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Amsterdam is a major destination for New Year revelers. This guide is to help you prepare for and enjoy the occasion to the full.
On New Years Eve (NYE) the streets of Central Amsterdam are packed with people who are here to enjoy themselves. Fireworks abound, drink flows and the vast majority of people have a great time. Given the numbers however, it is often wise to plan in advance. Hotels, bars, restaurants and clubs are invariably packed. They charge premium prices and are often fully booked some time ahead.
Many people are happy simply to hit the streets. The whole of Central Amsterdam becomes one big party zone. For the past few years, there was a major event at Museumplein. At the time of writing (Sep 13) I have not heard one way or the other if it this will also be the case this year. That aside, the biggest crowds will be found in and around the other city squares. In particular Nieuwmarkt and Dam Square itself.
Here are some top tips:
- Book your accommodation well in advance. Prices may seem steep when you try to do this. Experience shows that rooms only get more scarce and expensive as the night itself approaches.
- Most decent restaurants will be booked well ahead of time. Many are closed. Don't expect to be able to call a day or two ahead and secure a table. The list of those that do open varies from year to year. Your Destination Experts simply cannot keep track of them. Google is your friend in this respect. Do your own research and make your own choice.
- Every bar in town will be packed. From around 7pm until the small hours expect it to be standing room only if you even manage to get into a bar. This is not the night to pop out for a quiet drink. Many bars will even charge for admission, this is usually around €20 per person.
- Young children should be kept well clear. Lots of people wielding fireworks, many of whom are the worse for wear. Will only serve to intimidate them. Besides, it simply isn't safe.
- You will not be able to walk into any club. They all run ticket only nights and usually get booked up long in advance. If clubbing is your thing, make plans and be prepared to pay top whack. A guide to what's on can be found here
or here or here. This is a good blog that tells you about what Amsterdam is like around NYE.
- Almost all public transport in Central Amsterdam grinds to a halt early evening on the 31st. Given the crowds it simply isn't safe for the trams and busses to run. The metro network will run a restricted service as will the overland trains. See http://www.ns.nl for details.
- On New Years Day public transport will run a Sunday service. Many attractions and shops will be closed as will many restaurants, particularly at lunchtime.
- The only organised firework display in Central Amsterdam on NYE 2012 was at the Oosterdok . As with Museumplein, it is not clear if a repeat is planned for this year.That aside there are just lots of people going crazy and setting them off. The whole sky seems to be full of explsions of light for about an hour.
- It must be stressed again that Central Amsterdam is packed to bursting point on NYE. If you are uncomfortable with crowds or noise you'd do better to give it a miss.
- If you do come here for NYE, enjoy yourself and, above all, be safe!