Westergas factory at the Westerpark in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, Europe.
Rene Mattes/age fotostock
This sprawling 19th-century former gasworks complex west of the Canal Ring was a polluted site for decades after its closing in the mid-1960s. It was cleaned up and reopened in 2003 as a park, and its architecturally significant red-brick buildings were turned into cultural venues, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and shops. The Gashouder, a massive circular structure measuring more than 27,000 square feet, hosts mainly techno parties, while the nearby North Sea Jazz Club is an intimate space for live jazz performances. You’ll also find TonTon Club, a restaurant and arcade with video games, air hockey, and table tennis; Pacific Parc, a café with live rock music and DJs; and a three-screen art-house cinema.
NeighbourFood Market: Fantasyland for Foodies
On the first Sunday of the month, the NeighbourFood Market draws foodies, organic farmers, bakers, butchers and local chefs to the Westergasfabriek, a former gas plant turned cultural park on Amsterdam‘s western edge. In an open square warmed by makeshift bonfires, join locals sampling everything from local sausages and Spanish tapas to Japanese sushi, Lebanese falafel and French quiche. Meet the food artisans behind the products while soaking up the sights and scents of the culinary world. The outdoor market spills into the adjacent warehouse, transformed into a melting pot of international tastes where you can enjoy your edibles in a lively setting, sitting on benches at long wooden tables.
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week: Taking Fashion From Catwalk to Sidewalk
If you dig designer duds, fashion trends, wild lingerie, edgy hairstyles, goody bags stuffed with cosmetics, and parties brimming with A-list fashionistas, you won’t want to miss Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Amsterdam. Held twice a year, in January and July, the event features catwalk shows showcasing emerging and conceptual design; debut collections by international designers; and exhibitions showcasing the work of renowned fashion photographers. In 2014, a convoy of 10 Mercedes-Benz S-Class stretch cars rolled through town, surprising residents and visitors with a pop-up catwalk show starring 15 models robed in pieces and accessories by Dutch designers. To celebrate the 20th edition and their own 10-year anniversary, the European car firm partnered with numerous cultural venues and organizations in Amsterdam to present 10 Days Downtown—10 fashion events over 10 days at 10 downtown locations. Mercedes Benz drivers provided shuttle service to Westergasfabriek, a former gas plant turned cultural hot spot, where many Fashion Week activities were held. By taking fashion from the catwalk to the sidewalk, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week not only highlights such civic charms as Amsterdam diamonds, but also makes fashion more accessible to the public over 10 days of glam fun, shows, exhibits, parties, and networking with heavyweights in the fashion industry.
Rollende Keukens: International Flavors, Served With a Side of Fun
If roving bands of hungry Dutchies are any indication, food festivals are all the rage in Amsterdam. And while the Dutch capital has never had a reputation as a gourmand mecca, Het Weekend Van de Rollende Keukens (The Weekend of the Rolling Kitchens) changes all that with the arrival of more than 100 mobile bistros at Westergasfabriek. For a long weekend in late May, the former gas factory on Amsterdam’s western edge is transformed into a massive, outdoor café, tempting anyone lucky enough to be in the vicinity with international delicacies. Started in 2008, the event is a family affair that includes carnival rides, mobile cinemas and live music—alongside the food trucks. Entrance is free, but bring cash to sample everything from gourmet gyros stuffed with wild boar (prepared by the game specialicts behind such renowned local eateries as Wilde Zwijnen) to lobster dishes, Italian pizza, BBQ ribs, and Dutch pannekoken. While sophisticated seafood fare will cost you a bit more, most offerings are priced under €10. The Westergasfabriek is about a half-hour from Amsterdam Central Station by foot; tram #10 stops nearby. For anyone who enjoys experiencing international flavors served in a festival ambiance with a good sprinkle of fun, Rollende Keukens is a must. Bring the kids and make it a day in adjacent Westerpark, or spend a night under the stars, sampling exotic flavors and eclectic musical gigs.