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Lighting up Amsterdam’s canals

Lights out in Amsterdam

The canals of Amsterdam have served many functions over the years: defensive systems, arteries of trade, sometime skating rinks during especially chilly winter days. Once a year, however, they transform into a vast, open-air modern art museum with the advent of the Amsterdam Light Festival: an event which sees dozens of luminous works occupying the towpaths and spanning the city’s hump-backed bridges – but more often rising straight out of the murky waters of the canals themselves. Boarding sightseeing boats, passengers follow the Herengracht canal – a waterway lined by some of the grandest townhouses in the city, where wealthy Dutch noblemen lived during the Golden Age.

Chances are that said noblemen would splutter on their tea were they to look out the window and see illuminated jellyfsh-like shapes, soaring neon kites and disembodied glow-in-the-dark heads as their new neighbours. There’s a separate art trail for pedestrians too: among other things, expect to see incandescent birds flying around the Botanical Gardens and a strange vortexshaped installation glowing opposite the Opera House.

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