LET YOURSELF BE ENTERTAINED...
When I think about the moment the pandemic became real in our lives - when the world started to shut down and our day to day changed deeply - I look back at the last 8 months and the ones to come, and I feel particularly unsettled about all the wonderful things we have missed and that we are going to miss in 2020. A lot from our personal lives: weddings we were planning to attend, birthdays and celebrations we spent at home alone, exciting trips we had to cancel, visits to family and friends we had to postpone.
But also outside of our personal dimension, many of the events that uplift our lives with moments of happiness and frivolity did not happen this year. Take for example sports - one the most powerful common grounds of humanity - no games, no olympics, no soccer cup, no fans cheering for their teams. All cancelled.
Take music - another forceful tool of unity - no concerts, no festivals, no singing or dancing all together for us this year.
No tourism, a dominant source of wealth for many cities and countries that has been devastated. With no possibility of going places and attending, all the major festivals and events simply did not take place.
As you know by now, before DC I spent 3 years in Amsterdam, working at a gem called Hotel Pulitzer. The end of the summer and beginning of the fall was an intense and exciting time for us over there, because some of the major events the hotel hosts annually take place this time of the year. That’s why this has been in my mind. This year those events did not take place for the first time, the ones that did looked very different than usual, and it’s heartbreaking for me and certainly for my dutch colleagues overseas.
I know you read about Pulitzer and Amsterdam all the time in my blog, I promise I am not here to do any promotional work, but when it comes to certain things this hotel is a remarkable force!
And amongst other things, it is in my experience a leader of large scale public and private events. So once again, in this moment of bitterness, allow me to lighten up the atmosphere and to entertain you with some fun stories about the most sensational events I have ever seen in my travels and career!
There are plenty of festivities and occasions throughout the year in the Netherlands, but especially in Amsterdam, where Dutch people come together to celebrate, honor their culture, and party... and trust me they know how to do that very well. It's no secret that the city hosts the most amazing events on the planet, it's famous worldwide for its music, festivals and heritage, and countless tourists who visit every year to join in and have the time of their life. I absolutely love the spirit of cooperation which all people and businesses embrace during those festivities to join forces and make the celebration one of a kind. The fun is not just in one place, it’s all around you...
Every year in January, various organizations promote HotelNacht (Hotel night) an event meant to push business in the slowest month of the year, but also for people to go out and have some fun. Hotels around the city - including luxury properties - participate in the initiative and offer a staycation package. A very low rate for the night, bundled with breakfast and access to a fantastic and exclusive theme party each property hosts.
This year HotelNacht hosted a special summer edition with tickets bookable in July and August, to help hotels during a difficult season.
In March of 2018, the city hosted its first Virtuoso Symposium, a massive event that lasted 5 nights and included 600 attendants, sponsored by 6 luxury hotels and 7 cruise lines.
Virtuoso preferred partners received the attendants in the different accommodations, highlighting their individual strengths, but also - as it’s usual in Amsterdam - working together to bring back the same details throughout the experience for each attendant. This was particularly interesting, as we got to meet with the other participants to create a consistency in services offered, welcome amenities, and accommodation arrangements. The event started with a welcome reception at the Rijksmuseum, and ended with a farewell gala at the National Maritime Museums. The exclusivity, elegance, and professionalism the entire event was planned and unfolded with, was absolutely second to none and resulted in an incredible success.
April 27th marks a major national holiday in the Netherlands. Previously known as Queen’s Day and celebrated on the 30th of April, it became Koningsdag (King’s day) in 2014, after Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of her son, and it’s now the day Dutch people celebrate King William Alexander’s birthday. It’s a day for national rest from work and other duties, a day for celebrations on the boat, a day when anywhere you go there is a contagious atmosphere of party and fun, and a spectacular flood of orange. The roads are closed, and hotels and bars turn their curbsides into a street party, with music, food, drinks and entertainment. This massive carnival sees people spill onto the streets and canals around the whole country to paint the town orange! This was one of my favorite days to work at Pulitzer, as the hotel of course treats you with an awesome participation in the festivities!
Typically the first weekend of August, Amsterdam celebrates its gay culture with the most colorful, musical, and entertaining boat parade you will ever see! I can't say this enough, Gay Pride in Amsterdam is just the most spectacular and fun event I have ever seen and worked at in my life! Nothing compares to the costumes, the music, the show, the originality, the personalities that light up the city during this celebration weekend. Every hotel that sits on Prinsengracht (the canal where the parade takes place) sets up a deck on the water for people to have a front row view of the parade and of the fun.
As it’s located right on the Prinsengracht canal as well, Pulitzer Pride throws a fantastic party as usual second to none! Year after year the event committee has worked hard to improve the planning and the details that make this day absolutely sensational and unique. I have no words to describe how spectacular Gay Pride and Pulitzer Pride is, I leave you with these teaser videos that will do it for me... Pulitzer Pride
August is also the month of the glorious annual Prinsengrachtconcert, an open-air classical music concert that airs on national television and that takes place on the canal, right in front of Hotel Pulitzer. Its location is not a coincidence, Pulitzer has been one of the sponsors of the concert since its birth in 1981. This grand event brings together thousands of Dutch people every year to listen to the most wonderful and renowned classical music, sing along their favorite notes, and since the stage is situated on a pontoon on the water, the viewers enjoy the show from their boats or from the windows of their homes - if they are lucky enough to live on the right spot.
For us at Pulitzer this was - is - an intense time, the pressure of hosting an event that airs on national TV is very high, the weeks of hard work and preparation are long and exhausting, but every year it’s more and more emotional and remarkable, and the feeling of that memorable Saturday night, in the end always pays off.
The first year I worked at the event and did not know what to expect, a colleague of mine who had seen it a few times already, described the event with the most appropriate word I can think of: it’s MAGICAL.
The concert always ends with a rendition of a song all true Amsterdammers know by heart: "Aan de Amsterdamse Grachten", a love song dedicated to the canals of the city. Every time I hear it I get so emotional. Watch this video and be emotional with me.
In September, the Hotel hosts another terrific event, which I have talked about in a previous post: the Annual Garden Party, one of the best examples of community and cooperation I have witnessed in my career.
In preparation for the party that takes place in all the 5 terraces and gardens of Hotel Pulitzer, and hosts 600+ guests, the main hotel's partners and sponsors join forces to put together a night of high quality food and beverage, live music, and other entertainments such as a silent disco, a photo booth, a hidden speakeasy and much more. Hotel guests, partners, neighbors and Dutch celebrities enjoy the night upon invitation only. Everything is sponsored, from the F&B to the decorations, to the music, and the labor is as usual your amazing and enthusiastic Pulitzer team!
The third week of October marks the time for ADE, Amsterdam Dance Event, the world’s biggest celebration of dance music, with the participation of around 2,500 of the world’s best and up-and-coming dance artists and DJs, and an immense program of almost 500 events, that take place in over 100 locations across the city. ADE not only provides 5 days of guaranteed partying for thousands of locals and visitors, but also brings music industry professionals together. And of course Pulitzer is the host for functions, conferences, and interviews, and accommodates famous DJs, record labels, artists, and other business experts.
And finally December!
Like everywhere else, tree lightings, Christmas markets and decorations, all happen in Amsterdam. But once again, the city has more to offer.
The Light Festival that occurs from late November to mid January, illuminates the city with beautiful light installations considered a real work of art. A committee selects a limited number of pieces of artwork submitted by hundreds of brilliant artists around the world. The festival is always held along the canals and around the Amstel river; therefore the best way to see it is the typical Amsterdam way: on a boat. The lights and colors at night, the hot drink in your hands that contrast the cold dutch winter, the water all around you and the songs that accompany your journey, will gift you with a real Christmas and Dutch experience that will warm up your heart.
And forgive me, but of course I couldn’t not share the lovely and delightful Christmas tree lighting ceremony that, as you can expect, Pulitzer hosts in the beginning of December!
Well, there are no more months left in the year, so this is where I leave you. My hope is that reading these lines and watching these videos you felt like singing out loud, dancing, laughing, partying, spending time with friends, traveling, and doing all the things that expect us soon, very soon... And in the meantime, we always have the memories!
I linked a lot of videos to this post, but I strongly encourage you to watch them to be able to get the amazing vibe I am trying to describe. If you don't have time to see them all, make sure you don't skip Pulitzer Pride, Prinsengracth Concert, and Pulitzer’s Annual Garden Party. Enjoy!