What to do in Amsterdam in August

Are you gay?  Do you like films?  Do you like theater?

In short: are you a gay film-loving theater-goer?

If yes, than you are going to LOOOOVE Amsterdam in August.  This is really your time to shine in the Big Moke.

If you’re not all of the above, or not even one of the above, then fret not.  I guarantee there is still something for you to do this month!

Check it out:

1 – 5 August, Amsterdam Gay Pride (website): This festival probably needs no explanation.  It’s gay, it’s proud, and it’s back, with the famous boat parade taking place on Saturday 4 August.  (Gays on water!  What more do you need?)  The city is host to a full lineup of parties, sports, concerts, gay cinema, and a lot of educational and informative events such as Self Defense workshops, free HIV tests, and a reading and tour about Homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom.   Amsterdam is known as the most gay-friendly city in Europe, and these 5 days will show you why.

The Boat Parade is the topper on the great big gay wedding cake that is Gay Pride.

Also worth pointing out is the “openminded” Beach Party at Roest on Friday 3 August from 7 pm, called Gaywatch.  Think: beach volleyball, BBQ, and Baywatch-worthy competitions.  The DJ starts at 10pm and the party goes until 3 am.

OK, first let me get all of the movie-stuff out of the way:

until 19 August, Bioscoop op het Podium in Carre, (program found here):  Since the theater season has moved outdoors for the summer (more on that below), the Carre theater has little to do.  So it is turning into a makeshift but very beautiful cinema for August showing well-loved classics, such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show, My Fair Lady and Casablanca.  Classic movies in a classic setting- I’m pretty sure this was what movie dates were meant to be like.

Theater Carre pretends to be a movie theater for the summer

2, 3, & 4 August, Drijf in Bios voor Pampus (more info here): If you like movies, and you have a boat, then here is a very special treat indeed.  For just three nights, the nearby island of Pampus (once a fortification island made to defend Amsterdam from attack by water, now a Unesco world Heritage Site) will be hosting an outdoor cinema screen which you can only reach by boat.  No word yet on the movie lineup, but I imagine the experience here is the location more than the movie.  There’s not many places that have a drive-in movie theater on the water, so reserve ahead to make sure you get a spot!  Movies begin when the sun goes down.  For those less fortunate, you can also take an organized boat from Ijburg and watch the movie from a seat on the island.  15 euro per person for the film, 25 euro if you need to catch the organized boat as well.

Drijf in Bios voor Pampus

8 – 19 August, World Cinema Amsterdam (website):  Only two years young, this film festival celebrates the underdogs in the film world far from Hollywood- those films comnig out of Latin America, Asia and Africa.  With 2 indoor locations (Rialto and De Balie) and two outdoor locations (Marie Heinekenplein and Vondelpark) and 48 films and shorts, there is a wealth of choice.  This year the festival will be focusing extra attention on Brazilian Stories.  The free movies on Marie Heinekenplein are between 15 to 19 August, so go early and grab a chickpea burger at Restaurant Barca nearby (they’re delicious!).

World Cinema Amsterdam

22 August – 1 September, Pluk de Nacht (the website still needs to be updated with the 2012 program) More open air cinema- Pluk de Nacht is back!  (It means ‘Seize the Night’, although the official English name is the less-interesting sounding ‘Open Air Film Festival’)  Every night a new programme of short films and feature length independent films is shown behind Central Station, with the water at your back. And it’s FREE! Bring your bottle of wine and some snacks, and don’t forget some comfortable beach chairs or blankets.  If you have spare time, get there early to snag a good spot, because this is a popular festival.

Pluk de Nacht- get there early to Pluk a chair.

Every Saturday evening in August, Open Air Films at the Ketelhuis (website):  Hey, do you know what nobody thought of this summer?  Outdoor movies!  Or no, wait….everyone did.  Including the Ketelhuis in Westerpark!  Every Saturday evening in August, starting when the sun goes down, a recent film will be shown on the outdoor big screen.  Perfect way to end a picnic day or to prolong one that you don’t want to end.  On the 25th there is a special surprise film chosen by mega-blogger and Friend of V Nalden from Nalden.net.  The man’s got good taste, so I’d definitely try and catch that one if I were you.

Openlucht Cinema at Ketelhuis

31 August, Cinema Curioso (website): In what sounds like a helluva funny night for film-lovers, the EYE Film Institute will be showing two hours of film clips featuring the Best of the Worst in B-movie History.  They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and so welcome to Cinema Hell where directors of film flops such as ‘Papaya: Love Goddess of the Cannibals’ and ‘Yog: The Space Amoebe’ really did have good intentions!  Honest!  These clips will be accompanied with live commentary from a movie scholar, so if you’re a fan of the bizarre, come and get your fill.  And if that isn’t enough to entice you, let me try this: rampaging pygmie terrors!  Yeah, exactly.  See you there.

Yog: The Space Amoeba wants you to come to Cinema Curioso!

And if the Pluk de Nacht, Ketelhuis, World Cinema, Drijf in de Bios, Cinema Curioso, and Carre Cinema wasn’t enough movie for you, then stop by the Stadsarchief basement film hall during the whole month of August to see a selection of films about Amsterdam in the 1900s – 1920s.  This collection of news clips, street shots and commercials runs on a constant loop until 5 pm, so drop by whenever you are in the neighborhood and get a feel for what life was like here before you were even a thought in your grandparent’s heads.


OK now that all things cinema is out of the way, here are some things to do in August that don’t involve the silver screen:

FOAM has some really great exhibitions going on throughout the summer, including one from the Father of Paparazzi Ron Galella (go so you can love to hate him, like the celebs!), and another from Erik Kessels on the death of the photoalbum in today’s hard drive world (the photo album is dead, long live the photo album!).

‘Album Beauty’ by Erik Kessels in FOAM

1 – 31 August, Return of the Swing Club at Mediamatic (website): If there’s one thing that naturally goes hand in hand, it would be summer and swings.  So how appropriate that Mediamatic have once again set up the swings in their Oostenburgereiland factory.  Pay your 2 euro and have a go.  This time they have even added more gymnastics equipment like a trampoline, and a trapeze for the really brave.

Swing the summer away at Mediamatic Fabriek

1 – 4 August, Comedy Train at Toomler (lineup here): Every year the Toomler comedy club hosts English-speaking comedians from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US.  These are some of the best in the English-speaking world, so go get your funny on.  (And check here first to see if you can’t snag some last minute tickets!)

The International Comedy Train makes the last stop at Toomler for the summer this week. Don’t miss it! Choo-choo!

every Saturday afternoon, Boom Chicago’s Deep Undercover (more info here):  I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for two things in life: games and chocolate.  This outdoor theater event has absolutely nothing to do with chocolate (sadly), but everything to do with games!  This is a play that you, as an audience member, take part in.  Armed with only a cell phone number, you call on the day of the play to see where you have to go, and then follow the clues from there.  Think of it as “Moving Street Theater”, and just go with the flow.

Boom Chicago takes theater to the streets

10 – 19 August, Grachten Festival (website):  This much-loved festival along Amsterdam’s historic canals brings a touch of class to the city each year.   Featuring well-known classical music artists as well as up-and-coming talent in the classical world at indoor and outdoor venues across the city, the best ones to catch are, of course, the free concerts along the water.  There are also workshops on how to make your own instruments at the library, and a special show not ON the water but UNDER the water!  Each year has a theme, and this year that theme is LOVE.  And who doesn’t love love, right?

Classical music in lovely settings during the Grachtenfestival,

10 – 26 August, De Parade (website): a street music and theater festival taking place in Martin Luther King Park. This travelling festival has a little something for everyone, even if that something is, say….a post-apocalyptic story inspired by Elvis, rockabilly, and 50’s music.  See?   Something for everyone. Expect music, theater, a few antique carnival rides, tents, shows and food, and there is a special program just for children.

De Parade travels through Amsterdam again.

Hi!  In the eternal words of Laser 3.14, Are you (still) reading me?!!?  If so then I applaud your efforts.  Just a bit more to tell you…

12 August (Amstelpark) & 26 August (Park Frankendael), Pure Markt, (website) This Sunday market is for real food lovers and purists.  If you are the kind of person who likes your food local, your mushrooms straight from the forest, or your waste composted by worms, then this is the conscious market for you.  But this isn’t just a hippie thing! Artisenal cakes and breads, handmade crafts, woodoven pizzas are all also on the agenda, plus much more.

Pure Market for Food Lovers, not just for Hippies!

17 – 19 August Hartjesdagen op Zeedijk (more info here and here): This special festival in the Zeedijk has to be seen to be believed.  With roots going back as far as the Middle Ages, the new purpose of this festival is to celebrate the Zeedijk neighborhood- once a place where no one wanted to live, now a colorful neighborhood where something is always going on.   There is a contest for Best Dressed Man and Best Dressed Woman, so you can imagine that this brings out even more color in the area during these three days.  Grab your hot pink wig and make a show out of it.  Who knows, you might even win a prize!

Hartjesdagen in Zeedijk…color is only the half of it!

Sunday 19 August, Moderne Hippies present Summer Love (website): A market (restyled vintage, bags, shoes, illustrations), workshops on how to be a modern hippie (beach yoga, raw food, hula hooping, you know the deal), and a DIY barbeque, all at Roest on a (hopefully) warm summer Sunday.

23 – 29 August, Summer Dance Forever (website): Admit it, many is the time you were home on a weekend day and caught yourself absorbed in America’s Next Best Dance Crew on MTV, thinking, “I could do that….my robot isn’t so bad…”.  Well now here is your chance to watch and even learn, because this weeklong festival is all things street dance- from hiphop to house, reggae to funk.  Well-known dancers from all over the world will converge on Amsterdam to battle it out, put on a show, and to show you how too.

24, 25 & 26 August, Uitmarkt (website) The start of the cultural season.  On-your-mark-get-set-GO!  Spread all over the city, each theater and venue will be showing you a taste test of what the season has in store.  The perfect time for culture junkies to get their fix.

Uitmarkt, Set, Go!

24 August (to 16 September) Magneet Festival (website): The Magneet Festival is a three week spectacle.  Their motto? “No spectators, only participants”, which means that you, the festival-goer, will be the main attraction!  So bring your talent, send your good idea, or just simply go with your open mind and have fun.

Magneet Festival wants YOU!

Starting 30 August, Amsterdam Fringe Festival (website): 10 days, 80 theatre groups, 33 locations , performance, live art, (music) theatre, dance & uninhibited energy from the Netherlands and the rest of the world.  Key word(s): avant-garde.  

Amsterdam Fringe Festival 2012

Now children, if I catch you at home or in your hotel room on any night in August, I hereby ban you from the city for being a culture bore.

Get out there and have a great summer!

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