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If you have visited Amsterdam, then there’s a strong chance you’ll also have whiled away a few relaxing hours in the lovely Vondelpark. This beautiful park, slap bang in the city centre and located between the buzzing tourist hotspots of Leidseplein and Museumplein, is the perfect refuge from the hustle and bustle of the busy city. And there is so much more to enjoy in the Vondelpark than just a pleasant stroll, particularly in the summer when there is a whole range of exciting activities for young and old on offer.
Amsterdam’s Vondelpark is comparable with Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York, albeit slightly smaller in size. The park, designed to invoke an English landscape, was first opened in 1865. It was initially private property, but in 1953 it was taken over by Amsterdam council when the cost of park maintenance could no longer be paid. Today the Vondelpark attracts countless visitors during each of the four seasons. These include both local residents keen to take advantage of some fresh air and natural surroundings, and tourists wishing to take a break from the hectic pace of their city itinerary. In winter, if the park’s ponds have frozen over, ice-skating is a highly favoured activity, while joggers completing their ‘rondjes Vondelpark’ (laps of the park) are a familiar sight in all weathers. The arrival of spring and the first rays of sunshine attract swarms of Amsterdamers, who come laden with picnic baskets brimming with typical Dutch snacks such as ‘kaasblokjes’ (cheese cubes), that are washed down with a glass of chilled wine.
The Vondelpark grounds are extremely varied and incorporate countless small woods, pretty flower gardens, football pitches, elegant lawns, winding paths, children’s playgrounds and attractive ponds, for visitors to explore. The park also boasts several cafes, restaurants, tennis courts and even it’s own youth hostel. The park’s centre is home to a traditional bandstand, yet some of the finest entertainment can be appreciated at the Vondelpark Open Air Theatre, which hosts a diverse program of theatre, dance, cabaret, stand-up comedy, cabaret and live music performances every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the months of June, July and August. This summer’s highlights include the ‘Julidans’ (July Dance) (Friday, 6th and 13th July), Peter Faber, a famous Dutch actor performing his popular comedy show, Caveman (Saturday, 21st July), the world renowned Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfer & Band (Sunday, 22nd July), the Japanese pianist Yukiko Hasegawa (Sunday, 29th July), Dutch rock diva Ellen ten Damme (Sunday, 5 August) and the Scapino Ballet Rotterdam (Friday, 17th August). The Open Air Theatre finally closes with a special dance extravaganza from ‘Dansgroep Amsterdam’ on the weekend of 1st September.
So, if you happen to be in Amsterdam this summer, why not pay a memorable visit to the Vondelpark and bring along a picnic basket filled with delicious Dutch products? And even if a trip to Amsterdam and its famous park are out of reach this year, you can still add an authentic Dutch flavour to your summer picnic basket by ordering some typical Dutch products via your Dutch online supermarket!