Lonely Planet Writer

Discover an urban wonderland at this year’s Amsterdam Light Festival

Amsterdam is already famous for being a feast for the senses, but for a limited time, visitors can explore a selection of diverse, awe-inspiring luminous installations on display across the city as part of the seventh annual Amsterdam Light Festival.

Starry Night by artists Ivana Jelić and Pavle Petrović.
Starry Night by artists Ivana Jelić and Pavle Petrović. Image by Janus van den Eijnden

Running until 20 January, the festival was officially opened last month by Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema. This year the festival presents an exhibition that visitors can experience by boat, bike or on foot. With 30 pieces created by artists from all over the world, the seventh edition of the festival revolves around the theme ‘The Medium is the Message’, a famous phrase coined by Canadian scientist Marshall McLuhan.

Desire by UxU Studio features bright red lips. Image by Janus van den Eijnden

Guest of honour Jeroen Henneman designed the installation Two Lamps for the exhibition, as well as smaller version  – One Lamp – that is available as a limited edition via the festival. The sculpture Absorbed by Light by the British artist Gali May Lucas shows three figures sitting next to each other on a bench, their heads bent down and their faces lit up by smartphone screens. Visitors can place themselves in the scene by taking a seat between the figures.

Shadows play a leading role in Shadow Scapes by South-African artist Marcus Neustetter, who created a piece on the facade of the Scheepvaartmuseum by recreating various objects from the museum’s collection as a flat silhouette and projecting them on two sides of the building. The Van Gogh Museum supported the artwork Starry Night – inspired by Van Gogh’s famous painting of the same name – by Serbian artists Ivana Jelić and Pavle Petrović, that sees beautiful blue and yellow swirling LED lights come to life above the canal.

Absorbed by Gali May Lucas questions our relationship with technology.
Absorbed by the Light by Gali May Lucas questions our relationship with technology. Image by Janus van den Eijnden

“The reaction from the public has been great and extremely positive. We have received so many messages, and people share their videos and photos with us every day on Instagram, which we often repost. There was even a message from a couple that got engaged underneath Starry Night, which we were overjoyed about. How many festivals can say they’ve played a tiny role in a couple’s happily ever after?” Sabrina Beek, Digital Marketing for the Amsterdam Light Festival told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Waiting by Frank Foole shows a large loading symbol on the facade of a building. Image by Janus van den Eijnden

For the first time ever visitors can vote for their favourite artwork and the Public Award will be presented on the last weekend of the festival.

Guest of honour Jeroen Henneman designed the installation Two Lamps for the exhibition
Guest of honour Jeroen Henneman designed the installation Two Lamps for the exhibition. Image by Janus van den Eijnden

More information on the Amsterdam Light Festival, including a route of the artworks, is available at the official website.