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The best clubs, music venues and cabaret in Amsterdam

From classical recitals to big pop gigs, Amsterdam is music to the ears

Air, Music and Nightlife, clubs, Amsterdam
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Amsterdam nightlife is enjoyably eclectic, and the ear-to-the-ground clubber can enjoy everything from minimalist grooves to maximum noise, as the annual Amsterdam Dance Event attests. After years of so-so clubbing following the demise of 1980s mainstays such as RoXY, the city has once more become a great place for creatures of the night – and don't they know it. There are more than enough excellent parties to go around in summer and, even off-season, Thursdays to Saturdays offer plenty of choice, whatever one's musical inclinations.

When it comes to gigs, it's worth keeping your eyes peeled; you might discover a performance by your favourite up-and-coming band or DJ is but a tram ride away, and the concerts at rock, pop and jazz venues often turn into club nights, a prime example being the delightfully central Paradiso, a former church that's now the holy grail for after-hours revelry. The star-spangled Ziggo Dome and ArenA venues, meanwhile, are out-of-town magnets for those with cash to splash and a penchant for pyrotechnics.

The best nightlife in Amsterdam

Music

Heineken Music Hall

East of Centre

A surprisingly cosy musical arena in the ArenA complex, the Heineken Music Hall regularly plays host to pop, rock and dance acts who are too big for the more central venues. Its modern design lacks character but makes up for it in acoustics. It isn't hard to get up close to your musical heroes.

Clubs

Jimmy Woo's

Amsterdam has never seen anything quite so luxuriously cosmopolitan as Jimmy Woo's. You, too, can marvel at the lounge area filled with a mixture of modern and antique furniture and then confirm for yourself the merits of its bootylicious light design and sound system. At times, the place looks just like a music video - and that includes musicians and actors. If you have problems getting in, cool off across the street at sister cocktail bar, Suzy Wong (Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 45, 626 6769).

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Theatre

Meervaart

West of Centre

Its modern architecture and peripheral location do nothing for its ambience, but the Meervaart does offer an interesting mix of cabaret and theatre shows, along with a mish-mash of musical styles.

Clubs

Nachttheater Sugar Factory

This 'night theatre' has found its niche as a place where performance meets clubbing. Every night brings a show of some kind, be it photos, classical dancers, MCs in various shapes and sizes, or actors mixing with the crowds. Monthly Vreemd ('Weird') nights see surprise acts, DJs stepping beyond the usual genre boundaries and classy decorations. WickedJazzSounds hosts a Sunday evening, and the cutting-edge Electronation brings top acts from the worlds of '80s synthesizer electro to current day minimal techno. Sweet it most certainly is.

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Clubs

Odeon

This three-storey, 1662-built venue comes complete with restaurant, cocktail bar, café (with great canal-side terrace), disco and cultural activities. It's hot with the students on Thursdays, and weekends see various local electro DJs. Don't be intimidated by the lush interior, and find a chair with a view during Friday's fabulous cocktail hour.

Clubs

Panama

Waterfront and North

A steady force in Amsterdam nightlife, restaurant/theatre/nightclub Panama overlooks the IJ in one of the city's most booming areas. A deserted strip back in 2000 when it opened, the neighbourhood has now been transformed with high-rise offices, steep rents and a shiny Muziekgebouw . Monthly Rush and Bold evenings bring the best in national DJs, while huge international artists such as Danny Howells and Sander Kleinenberg also find their way here. On Sunday, bring your kids to an intimate concert by the likes of Ellen ten Damme and let your cares wash away

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Music

Paradiso

A cornerstone of the Amsterdam scene, this former church is in such high demand that it often hosts several events in one day. The main hall has a rare sense of grandeur, with multiple balconies and stained-glass windows peering down upon the performers. The smaller hall upstairs is a great place to catch new talent before the big time. Both are wonderfully intimate; bands feed off the surroundings, making for some special nights. What's more, the security is surprisingly relaxed: you can often even wander between halls to check out the differing vibes before settling in to watch the show that's best suited to your own tastes.

Music

People's Place

Named after Tommy Hilfiger’s first store, above whose European headquarters it’s located, People’s Place is a hotspot for the coolest music – programmed by the legendary Paradiso – for audiences of 20 to 650, in a flexible space with a superlative sound system.

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Clubs

Winston International

Red Light District

An intimate venue that attracts a mixed crowd with its alternative rock and indie-tronica. Winston's yearly Popprijs gives hope to many student rock bands and entertainment to unsuspecting civilians. Cheeky Mondays bring relief to yet another working week with jungle and drum 'n' bass, while other nights see daily live music from garage and folk to funky hip hop and ska, followed by alternative DJs. When relieving yourself, look out for the enigmatic toilet art gallery.

Music

Ziggo Dome

Out arena-ing even the Heineken Music Hall, this 17,000-seat behemoth of a venue, complete with state-of-the-art LED exterior, is all about big names. It was designed by Benthem Crouwel Architekten – the megawatt architects entrusted with the new bath-tub shaped wing for the venerable Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam no less – and, since its opening in mid 2012 the equally bizarre-looking Ziggo has lured many a superstar towards the unlovely expanses of Zuid-Oost, an area many Amsterdammers have hitherto associated with the annual trip to Ikea. Pearl Jam was the first international act to grace the stage here, with the giddymaking likes of Madonna, Beyoncé and One Direction in hot, spandexed pursuit.

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