Music is as much a part of the festive season as feasting and socialising. Whether it’s carols for advent, Christmas number ones or classical repertoire favourites such as Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, you’re sure to have your own seasonal playlist that creates the perfect soundtrack to the festivities.
If you’re planning a festive break in Amsterdam, listening to some live music could be an essential part of getting into the Christmas spirit. So, what are the concerts in Amsterdam that are happening during the Christmas period?
Here’s a selection of events and venues to choose from…
Christmas concerts at the Westerkerk
With its iconic 85-metre-high bell tower, the 17th century Westerkerk is one of Amsterdam’s most impressive churches and the largest of its kind in the Netherlands.
On Sunday 11 December a Christmas Concert at the Westerkerk is being given by the Harmonieorkest Groot Excelsior, along with the Jeugdorkest Jong Excelsior and Popkoor Prestige. The programme includes two works by Americans: Alleluia! Laudamus Te by prolific band composer Alfred Reed and Lux Aurumque, a Christmas song by Grammy Award-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre. Find out more and book tickets here.
On the three Wednesdays before Christmas at 1pm, the Westerkerk’s resident organist, Evan Bogerd, will be giving a series of lunchtime recitals celebrating advent and Christmas. Entry is free. Further details here.
December at the Concertgebouw
Located on Museumplein, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw is one of the world’s most famous concert halls. It’s home to two leading symphony orchestras: the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra.
There are performances at the Concertgebouw every day in December 2022, including Christmas Day, although tickets for some events sell out quickly, so your only option may be to call for returns. Christmas-themed concerts this year include: a Swinging Holidays jazz gig, Christmas Brass featuring members of the Concertgebouw Orchestra brass section, Handel’s Messiah performed by the Choir of the Netherlands Handel Society and a Classical Christmas Concert with pianist Jan Vayne. Find out more and buy tickets here.
Britten at the Orgelpark
Housed in the beautifully-restored Parkkerk near the Amsterdam Vondelpark, the Orgelpark is an elegant art deco concert venue which specializes in organ and choral music. On 11 December the Cappella Amsterdam will be performing a varied programme, including Poulenc’s O magnum mysterium (from his Four Christmas Motets) and Britten’s Ceremony of Carols. More information here.
A world of folk music for Christmas
Amsterdam’s historic Uilenburger synagogue has become a center for cultural and social activities. On Christmas Day, Dutch-Austrian folk trio Merain will be presenting A Celtic and Colorful Christmas, a concert of music from Ireland, Germany, the Middle East, Sweden, France, Bulgaria and South America. Find out more here.
Events at the English Church
Originally given to English-speaking residents of the city in 1607, the English Reformed Church Amsterdam is both a Presbyterian place of worship and a concert venue with excellent acoustics. It hosts over 100 concerts a year and in December this year is presenting eight performances, including the Grand Stand Classic Choir’s Christmas Concert on Sunday 11 and (on Wednesday 21) Olga Vocal Ensemble’s Winter Light, a festive show featuring traditional hymns, folk songs, gospel and jazz.
Concerts by candlelight
There’s nothing more romantic than a concert by candlelight – except perhaps a Christmas concert by candlelight! You’ll find the traditional ‘carols by candlelight’ services in churches across the city. However, for the ultimate candlelight concert, Amsterdam events guide Fever has the answer. This Christmas they’re exclusively curating a series of candlelight concerts, creating a live, multi-sensory musical experience in highly distinctive venues.
On 3 December you can enjoy Classics on Piano at the Felix Meritis, featuring arrangements for four hands of many Christmas favorites, including March of the Toy Soldiers and the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Winter Wonderland and a selection of carols.
The 11 December concert at Rode Hoed has a movie theme, with a provisional programme of music from the soundtracks of Christmas film classics, including Love Actually, The Holiday, Home Alone and Meet Me in St Louis.
On 23 December you can hear selections from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons performed by candlelight in the atmospheric surroundings of the Scheepvaartmuseum. Housed in a former dockside arsenal, this is the National Maritime Museum, which holds one of the world’s largest collections of maritime memorabilia, charting 500 years of Dutch seafaring history.
Christmas and music go together like holly and ivy. So, why not take in one of the Christmas concerts in Amsterdam? It will add some extra sparkle to your festive city break and help make it even more memorable.
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