Amsterdam Light Festival

2023 marks the twelfth year of the well-known Amsterdam Light Festival. It’s not difficult to understand why this festival is so popular. It’s literally and figuratively a light in the dark days of winter. During the months of December and January, beautiful light art is exhibited in and around the Amsterdam canals and city center. These incredible pieces of art are created by international artists. Visitors can walk along the works or choose to buy a canal cruise ticket to see the art from the water.

At Amsterdam Canal Cruises, you can of course book a ticket for an Amsterdam Light Festival Canal Cruise so you can admire all the light artworks.

History of the Amsterdam Light Festival

For decades, the GEB (the municipal energy company of Amsterdam) made sure that the canals would light up every year, until privatization of the company in the late 1990s put an end to this. Suddenly the canals were dark during the winter and locals considered this a real loss. In the following years, Amsterdam citizens organised multiple initiatives to light up the city, such as Yule and the Christmas Canal Parade with illuminated boats. In 2010, the Winter Magic Amsterdam was organised, during which the boat parade got combined with fun things to do and see. For the Winter Magic Amsterdam, light artist Rogier van der Heide turned the famous sight the Skinny Bridge into a true light artwork.

In 2012, the Amsterdam Light Festival was organised for the first time. The festival focused on the art and worked together with international light artists. During the winter months, people could walk along the canals to see the works, but they could also follow a route with a boat.

10 years later and the Amsterdam Light Festival is bigger and more popular than ever. Every year, there’s a new interesting theme that makes everyone ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’; whether you follow the walking route or admire the light works from the water.

Amsterdam Light Festival 2023-2024

For Amsterdam Light Festival 2023-2024, artists were asked to consider the effects of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) on our everyday lives. The ways in which we communicate, engage and create are all impacted by technology and AI. What is the impact on the human condition? How does society change because of this digital evolution? And where are the boundaries? The different perspectives will be highlighted during Edition 12, with the theme: LOADING… Revealing Art, AI and Tech.

The route consists of more than twenty light artworks by the hand of international artists. From renowned names to surprising newcomers and everything in between. A very diverse selection. We dive deeper into our relationship with personal tech, the mobile phone being at the forefront  – we cannot live without it, but sometimes you wish you could throw it in the canal. Subjects such as swarm intelligence, self learning algorithms, facial recognition and motion capture are also explored.

Edition 12 is a translation of, or commentary on, the all-encompassing and omnipresent technology that we so heavily rely on and that is intertwined with our everyday lives. What’s coming next? That’s still Loading…

The festival takes place from November 30, 2023 until January 21, 2024. 

The Amsterdam Light Festival canal cruises

Amsterdam Light Festival canal cruise
During this 90 minute canal cruise, you’ll sail along the beautiful artworks of the Amsterdam Light Festival in a covered and heated boat. This is especially nice during the cold Amsterdam evenings! Put in your earphones and listen to the explanation about the light artwork through our handy audio guide (available in Dutch and English). This cruise is fun for young and old!

Amsterdam Light Festival open boat canal cruise
We also offer an open boat cruise for those that would like to view the light artworks in a slightly more intimate circle. After all, you’re in a boat with a maximum of 25 people. Please make sure to dress warmly for this Amsterdam Light Festival cruise because this open boat is not heated. We do have some blankets ready for you to keep you warm. During this cruise, your captain will also be your tour guide and tell you all about the artworks that you see.

Amsterdam Canal Cruises Service

Do you have any questions about our Amsterdam Light Festival canal cruises? Then contact us; we’d love to help you.

Even outside of the period of the Amsterdam Light Festival you can book the best canal cruises in Amsterdam with us. You can also score tickets for museums and tours at Amsterdam Canal Cruises.