Happy Holiday Amsterdammers, it’s almost that time of year again. Guess what I was lucky enough to come across while scrolling through my FB Events a few hours before the kickoff? The annual Turn on the Lights ceremony! The free event was held in Dam Square, which is near where I live, so I dragged Steph along to see what all the fuss was about. Apparently, we stumbled upon a massive holiday lighting tradition held by the posh department store, De Bijenkorf. Can you say marketing genius?! It was the tenth anniversary of the event, so they pulled out the stops this year.
We walked to a jammed packed Dam Square, where a huge stage was set up. White balloon-like figures floated through the air. A commentator who's a dead ringer for my friend Miriam engaged the revelers in English and Dutch. Steph and I found a spot in front of a giant screen showing the stage and few minutes after 7 pm the show started, and what a show it was! It began with Giovanca and a gospel choir dressed in all white, singing their hearts out. The audience was then treated to actor Ernst Daniël, reciting a fascinating fairytale, about what, I’m not exactly sure because it was in Dutch, doesn't matter, it was fabulous all the same. Throughtout the stoytelling, dancers interpreted the tale through movement as mythical characters swung dramatically from cranes (You couldn’t pay me enough money for that craziness!) To top it all off, in a culminating countdown, De Bijenkorf simultaneously bathed their entire store, which spans at least two blocks on Rokin, in white lights as fireworks exploded from the top of the building while balloons rained over the excited crowd.
After the ceremony, the festivities continued in De Bijenkorf store which remained open until 10 pm for shoppers to browse high-end labels like Balenciaga, Chanel and Gucci. People moved en masse through the doors, greeted with live Jazz while being offered champagne (I grabbed a glass, or two. It was decent stuff. Don’t judge.)
All in all, it was a good time. I’m glad I discovered this lively Dutch tradition and will definitely be back next year! Do you know about other cool Dutch holiday traditions? Tell us in the comment section!