“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…” Make your own Ode to Autumn with the kids this season with these brilliant ideas from the Amsterdam Mamas.
Do a Scavenger Hunt in the Woods
Make a list of 10 things your kids have to find (red leaf, acorn, pine cone etc.) and explore your local park or woods to seek them out. You can also print an online version.
Go Apple Picking
Head to the orchards of Fruittuin van West or Olmenhorst and come home with a basket piled high with autumn goodness.
Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen is a short drive west of Amsterdam. The sand dunes and woodland offer 15 different walking trails and plenty of opportunities to kick up leaves and jump muddy puddles. There are also workshops for kids, guided walks to spot and identify toadstools, and horse and cart rides (including wheelchair-friendly options). Check the agenda.
Celebrate Sint Maarten (11th November)
In memory of a Roman soldier who, according to the legend, gave his cloak and money to help a beggar, this annual celebration is a charming and unmissable part of Dutch culture. Children make a lantern, use a lampionstokje to light it, and go out at dusk to sing to their neighbours and get sweets and biscuits in return. There is also a lantern procession in the Vondelpark.
Pick a Pumpkin
At the Pluktuin, just south of Amstelveen, kids can pick their own pumpkin from the garden and then carve it. They also offer pumpkin-themed parties for children with autumn birthdays.
Go in Search of Gnomes
Follow the kabouterpad (gnome trail) from the visitors centre in the Amsterdamse Bos. You can even buy a special gnome-hunting kit which includes a jaunty red hat and a magnifying glass.
Witness the Magic of Nature Around You!
Amsterdam is one of the leafiest cities in Europe so come autumn, the city becomes a living rainbow of yellows, oranges, pinks, reds, browns, golds. It’s magical! Some of the best ways to experience this fest for the eyes is to take a canal cruise or visit some of the beautiful parks and gardens.
Night at the Museum, anyone?
Every November, Museum Night provides visitors the opportunity to experience culture with a night time twist. One ticket will gain you entrance to fifty different museums throughout the city, all of which will remain open until 2am. You will be dazzled with a spread of workshops, concerts, special tours and performances. Plus a few special events and suprises along the way. A great way to get your older kids interested in the arts!
Autumn is film festival season in Amsterdam with plenty of variety for everyone. Chose from KLIK‘s celebration of animated works or perhaps the Cinekid Festival, which is more focused towards children 3 – 14years. Maybe the International Documentary Film Festival is more your style.
If Halloween is your thing, Amsterdam is definitely the place to be with many events in and around the city for adults and children alike!
– Get some Creepy Culture
The annual family halloween concert at the Concertgebouw takes place at the end of October and features pieces that are macabre, magical, or morbid. Sells out fast so be sure to reserve your tickets early.
– Terrify your Teens, Tweens and Toddlers!
Get your teenager in the mood for Halloween by taking them to the Amsterdam Dungeon, near Dam Square. Teach them a bit of history and give them a jolly good scare. You can pre-purchase tickets to reduce queuing time.
For younger family members, Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam celebrates Halloween family style with their Lil Monsters Ball on 27 October. Be sure to book your tickets online so as not to disappoint your little witches and warlocks.
Walibi Holland also has some spooktacular Halloween fun between 5-27 October for thrill seekers aged 12 and under including exciting acts, scare zones and a haunted house.
– Join the Spooktacular Parade (last Sunday in October)
And of course…. celebrate Halloween Amsterdam Mamas style! Babies in buggies, mums, dads and kids all get dressed up for some ghoulish fun at this popular event. Check the Amsterdam Mamas Facebook page in October for details.
Deborah Nicholls-Lee is a freelance journalist who moved to the Netherlands from the UK in 2009. She is the founder of Clean Page Copy, a proofreading and copywriting service for non-native speakers of English. See her website to find out more about her work.