Amsterdam in 2013: Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh reopen, canals turn 400, and more.

Canal ring Amsterdam
Celebrate 400 years of the canal ring in 2013. Photo: Gforbes

The city of Amsterdam is abuzz with the planning of celebrations for 2013, as the year is studded with anniversaries marking great milestones in Dutch culture. From the reopening of the city’s top museums, to celebrations marking the founding of concert halls (and even canal systems), the year promises to attract visitors for a wide variety of celebrations.

Here are five reasons for Cheapos to be excited about visiting Amsterdam in 2013:

1. The 400th anniversary of the canal belt

During Amsterdam’s 17-century Golden Age, building grand canal rings around the city proved better for business and easier for commerce, given that boats were the country’s main form of transportation. (Bicycles came later.) The need for practical trade routes led to the creation of the Canal Belt, one of Amsterdam’s most recognizable features, and scenic spots for romantic views and photo ops followed.

Winning a UNESCO World Heritage title in 2010, these brick buildings, bridges and breathtaking waterways are still standing after 400 years. To celebrate along these dazzling canals, expect a cheery jumble of live music, outdoor multimedia projects and art festivities throughout the year.

The Rijksmuseum is set to reopen in the spring of 2013. Photo: Ben Kempner

2. The revealing of the new Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum

The Rijksmusem is one of the largest buildings in the city center, and for a decade the art museum’s external scaffolding has been a constant eyesore. But come spring 2013 its newly renovated 1.5 kilometers of space will hold over 8,000 pieces, revealing 800 years of Dutch history and culture – including Rembrandt’s “Night Watch.”

Nearby at the Museumplein, the neighboring Van Gogh Museum will also reopen entirely in April 2013. Just in time for Mr. Gogh’s 160th birthday. (Until then, visit the Hermitage Amsterdam to see a wide collection of Van Goghs.)

3. 125 years of a music masterpiece.

Amsterdam’s famous concert hall, the Concertgebow, celebrates 125 years of performances by filling the city’s streets with music. Plans are in the works to project live concerts throughout Amsterdam onto giant screens for free public viewing pleasure.

Throughout 2013, the grand and glamorous concert hall will live stream a selection of the 700+ performances scheduled for 2013. In addition, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and its 120 musicians take off for a world tour around the world, and a home performance is expected in August.

Happy 175, Artis Zoo! Photo: Nigel Swales

4. Oldest zoo in the country turns 175.

Set in the heart of the leafy Plantage neighborhood, Amsterdam’s old Jewish quarter, the Artis Zoo turns 175 in 2013. Artis houses an impressive collection of more than 6,000 animals, plus some gorgeous tulip-filled gardens, and a relaxing café atmosphere just next to the flamingo sanctuary. Expect some family-friendly events at this cultural oasis throughout the year.

5. 150 years of equality.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of abolishing slavery in the Netherlands and its former colonies in the Dutch Antilles and Surinam. To celebrate, the Foundation for the Commemoration of Slavery is planning to hold events July 1.

Throw in Queen’s Day April 31 and Liberation Day on May 5, and the dozens of arts and music fests stringing the weeks together prove that summer in Amsterdam is going to be hopping with celebration in 2013.

Coming to Amsterdam in 2013?

If you’re planning to visit Amsterdam in 2013, be sure to stop by our guide to budget hotels in Amsterdam to find a good, central and cheap sleep for your stay. All of our editor’s picks have been inspected and approved. Read more in our Amsterdam guide.

About the author

About the author: Audrey Sykes hopped across the pond from the US eight years ago for a Masters degree in global journalism. Since then, she’s lived all over Europe, reporting and editing for music sites, snowboard mags, and travel media. She’s also the Amsterdam author for Party Earth, a guide to nightlife across Europe.
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