Amsterdam! The city with a strong tradition of culture and commerce, Amsterdam is well-known for its business, tourism and culture. This city has risen tall and mighty, above its humble beginnings as a 13th-century fishing village on a river bed. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world and is recognized as a melting pot of cultures, with residents from over 180 different countries.
One of the many things that highlight Amsterdam is its Light Festival – a winter light festival for all ages. The Amsterdam Light Festival is set for over fifty days during the winter season. The festival was a major tourist attraction from November 28th, 2015, to January 17th, 2016, and showcased 38 light sculptures by a variety of Dutch and international artists.
The next festival will commence from December 1st, 2016 till January 22nd, 2017.
The dark winter months in Amsterdam are restored to a glorious and colourful time because of this Light Festival. In these days, Amsterdam is transformed every year into a city of twinkling lights creatively designed with the help of contemporary international and national light artists. This festival is not merely for the young, but rather for the old and the young, for people of all age groups.
This festival sees the residents of Amsterdam and abroad being treated to a spectacle of lights. The festival also provides a great platform for talented light artists to present their creation.
The theme for the year 2015-2016 was ‘Friendship’ and the festival lasted for about 55-days.
Boat and Walking Routes
The Amsterdam Light Festival consisted of two main routes. The boat route called as Water Colours, offered a unique view of the city from the perspective of Amsterdam’s famous waterways. If you are more interested in walking around and taking in the view around, then the walking route was available to get yourself energised. The walking route, Illuminade, was planned as a winding road through the culturally rich neighbourhoods Weesper and Plantage in Amsterdam East.
The Amsterdam Light Festival was the founding idea of numerous entrepreneurs in Amsterdam and has now become a private foundation. The festival has the nascent help of the city’s cultural institutions, knowledge institutes, businesses, funds and the municipality. Many people from different industries had bestowed their creative imagination on the Dutch capital.
Art, light and water! Intricately intermixed together, these three elements had been woven into a beautiful fabric of elegance to the city of Amsterdam!
The Festival conducts several packages, workshops or special routes as arranged by Amsterdam Light Festival or its partners. Some arrangements are only in Dutch.
Amsterdam lighted up during the Amsterdam Light Festival. The festival usually takes stage in the centre of Amsterdam and the artworks are displayed either by boat or by foot.
1. Water colours
Water Colours is the Amsterdam Light Festival boat route. The boat route takes about 75 minutes.
There were several canal tour companies which offered special tickets for the boat route. Most of these companies are located near Amsterdam Central Station.
The water route is a unique way possible to know Amsterdam with the fun boat ride. The latest light innovations added a whole new dimension to the historical city. From the Herengracht to the Oosterdok to Amstel, one could experience Amsterdam like never before!
For both visitors and Amsterdam residents, the boat route was a unique way to experience the city. The 75-minute boat tour took the participants along, under and through the spectacular light artworks. Water Colours was scheduled from 28 November 2015 to 17 January 2016.
Illuminade is the Amsterdam Light Festival walking route. The Illuminade walking route takes about 90 minutes and is 3 kilometre long.
The walking route started at Amstel 3. From Central Station, the walking route could be reached by foot, tram or metro. The festival could also be reached by car.
The walking route Illuminade took us past 20 light artworks through the culturally rich neighbourhoods Weesper and Plantage. The outdoor exhibition showcased artworks that had been created specifically for Amsterdam Light Festival by international and national talent. Historical building bathed in bright projections while dynamic lighting systems glittered in the city parks. Spectators could walk through the artworks and add an extra dimension to the public space. Illuminade offered the visitors an opportunity to enjoy contemporary culture and the beauty of light, for free.
The Illuminade took place from 10 December 2015 to 3 January 2016.
Let us look at some of the features and installations that characterized the Amsterdam Light Show in 2015.
- The Stunning Illuminations:
All the art lovers will definitely fall in love with the imaginative illuminations that drape the entire city of Amsterdam! Since 2012, Amsterdam Light Festival has offered various international light designers, artists, and architects the possibility to exhibit their artworks. Every year, more than 30 artworks are placed in the public space of Amsterdam. In the past four years, the festival has grown into a yearly cultural spectacle visited by hundreds and thousands of visitors.
One of the distinctive features of the Amsterdam Light Festival is the fact that all exhibited artworks are one of a kind and created specifically for this festival. Most of these artworks aren’t site specific and thus we are able to give it a new environment. Some artworks are specially made for the water, whilst other artworks are land based. However, most artworks are suitable for both environments.
- Run Beyond
This work is about the jump – the jump to freedom. The Italian artist, Angelo Bonello does not tell us what kind of freedom that is the work of the audience. But to Bonello, ‘this work is about the power of imagination, a power so strong that it makes individuals conquer their fears and limitations and causes them to open up to other cultures, new friendships, and unknown worlds.’
The illuminated figurines on the side of the water route clearly portrayed the exhilarating mood of the festival. The whole space had just lit up into a magnifying arena of joy and beauty.
- The Uniting Lightstar
The Uniting Lightstar is a dodecahedron, consisting of twelve pentagonal surfaces. The twelve surfaces represent the number of stars in the European flag. The surface of the dodecahedron is lighted up with numerous strings of blue light which connect all the points of this star and which represent the continual relationships between the European countries and their inhabitants. The Uniting Lightstar contains another characteristic of friendship, namely the human capacity to boost friendships and let them grow.
The Uniting Lightstar is the concept of the artists Joost van Bergen, Dirk Schlebusch and Onne Walsmit from the Academy of Architecture Amsterdam.
- The Light Kite
The Light Kite designed by the artists Saskia Hoogendoorn and Lieuwe Martijn Wijnands, evokes the memories of the summers of the youth where time seemed priceless and flying a kite flowed freely in the gentle breeze. This was the concept behind the Light Kite and it thus represented as a universal symbol of friendship & freedom. With their work the artists wanted to change the perspective of people by having them look at things in a new way.
Another idea was to evoke the memories of a famous Dutch song with that title by the popular singer André Hazes. The ultimate goal of this model was to connect and inspire people.
- The Northern Lights
The Swedish light artist Alesksandra Stratimirovic has created this light work with the idea of enjoying the northern lights during the entire winter season. The phenomenon of the northern light symbolizes friendship.
The breath-taking work is spread across the canal and is programmed in such a way that an amazing spectrum of light flares up the entire airspace. The artwork indeed creates a magical experience for every spectator just like the real northern light.
- Open Lounge
The Open Lounge is an idea to evoke the magical ballroom of a palace with the starry sky as a ceiling. With Open Lounge Géraud Périole welcomes all the festival’s friends.
It is like an invitation for all art lovers to come forth and enjoy the mystical atmosphere to the festival.
- Paths Crossing
The artful work Paths Crossing by the Dutch artist Ralf Westerhof consists of colourful, 160 meters long lines of light that stretch out over the canal from bridge to bridge. The abstract lines with their own colour represent a person. These representative lines seem to move towards each other are friendships growing. The lines also form figures that make up sculpture groups, representing certain stages of life.
Paths Crossing is a universal story about paths that may cross, or run parallel to each other, sometimes for a short time, sometimes for life. Biography After the success of Drawn in Light exhibited at Amsterdam Light Festival 2013-2014, is back.
The Westerhof creation finds inspiration for his kinetic 3-D art in the work of Austrian expressionist painter Egon Schiele (1890-1918).
- The Talking Heads
The Hungarian light artist Viktor Vicsek’s spectacular creation of two heads, show countless emotions and react to each other through all the possibilities of light. Per head some 4000 individually controllable LEDs provide different facial expressions in various colours. Both the heads are connected by Wi-Fi and they react to each other, and also to the interference of visitors.
The artist’s focus on architectural project lighting and 3D projections has gained some favourable responses.
The Polygonum by the artist Tom Dekyvere explores contrasting ideas such as organic and geometric, natural and artificial structures.
Through this structure, the artist tries to produce connections between two different and contrastive entities. Instead of a mere existence of people, it is time to connect and overcome all boundaries and grow together in friendship and love.