided tour or download the app and follow the route of light yourself.

Trajectum Lumen is an ode to the rich history of Utrecht, with a growing number of art installations by local and international artists. These artworks illuminate the cities past, present and future and will make you pay attention to some spectacular historical buildings or canal wharfs that you wouldn’t even notice in daylight.

Light festivals The Netherlands, Trajectum Lumen Utrecht | Your Dutch Guide

Trajectum Lumen Utrecht (photo by Merijn van der Vliet) | Your Dutch Guide

How to experience Trajectum Lumen in Utrecht

  • You can experience Trajectum Lumen year round, the installations come to life after the sun sets. So whenever you’re in Utrecht: join!
  • Either download the free app or join a tour to find the installations and get to know the stories behind them.
  • Utrecht is only 20 minutes from Amsterdam by train and truly and utterly Dutch. Come on over and discover Utrecht by foot, bike and boat.
  • Wanna see some Dutch UNESCO world heritage? Visit the Rietveld Schröder House.
  • Ready for a beer after all that walking? Check out the Utrecht craft beer guide.
  • Plan your trip to Utrecht using my complete city guide.

Celebrate winter in The Netherlands

  • Eindhoven, Utrecht and Maastricht are easily reached by train. Trains to these cities run every 15 to 30 minutes from Amsterdam Central Station. Buy an OV Chip Card, which you can charge as you go, to travel on all public transport in The Netherlands. Check your timetables here.
  • There’s so much more going on in winter than just Christmas markets and light festivals. Read about all the winter festivals in The Netherlands.

Light festivals in The Netherlands that you should experience | Your Dutch Guide

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  • Reply
    Lisa | Handmade in Israel
    November 10, 2018 at 10:03 am

    How wonderful! We have a big light festival in Jerusalem every June and I always try to get there. It is such fun to wander around and see the installations. The church in Eindhoven looks amazing.

  • Reply
    Wendy Maes
    November 10, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    I have been to all, except for the one in Utrecht. It’s magic!

  • Reply
    November 10, 2018 at 11:55 pm

    Beautiful photos!! You did a tremendous job on all these photos – especially considering how difficult they must be to photograph. I love capturing cities at night, and I think any of these festivals would be magical to experience! #TheWeeklyPostcard

  • Reply
    November 11, 2018 at 4:15 am

    I love a good light festival. And these all look wonderful. I was in Amsterdam in February about 7 years ago and I just wish they had them then.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2018 at 4:46 am

    I believe the Netherlands are great to visit at any time. I would prefer spring, but I’d love to come in winter as well and see these light festivals. They must look amazing in real life! #THeWeeklyPostcard

  • Reply
    Elaine Masters
    November 11, 2018 at 5:10 am

    I love these festivals and the technology that makes them possible. Would love to see these in the Netherlands.

  • Reply
    Rhonda Albom
    November 11, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Light festivals and art installations have seemed to pop up all over the world. Winter is a great time for them as there are more hours of darkness. I wonder if they are an extension of holiday decorations? I love projected light installations as they ‘repurpose’ buildings and walls for a completely different visualisation. The sculptures on the water in Amsterdam are also quite beautiful.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Love light festivals, I only saw a little bit of Utrecht’s last year. These photos are fantastic! Hope to visit Eindhoven and Maastricht next time. Will definitely have to go back.

  • Reply
    Jessica Norah
    November 11, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    The light festivals and winter events look nice in the Netherlands – I especially like the GLOW festival photos. I agree that winter can be a magical time to visit many European cities, as long as you are wrapped up well against the cold 😉

  • Reply
    November 14, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    I didn’t realize there are so many different light festivals in the Netherlands! I was (coincidentally) in Amsterdam for the opening of the Amsterdam light festival last year. The opening ceremony was so fun!

  • Reply
    Lydia C. Lee
    November 15, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    That is beautiful!!! WOW

  • Reply
    November 16, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    I’d love to see the light festival in Amsterdam, it looks amazing. We were in Utrecht last year at strolled around the Trajectum Lumen using the self-guided app. It’s really interesting, I like the way it is continually evolving and there all year around. #farawayfiles

  • Reply
    November 18, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    I absolutely love everything about this. We do have some evening light experiences here in LA, but nothing city wide. This is very magical! Thank you for sharing on #farawayfiles I’m putting this experience on my travel wish list.

  • Reply
    November 19, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    I have been to Amsterdam three times and all three have been in Aug/early Sept! I would love to visit in the winter (preferably Christmas season) to experience this light festival. I just know it would be a totally different yet wonderful experience. I like that they have the festival running so long through those tough darkest days of the year.

  • Reply
    November 20, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    What a lovely guide! I have to hold up my hand and say I’m not a fan of winter, but these beautiful light festivals definitely make things a little better. I’d love to experience one of these myself…

  • Reply
    December 13, 2018 at 2:06 pm

    One of the reason that we have visit the Netherlands for 4 times by now, is the Light Festival, a very good experience to enjoy!

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