Why Amsterdam is Europe's greatest city for nightlife

Amsterdam swelters on steamy summer nights. The population pours outdoors to lounge on terraces, party in the parks, and putter in boats along canals, or simply to stroll the waterways, as a slow-setting sun gives a warm glow to the historic gables. Imaginative young chefs venture out with hot new seasonal dishes, and entertainment steps into the open, too, with festivals aplenty: in parks, on the water, in city squares. And of course there’s still the Concertgebouw, opera house and plenty more world-class entertainment and music indoors, for those days when the weather doesn’t want to play along.

Summer night happenings
Opera, popular classics and chamber music come outdoors, on stages erected in some of Amsterdam’s most beautiful locations, during the Grachtenfestival (Canal Festival, August 12-21, grachtenfestival.nl, prices vary). And a former jetty in the Western Docks becomes the scene of an outdoor waterside cinema, Pluk de Nacht (August 3-13, plukdenacht.nl, Westerdoksdijk 707, donation to book a deckchair), screening art films and unreleased indie movies (in English or sub-titled).

Evening entertainment
Outdoor venues open for the summer, with fun shows through the day and late into the night. The Vondelpark Open-Air Theatre has a bag brimming with dance, cabaret, and a wide variety of music (openluchttheater.nl, free). The Parade brings cabaret, circus-style entertainment, adventurous theatre and even the odd fairground attraction to the Martin Luther King Park, performed in tents and outdoors, (deparade.nl, general entrance €7.50, individual shows from €2). In hip Amsterdam North (across the water, behind Central Station) the Tolhuistuin (IJpromenade 2, tolhuistuin.nl, around €20), set in a large garden, has a café pavilion, indoor and outdoor stages, and hosts world music, jazz and more.

Where to eat late 
Dinner after 10pm doesn’t really happen in Amsterdam, even in summer, but, wherever they can, restaurants spill out on to terraces: snaking along pavements, under trees, on the waterside. Riva (Amstelboulevard 1; 0031 2760 2030; caferestaurantriva.nl) has a wooden deck on the Amstel River, and serves such summery delights as soft-shell crab and squid salad. Hipsters head to Pension Homeland (Kattenburgerstraat 5; 0031 20723 2550), a former naval officers’ mess, where (with a view of historic ships) you can tuck into Dutch oysters. On a large square, beneath ancient wing-nut trees, beside a white wooden church, and with a view of the Prinsengracht, Nel (Amstelveld; 0031 20626 1199; nelamstelveld.nl) serves simple, summery fare.

Where to drink late 
All bars open late, until 1am or 2am/3am at weekends. One of the liveliest spots in town, with a beer-garden atmosphere and a view across the Eastern Docks, Hannekes Boom (Dijksgracht 4; 0031 2041 99820; hannekesboom.nl) draws a mixed crowd, is always laid-back and fun, and often has live entertainment. For a more neighbourhood feel, try Café Ruis (Van der Helstplein 9; 0031 20 364 0354; www.café-ruis.nl), on a secluded square a step back from the busy drink-and-dining quarter of De Pijp, under trees lit by lights embedded in the paving. De Ysbreker (Weesperzijde 23; 0031 20 468 1808; deysbreeker.nl) has a large terrace beside a stretch of houseboats on the Amstel River, and is a favourite with artsy Amsterdammers.

Where to dance late
Successor to the uber-hip club Trouw, De School (deschoolamsterdam.nl, Dr Jan van Breemenstraat 1, €15) opened this year in the cavernous bike shed of a former technical college. It has a 24hr licence and generally rocks on until 5am, though parties that finish at 9am-10am have been known. Still hot after nearly half a century as a music venue, converted church Paradiso (Weteringsschans 6-8; clubparadiso.amsterdam, usually €15, open until 4am) has club nights at weekends, with everything from indie to hip-hop and techno. Club Canvas (volkshotel.nl, Wibautstraat 150, €10, until 4am) has a great all-round view over Amsterdam.

Published : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/netherlands/amsterdam/articles/amsterdam-summer-nightlife-bars-things-to-do/

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