Last year was Xmas abroad, this year I went away for Hogmanay. If anyone doesn’t know, Hogmanay is the new years celebration which happens in Scotland and lasts two full days. It’s mostly a massive piss up to get you through the bitter night but it is a nationally celebrated holiday. So, going abroad for this time of year was a very different experience.
So, first things first:
Everyone takes to the city centre for the new years. Amsterdam has incredibly small buildings so unless you book in advanced you are going to be crammed in with several other people to tiny different bars.
The place to be in the red-light district as it has everything you could require; weed, bars, music and munchy shops. If you don’t fancy smoking there are lots of little shops which have the space cakes and edible alternatives to smoking. There are specific bars called bulldog which have an excellent service and rates. I asked for specific help on what weed to purchase and they were incredibly helpful.
If you aren’t aware what the red-light district is then allow me to enlighten you to the fact that everyone should know. Red light district is home to the prostitutes of Amsterdam. The narrow streets have small windows which are lit red to indicate that there is a prostitute available. Do not take pictures of them. But girls will be there in all shapes and sizes trying to entice guys in. It’s fun to stare at guys judgingly as they come out. The whole place is weird but hilarious when stoned or drunk. Try looking down fat alley and skinny lane.
The public transport stops at 8pm and resumes again at 1.30am so the streets are literally deserted. The best way to get around is on foot as the city becomes incredibly smoky and the streets are gridlocked with cars of people who missed the public transport getting in. Make sure you have some good shoes as Amsterdam is bigger than it seems.
One thing we were not aware of was the fireworks. Fireworks are banned in the Netherlands expect for new years. From 6pm to 2am people will be letting off fireworks on every corner. This means in the street and the fireworks aren’t regulated. They are pretty much continuing after midnight. Some people take it to far and set off mini dynamites and some which fly sideways. They enjoy terrorising the people in the centre. The smoke makes the streets so misty you can’t see to the end to tell If anyone is setting them off near you. It feels a little bit like call of duty. Make sure you are aware of this because it was a little traumatising being out of your face.
After that the night was highly entertaining as the Dutch know how to have a good time. There are a few differences to Hogmanay. They pretty much have all of their trees taken down. The city is open for business the next day which means you can go out and enjoy yourself. Try the free walking tours and pub crawls if you want to get some cheaper but cultural activities.