Each year, countless Amsterdammers hit the town to celebrate Oud en Nieuw - "Old and New", better known as New Year's Eve - be it with the famous city-wide street parties that take over the public squares, or more intimate affairs with family and friends. Find the New Year's Eve event that will see you into 2012 with the ideas below, and don't miss these tips on what to expect on New Year's Eve in Amsterdam to learn all about the local customs that surround this memorable last day of the year.
Parties on the Public Squares - Museumplein & More
The canonical New Year's Eve experience is Amsterdam's own version of the Times Square countdown: the national New Year's Eve party (nationale Oud en Nieuwfeest) on Museumplein (Museum Square) that is broadcast to millions of home viewers on Dutch TV channel SBS6. There's no crystal-studded ball, but the monumental square becomes the scene of an all-out street party complete with the only official fireworks spectacular in the city. (Take note: Private possession of fireworks is not allowed on the square!) Upwards of 40,000 revelers descend on the square each year for the live music and performances that kick off at 9 p.m. and last into the new year.
Smaller-scale, but no less festive parties take place on public squares across the city, such as the immensely popular celebrations on the Nieuwmarkt, the main square in Amsterdam Chinatown - a district whose penchant for fireworks is widely known, thanks to the Chinese New Year festivities held there annually in late January or early February. Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein will also be in on the action, with music-driven celebrations both indoor and outdoors. (Note that presale tickets for many club parties are a must on New Year's Eve!)
BovenNEMO, Science Center NEMO's own rooftop terrace, will also be open for visitors to take in panoramic views of the firework-illuminated sky. This and all the above-mentioned outdoor parties are free to the public.
New Year's Eve Events at Amsterdam Bars & Clubs
Retro-themed parties abound this New Year's Eve. Great Balls of Fire at cultural center Felix Meritis harks back to the days of Jerry Lee Lewis with a 1950s school prom for adults (€ 65 - 69 presale, € 75 - 79 at the door), while Paradiso will conjure the atmosphere of the Whisky a Go Go with its own '60s themed dance party (€ 25). Those who are content to revisit the more recent past can head to Panama*'s We All Love '80s & '90s (€ 40 presale); here revelers have the option to fuel up beforehand with the special four- and five-course NYE menus (€ 75 and € 82.50, respectively).
Restaurants with Special New Year's Eve Menus
While some restaurants close their doors on New Year's Eve, the restaurants below take the opportunity to treat their last customers of the year to special New Year's Eve prix fixe menus. Others still will be open for business as usual; check the Christmas 2011 section on Dinnersite.nl to find restaurants that are open on New Year's Eve, Day, and other winter holidays.
- Restaurant d'Theeboom - This fine French restaurant offers a three-course prix fixe menu (€ 50; drinks not included) for diners to savor inside the retrofitted walls of a former cheese warehouse.
- Restaurant Keizersgracht 238 - Start with this canal-side restaurant's three-course succession of shellfish, pheasant and a "dessert parade" (€ 92.50; extra € 35 for wines), then head down to the Pulizer Bar to count down the last minutes of the year.
- Seven Seas at the Grand Hotel Amrâth - Diners can feast on a seven-course, seafood-lead menu (€ 125; extra € 55 for wines) to the sound of live music, then watch from the hotel rooftop as the sky erupts into fireworks at 12 a.m.
- Vinkeles - Leave the old year on a decadent note with the New Year's Eve menu (€ 160; extra € 75 for wines) of the Michelin-starred Vinkeles, which serves refined French cuisine inside the Dylan Hotel.