Boo! Celebrating Halloween and other holidays in 2020 is going to require a rethinking of what we do. It might be smaller and quieter, but it can still be a celebration and it can still be fun, and we can all use that. Costumes, movies, ghost stories? We have you covered.

Halloween, or ‘Hallowed Eve’, falls on 31 October, the night before the Roman Catholic Holy Day of All Saints Day. Originally of Celtic origin, Halloween has transcended countries and cultures; the opportunity to dress up in costume and give frights big and small to other revelers has global appeal.

Amsterdam Halloween 2020

Get a Fright! There are almost no Halloween activities open to the public this year, on account of the public health measures to control the spread of the Coronavirus. However, The Amsterdam Dungeon is marking Halloween with extended hours from 27-30 October and is open for tours until 2 AM Halloween Night. Reserve tickets for their favorite time of year with an extra scary seance show!

Dress up and Decorate! Large gatherings are out this year, but whether it’s your own family or safely-sized small group, costumes and decorations can make Halloween weekend feel very festive. Here are some of our favorite local businesses ready to supply you with all your Halloween gear:

  • Kinderfeestwinkel: This children’s party store in De Pijp has everything you need for a Halloween party or any other party throughout the year. Warning: if your child adores big, flouncy, tutu style skirts you may not leave the store without one.
  • Witbaard: Oodles of Halloween stuff – both scary and fun. Check out the huge collection of children’s costumes upstairs! Witbaard is also located close to Duikelman  in case you need to visit an amazing culinary supply store for Halloween-themed cookie cutters or sharp knives for carving pumpkins.
  • Louis Wittenburg, around since 1901, knows its business and is ready to supply all of the Halloween needs of our Centrum dwelling families and visitors.
  • Dam in Oost has an incredible array of Halloween and many other holiday items. You can shop in-store or order online.

Watch a Movie! My kids are either bored or terrified by the movies I remember from my (admittedly long ago) childhood. Thankfully, here is link to current family-friendly fare on Netflix. Popcorn, costumes, and a good spooky movie—you’ve got this Halloween covered!

When the kids go to bed, all of you Dutch learners/scary movie aficionados might consider watching the Dutch film The Vanishing (available for rent on Apple TV) based on the story The Golden Egg by native Amsterdammer Tim Krabbé (brother of actor Jeroen Krabbé). It was made into a Hollywood film (with a very young Sandra Bullock) but the original is much scarier. And it’s good practice for your Dutch!

Spooky within Amsterdam

With names like Blood Street (Bloedstraat) and Spook Alley (Spooksteeg), pragmatic Amsterdam has its share of haunts.

The blood of condemned prisoners is said to have flowed through Blood Street as it drained into the canal, and Spook Alley is the eternal home of the ghost of Helena, who killed her sister in a fit of jealousy. Nearby Dam Square is known after dark as home to the spirits of victims of the witch trials, while the nearby Amsterdam Dungeon, itself built over a medieval cemetery, offers a chilling exhibit of the city’s darker past.

To get the most of Amsterdam’s haunted past, visitors can join a local ghost tour (e.g., The Ghost Walk of Amsterdam), and the Amsterdam Dungeon has a variety of frightening but fun Halloween activities.

A prison from 1580 to 2007, Blokhuispoort has seen its fair share of horrifying incidents — and the victims of those traumas continue to haunt the fortress today.

In the 17th century, people were tortured and publically executed here, and in the 19th and into the 20th centuries, it housed a sick ward with tuberculosis patients. Take a tour through the building, now a museum, to hear the stories of the tragic spirits who continue to roam its dimly lit halls.

Ghost Stories from Netherlands

Read about Aunty Cor, the Jordaan fortune teller who could take revenge on evildoers by conjuring up figures in the flames, or Rixt who lured ships to their doom to steal their bounty until she found her own child in the wreckage, or walled-in nuns, or ghost ships off the Dutch coast … if you are seeking chills they are all here: haunted castles, witches and ghosts.


Halloween Travel in Europe

For people who enjoy getting chills down their spines, Amsterdam Mama’s regular contributor Mary Petiet compiled a list of spooky Halloween destinations all over Europe, including two from here in the Netherlands:

 Main banner credit: Audrey Coggins

Anastasia Drost

Anastasia Drost is a freelance editor and writer and former Editor in Chief of Amsterdam Mamas. She fell in love with this city thirty years ago and is now thrilled to call it home.