Every year from the end of November until mid January, the canals of Amsterdam are illuminated in a most intriguing way. Street lamps and Christmas decorations may also cast a warm glow upon the city, however it’s the installations of the Amsterdam Light Festival that really steal the show. Brightening up the dark days of winter, this must-see event calls upon artists, designers and architects to develop installations that will be displayed in, on, over or next to the waterways of Amsterdam.
How it all began
The history of the Amsterdam Light Festival can be traced back all the way to the 1920s, when light art was popular throughout Europe. Atmospheric lights illuminated the Amsterdam canals up until the 1990s; but it was only with the foundation of the Amsterdam Light Festival by Felix Guttmann, Rogier van der Heide and Raymond Borsboom in 2012 that light art and light installations became an annual tradition. Since then, the festival has enjoyed yearly editions with changing displays, showcasing local and international artists, and drawing large crowds from around the world.
Disrupt!: This year’s open air exhibition
This year’s 8th edition is set up to be another major success. With the theme Disrupt!, twenty artists were challenged to question, test and shake up the city. They used this year’s theme to transform the city’s architecture with lights, creating entirely new surroundings to amaze the public. Apparently one key question to emerge from Disrupt! is that of climate change and how humans disturb the natural environment – and vice versa: how natural events can interrupt the structure of our society. It will be interesting to see how the artists interpret this particular challenge.
Spectators can look forward to a variety of breathtaking light installations from established and up-and-coming designers, like by the lighting architect Har Hollands or by the design duo Tom Biddulph & Barbara Ryan, who created an eerie installation nearfor one of Amsterdam’s iconic canal bridges. Watch artworks with names like “Atlantis” and “Big Bang” come to life as you drift along the canals and let the splendour of this one-of-a-kind event sink in.
Are you coming to Amsterdam to enjoy the Light Festival this year? Then be sure to plan your attendance in advance. Head over to the official website to arrange the specifics and book a tour. The event runs from 28 November 2019 until 19 January 2020 and sells out quickly, so be sure to reserve your spot with one of the canal boat companies.