Summer is for hanging out in an Amsterdam park, relax with friends and enjoy a picnic. Why would you go to, for example, Westerpark for a picnic? Every Saturday in June, July and August you can have your picnic in Artis Royal Zoo during the ZOOmeravonden (Summer Nights). You will be accompanied by live music and the wild zoo animals. Also there are guided evening tours and activities for the youngsters.
Last Saturday I experienced my first ever ZOOmeravonden. I never knew that the zoo would look this beautiful on a sunny evening and a slowly setting sun. During these summer nights the park is open until sunset. On normal days it closes at 6pm.
If you want to experience the ZOOmeravonden to the fullest it is best to arrive late afternoon. Once you are inside you can walk around the park, see the animals and learn about all there is to learn about nature. You will definitely need a few hours to walk around the park, as it is enormous.
In Artis Royal Zoo there are a few spots where visitors can have their picnic. It looks very cozy to see everyone sit on the grass with the wild animals around them. You will bring your own plate, cutlery and a blanket, just like you would do when going to Westerpark. Artis will have the food for you to buy and enjoy.
In one of the gardens, where you can have your picnic, students from the Conservatorium are playing classical music. The music makes it a perfect setting for a great evening with your family, kids, friends or lover. Every Saturday at 7pm a well-known Dutch band plays a live set at the bandstand. Bands such as Novastar, Stevie Ann and Jungle by Night are one of the bands who are playing between the animals.
It is Jungle By Night who launched the first ZOOmeravonden of this year. They have performed at ZOOmeravonden many times before, so you can almost call them the zoo house band. The story is that they got their name from a visit to Artis. Whilst everyone is enjoying their food, Jungle By Night manage to make everyone pay attention and even dance. Especially the kids at the front are having a great time.
What many people might not realize when walking around in Artis Royal Zoo is that you will pass by a lot of edible plants and flowers. If you are cheeky you can make your own salad. Bear in mind that these plants are mainly for the animals in the zoo to eat. Every day the zookeepers have a walk around the park for a picking route.
During my ZOOmeravonden visit I didn’t only explore the zoo for its animals and music, but I also learned about the galaxy. In its Planetarium you will get to travel in space, watch the stars (on a screen) and just be away for half an hour in space. It was a bit odd though to be outside again and see the sun shine.
If you want to experience your cozy summer picnic just a little bit different, Artis Royal Zoo’ ZOOmeravonden is the place to be.