The Festival

When Henk Jan Buchel and Vincent Horbach organized the first canal parade, Christmas Eve 2009, they knew that light could be a fairytale in the wintery scene of Amsterdam.

In 2010, Felix Guttmann continued to build in this initiative, together with them. In 2010, Felix Guttmann continued to build in this initiative, together with them He chose a light image that would enrich the city for a longer period of time, without causing nuisance, and that would to optimal justice to the cultural heritage of Amsterdam. Therefore, he asked Rogier van der Heiden, internationally famous light designer and chief design officer at Philips Lighting, to put the Magere Brug in a special light for a couple of weeks, as an icon. That year, Wim Dröge signed on as producer for the second Parade, named Winter Magic Amsterdam. The play of light and water is so enchanting, that it was nothing but logical to allow the light at to grow. And that is why in 2012, the first Amsterdam Light Festival is organized, a light spectacle for the people of Amsterdam and visitors. The historic city center is the cozy décor for a light festival for a period of 40 winter days, a festival that demonstrates the grandeur, charm, vitality and humanity of the city, with light and water as connecting elements.

Light festivals are flourishing, not just in Amsterdam, but everywhere around the world. They add more meaning to the public area, demonstrate culture and the beauty of simplicity and they bring people together. Whether it is in Singapore, Lyon, Eindhoven or Sydney: the light festivals turn the public area into a true event, and inspire residents, tourists, professionals and those interested in viewing and discussing light art together.

The festival is also extremely aware of sustainability. Light design is high-tech, interactive and SMART. The lighting industry is undergoing a radical LED revolution, in which countless innovations and dramatic energy savings will be realized in the years to come. Dutch companies are leading in this revolution. Amsterdam Light Festival makes these changes visible.

The Amsterdam Light Festival is the result of a joint venture between the cultural institutions, the municipality, knowledge institutes and businesses in Amsterdam.  It is unprecedented that so many parties of all sorts have made such a huge joint effort to make this festival happen and to reinforce the qualities of Amsterdam. The festival was established thanks to a unique funding. Many parties have sponsored the ALF (which has been granted the ANBI status) through funds or in kind. Crowd funding has also played a significant role, hotels and restaurants donate a portion of their income! The cultural funds, such as ‘het  Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst’, ‘het Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds’ and ‘het Stimuleringsfonds voor de Architectuur’ contribute. ‘Het Blockbuster Fonds’ has promised to participate next year. Partners from all kinds of industries have put the focus on Light through their winter program. Many, many volunteers work selflessly and with great enthusiasm on the first edition of the festival.

Thanks to the festival, the city of Amsterdam is enriched and illuminated with art that changes the public area during the darkest time of the year, art to which the spectator will have a surprised, enthusiastic or playful response. Experience and Enjoy! The Amsterdam Light Festival wishes everyone an Illuminated Amsterdam!

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