The Lace at the Amsterdam Light Festival

A Canal Trip through the Amsterdam Light Festival

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2016 marked the 5th year of the fabulous Amsterdam Light Festival. It has run the last 5 years from the 1st December to the 22nd January, and what a gorgeous winter treat it is! And to make things better, there is not only one display, but actually, two – a walking route called the Illuminade, and a canal route called Water Colours.

As much as I love walking, there was no way my friend and I were going to Amsterdam and not getting on the legendary canals at some point, so the Water Colours display was the perfect combination. And it was pretty good value for money! We bought tickets whilst on the Sandeman’s free walking tour for €22 and got brave a chose the open top boat rather than the enclosed one. Then crossed everything hoping that it wasn’t going to rain later. Tickets are available from a number of places around the city and also from the official Amsterdam Light Festival website.

On the boat we were given mulled wine (or Glühwein if you wanna go local), hot chocolate and blankets to help keep toasty. Oh, and unsurprisingly, as Amsterdam is so chilled, we were told we could take our own booze on the boat. Winner! The captain was knowledgeable about the artwork, concepts and designers so I got a good insight into the whole display.

The canal route is made up of around 20 displays plus a couple of the Illuminade pieces that are next to the canals. The pieces are designed by artists, architects and light designers from all over the world and this year the theme is ‘A View on Amsterdam’. Here are a few of my favourites!


Created by Hungarian designer Peter Koros to represent obviously one of the best known icons of Amsterdam. Did you know that tulips would have once cost you the same as buying a canal house nowadays? Crazy!

Bunch of Tulips



This artwork has been created by Frenchman Gilbert Moity. It represents the wonderful diversity in Amsterdam, and pays particular reference to the LGBT scene in the city that has shown support to anyone and everyone.

Bridge of a Rainbow


This was my favourite piece, not necessarily because of the message the artists were intending to show but simply because I just love all the different languages shown on it. This is created by Italian Artists, Luigi Console and Valentina Novembre to show a warning of how love is contagious and how it is interpreted today.




This fun optical illusion appears to show large 3D houses floating over the canal, but when you get close you can see that they are, in fact, 2D. This one is designed and made by The Lighting Design Academy who work to aim to share knowledge about light and how it can be used in a multitude of ways. The optical illusion aspect of this piece represents how the city is viewed differently by visitors and those who live there.

Welcome to my (home) Town


15,000 AND MORE

Next to the tulip, a bicycle is definitely the icon of the city, it’s part of the lifestyle and the culture here. In fact, there are more bikes than people in Amsterdam! 15000 and More however doesn’t represent how many bikes there are on the road, but how many are hauled out of the canals each year. Seriously people, what’s going on here! This one is slightly different as it’s designed by Studio Klus (the Dutch Anna Musch, Curaçaoan Cleo de Brabander and Greek Eliza Mante) who have a background of architecture, product design and fashion.

15000 And More



This is definitely the most intricate piece along the Water Colour . I kept seeing it during the day when I was wandering around, so I was so pleased to see it lit up! It is made from 33,000 threads of lights and it shows the interlinking and overlapping of different cultures and people in Amsterdam. It was designed by architects Choi and Shine who both graduated from Yale University and have artwork displayed all over the world.

The Lace


To see more about the Amsterdam Light Festival and concepts they have in store for next year, head over to the official website. Here you will also find maps for the Illuminade route of the Amsterdam Light Festival to print off. So go get hunting!


Every year Amsterdam holds its stunning Light Festival and it is NOT to be missed. What's better is you can experience it by canal! Find out more here.


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