Light the Night, oh Vondelpark

How about looking at the city in a different light–pun intended? As the Amsterdam Light Festival comes to an end, the Vondelparkloop (Vondelpark Run) celebrates both the festival and its 40th birthday organising an evening run: Light the Night! Creating a rare, but surely beautiful atmosphere.

The Vondelpark is not the eldest Amsterdam park–that would be the Wertheimpark. It’s also not the biggest–that would be the Sloterpark. Yet it’s definitely Amsterdam’s most famous park!

On April 8th, 1864, a group of individuals, including Christiaan Pieter van Eeghen, a philantropic business man, founded an association aiming to build a ‘Ride and Walking Park’ (Vereeniging tot Aanleg van een Rij- en Wandelpark te Amsterdam).

June 1865: the first part of the park was opened, the one closest to the Leidseplein (entrance Stadhouderskade). Almost exactly twelve years later, June 7, 1877, the entrance at the opposite end was opened, at the Amstelveenseweg. It took until spring 1878 for the park to be completely finished. In the meantime, a statue of poet and playwright Joost van den Vondel was unveiled (October 8, 1876, see below). Slowly but surely this statue changed the original name Nieuwe Park (New Park) to Vondelpark.


The latest renovation started in 1999 and took until February 2010: having been built on peatland, the park had sunk by more than a meter (over a yard). A lot hat to be done, for one to prevent subsidence of the soil and the tipping over of trees due to the high water level. Even though some of the old, plus the new trees were given a ‘foundation’, the park had to close its gates October 28, 2013. After a storm, they had to chop up fallen trees and clear up the mess. It was simply too dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians to pass through.

This Saturday it will be safe at the park for sure, as Autumn’s gone and the weather is very mild. In no way it will resemble the December 2010 Winter Wonderland you can see top left–nor will it be as cold as last year’s run. The park will light up as hundreds of runners will run through the park three times, most of them wearing runner’s lights.

Here’s the lap they’ll run:












As one of the runners, I invite you to come cheer us on! Ask any runner and they’ll tell you a loud audience does make a difference. Or just enjoy the atmosphere and have a drink at one of the cafes!


WHY The Vondelpark is worth a stroll: it’s a beautiful park, with nice places to have a coffee or lunch. Walking around in a park, makes you feel one of the locals.
WHY NOW The Vondelparkloop celebrates its 40th birthday and the Amsterdam Light Festival by organising an evening run. (Registration for the run has closed.)
WHEN January 18, 2014, 7pm. If you prefer a daytime stroll: on Sunday 19th there’s a few more runs. At 10.30am a Kid’s Run (1,5 km). At 11am a 3,5 km (1 lap), 6,7 km (2 laps), 10 km competitive runners (3 laps), and a 10km Business Run. And at 1pm a 10km recreational runners run.
WHAT A renovated, late 19th century park welcomes thousands of runners.
WHERE Vondelpark, Amsterdam (see map above). Start: Stayokay Hostel, Zandpad 5.

CC Photos & Text © Amsterdam Culture/Sheila Schenkel Facts Vondelpark 1864-2010: Vrienden van het Vondelpark

Light the Night, oh Vondelpark

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