Spring is in the Air – Amsterdam’s elm trees are sensational

Spring is in the Air – Amsterdam’s elm trees are sensational

Amsterdam has a huge population of elm trees. This inconspicuous fact is a bit of a bore, I admit, but come spring time, the 75,000 elm trees that line the streets cause a sensation of snow storms for weeks on end. When you visit Amsterdam during spring time for a short vacation and are staying in an Amsterdam Apartments accommodation, you will no doubt witness this first hand. 

There’s even a festival that dedicates projects to this winter-defying phenomenon. Called the Spring Snow Festival, uplifting events are organised for an entire month and participating is a great way of getting to know Amsterdam from the perspective of an inhabitant. 

As the name implies, Spring Snow starts on Easter Monday (April 21st). The festival theme this year is ‘Spring is in the air’ and festivities kick off with a special Soundtrackcity Walk: Secrets of the Amsterdam Canals. To my horror, this absolutely fantastic event is only accessible to iPhone owners, as the app that you need for it is exclusively available on the iTunes store. Unless Apple is quicker than light in distributing iTunes on the Android platform (which they said they might do), people like myself need to do without or borrow a phone to participate. Come to think of that; I am simply going to have to impose myself on my cousin and get them to hand over their toy for an afternoon. 

The soundwalk, designed by sound artist Justin Bennett and theatre-maker Renate Zentschnig, plays back mysterious sounds from around and under those fabulous Amsterdam canals and mixes them with remarkable stories by the people who live there, be they ex-squatters from the infamous De Groote Keyser building, or the inhabitants of the houses on the elm lined streets some of which talk candidly about Amsterdam’s slave-trade past. There’s also material from an urban biologist about the flora and fauna of the canals, whilst a literary author narrates a possible scenario for the future canal belt.   

The festival organisers have designated a number of days during the month as Sunshine Days on which pop-up events take place, including Open Air Art Installations by Brazilian ArtistTúlio Pinto.

Are you itchy to get such a unique hands-on Spring experience? Simply visit the festival website LINK to see what’s happening. As you will notice, there are plenty of events planned this year, all inspired by lofty ideas. One tradition that is becoming more established every year the festival takes place, is walking or cycling the Elm Route, an eight kilometer stretch from the elm arboretum in Amsterdam Noord (near the Eye Filmmuseum) to the Hortus Botanicus.

The route weaves its way through the eastern part of the centre of Amsterdam, where the blossoming elm population is especially dense. This walk or cycle ride along the city in bloom is a great celebration of spring and will no doubt lift your senses. If you decide to walk the Elm Route on May 12th, you will be able to join a Hortus Botanicus guide and get a free tour. You will need to sign up for it by emailing to info@dehortus.nl.