Widely known for a rowdy scene on New Year's Eve, Amsterdam's approach to the once-a-year blowout is fittingly "live and let live."
This is an overview of what to expect on December 31 in Amsterdam. For specific events, see my list of 2010/2011 New Year's Eve parties in Amsterdam
Out with the 'Oud':
New Year's Eve in Amsterdam is called Oudjaarsdag or Oudjaarsavond -- "Old Year's Day" and "Old Year's Evening," respectively.
You might also see and hear December 31 referred to as Oud en Nieuw, or "Old and New."
Whatever you call it, if you're celebrating the end of a year (and welcoming a new one) in Amsterdam, you're in for a memorable party.
So practice saying gelukkig nieuwjaar ("prosperous new year") and find the right revelry for you.
Citywide Free-for-All and Fireworks:
So where's the biggest New Year's Eve party in Amsterdam? The city streets, of course! The streets and squares of central Amsterdam are filled with throngs of people (mostly tourists) -- especially at Dam Square, Rembrandtplein, Nieuwmarkt and Leidseplein. Try the fun, funky Jordaan neighborhood and the cafés of the Western Canal Ring
for a more local feel. It seems almost everyone has a bottle of Champagne in tow -- and if they don't, they're lighting fireworks.
Ask someone who's been to Amsterdam for New Year's Eve what they remember most about the experience and they'll likely say, "Fireworks...everywhere!" As soon as it's dark, kids (and kids at heart) start shooting, throwing and lighting all sorts of crackers, bangers and sparklers. And while it's all in the name of fun, in the more crowded touristy areas, it can be downright dangerous. So, be warned and take cover -- or take part!
Locations of organized fireworks displays vary from year to year, but usually take place at Dam Square, Nieuwmarkt and/or Rembrandtplein. These squares and the streets around them are packed. Nieuwmarkt is especially wild, as this is the heart of the Chinese community in Amsterdam and the fireworks are plentiful.
If you prefer to watch the fireworks from a calmer locale, the bridges throughout the city are perfect vantage points -- especially the ones over the Amstel River like the Magere Brug, or "skinny bridge."
Bars, Clubs, Music and Parties:
If you like your celebrations a little more organized, there are always plenty of parties to choose from at Amsterdam clubs, bars and music venues. See my list of New Year's Eve Parties in Amsterdam
for updated information each year.
See for Yourself: