Amsterdam has just emerged from a two-week deep freeze. While I’m glad the worst of the winter seems to be over, I can’t help but feel a bit sad about losing a quiet, peaceful, deserted Amsterdam. I guess you could say I’m feeling a bit possessive; getting to experience Amsterdam the way not a lot of visitors do makes it feel a little more like “my” city.
Leidseplein and Leidsestraat are almost always choked with tourists. Even the trams sound stressed when they’re trying to squeeze through this narrow pass. But the January cold kept the hordes away, and for once walking here was actually kind of nice. Especially with music from the Once soundtrack played by one determined, cold-resistant busker.
This is a bit like the calm before the storm, because Amsterdam is gearing up for a big year. For starters, 2013 marks the 400th anniversary of the Canal Belt, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a year-long calendar of events. Plus, the Rijksmuseum, the Netherlands’ national museum with over 8,000 pieces of art, is finally set to reopen in April after 10 years (!) of renovation.
Finally, it will be the last time Queen’s Day—also known as the biggest party in the country—will take place on these canals. That’s because on April 30, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands will officially step down from her throne and hand over the crown to her son, Prince Willem-Alexander, who will become the Netherlands’ first king in 123 years.
Queen Beatrix’s abdication means the end of Queen’s Day; from next year onwards, it becomes King’s Day on April 27. So I’m sure this Queen’s Day—the same day as the inauguration of the new King—will be one to remember. I wouldn’t want to miss it… even if I’ll be sleep-deprived and nursing a newborn by then.
So wait, why was I so morose? It’s actually a great year to visit Amsterdam! My advice is, book early, especially if you’re planning to come for Queen’s Day. If you’re looking for hotels, try here. And if you ever need any local tips (like where to find the yummiest apple pie in Amsterdam, or the best place to eat in the culinary void that is Leidseplein), I’m just an email away!
For more information about Amsterdam in 2013, check out this link.