From knights to nights under the stars: 11 great things to do this summer

Photo: Evert Elzinga
Photo: Evert Elzinga

With most of the coronavirus restrictions now lifted, the calendar is packed with things to do this summer. Here is a selection.

Go medieval with the Romanovs
At the Hermitage in Amsterdam it’s all about the middle ages and what the Russian court made of them in the 19th century. Some 250 objects, from both eras, explain the world of  knights in shining armour and courtly love and why it resonated so much with the czars.

There is a 500 year-old copy of the Roman de la Rose which inspired the concept of courtly love, rows of splendid armour and a rousing display of two jousting knights. There are tours for young and old, with one linking the Middle Ages with the present (think plague and covid), while others tell of knights and dragons (for the little ones) and courtly love (for the dreamers). Czars and Knights is on until July 31. Website

Give douze points to the Eurovision gladrags
For those who just cannot get enough of the Eurovision song contest, the Haags Kunstmuseum has put together a show of the gowns worn throughout the spectacle by presenters Nikkie de Jager and Chantal Janzen and some of the Dutch artists who put in an appearance.

David Laport evening dress for Nikkie de Jager. Photo: Chris Philippo/NPO/NOS/AVROTROS

The designers – all Dutch – include Claes Iversen (of the lilac number Chantal slipped into at vote counting time) and David Laport who put together Nikkie’s slinky blue gown. Until July 11. Website

Gape at the goddesses
More medieval revivalism in the Allard Pierson museum in Amsterdam which is presenting an exhibition about  international art nouveau (1890-1910) with a focus on the depiction of women.

Artists at the time took their inspiration from classical sculpture and medieval lore, from the thick-necked and Grecian-profiled beauties of Edward Burne-Jones to the disturbing cruel mistresses of Aubrey Beardsley. There is beautiful jewellery by René Lalique who combines the depiction of women with that of nature, the other great theme of Art Nouveau, and there are works by Jan Toorop and Alphonse Mucha. Goddesses of Art Nouveau is on until August 29. Website

See a bee
Beekeepers across the land are creating their own buzz in July and are happy to welcome anyone who is interested in the little creatures and how they make their honey. It’s great fun for children too. It’s about 99.9% sure to happen but check before you go. July 10-11. Website


See the world in Amsterdam
World Cinema Amsterdam is back for its 11th edition, with  a special focus on films from Africa. Venues include Rialto (and Rialto VU, its new companion cinema on Boelelaan), and De Balie, with free open air showings at Marie Heinekenplein and the Vondelpark theatre. The programme was not yet available at the time of writing so keep an eye on the website. August 19 – 28. Website

Cast an eye
The Eye film museum in Amsterdam is celebrating its 75th birthday and to mark the occasion it has given the public a gift. Some 500 fragments selected from 30 years of film history will be shown on fifty big screens at stations, shopping centres and squares across the Netherlands for the next two years. Will we be heartily sick of them by then? We’ll see. The museum is also making 75 restored highlights from its collection available on its Eye film player, some free, others paid.

Mend your tent
It’s time to dig out your camping gear because Lowlands in Biddinghuizen is happening this year. Three day filled with music, theatre, comedy, literature, science and art await, provided you take an entry test or are vaccinated. Line-ups are huge and varied, and include Stormzy and Liam Gallagher for music while  Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, Lale Gül and Zaïre Krieger are sure to provide some literary fireworks. August 22 – 24 Website

Photo: Depositphotos

There are many more festivals all over the country in July and August. Check them out here.

Be an early bird
Staatsbosbeheer has lots of outdoorsy activities this summer. You could do worse than to avoid the heat and go on an early morning guided bird spotting walk in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve in Flevoland. It starts at 7am so you will have to be up before the birds are.  July 10 and August 14. Website

Give a cheer for Robin
Where better to see Robin Hood bamboozling the rich and giving to the poor than at the Bostheater in the Amsterdamse Bos? The members of the Kleine Theater have created a fun show for big and small (from 4), with acrobatics, music and lots of laughs. And bows and arrows. Hurry, it’s popular. August 2-7. Website

Take a dip
If you are already tired of the chlorinated water of the newly opened swimming pools, check out where the best natural spots are for a refreshing dip. Rijkswaterstaat has kindly put together a map with lots to choose from. We will not give you the statistics of how many people drowned in open water but reading the safety tips would be a good idea. Website

Catch a movie in the open air
The Stenen Hoofd in Amsterdam will be once again be the venue for Pluk de Nacht programme of free films to be enjoyed from a beach chair (which you do pay for) covered in mosquito repellent. The organisers are not telling us which films will be shown until the end of the July so keep an eye on the site. August 12-22. Website

For the more well-heeled among DutchNews readers, Piper Heidsieck is organising a number of movie nights at the Grand Beach in the courtyard of the Grand hotel in Amsterdam, throughout July and August. Spoiler: you don’t get free champagne. Website

Thank you for donating to

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation