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Through The Porthole (May-July 2016)

Through The Porthole (May-July 2016)



Amsterdam Canal Festival

Photo and Text by Andy Kancachian


Amsterdam is a city of water and boating, nestled well below sea level. There is one hundred kilometres of canals, 90 islands and 1,500 bridges, where recreational and commercial boating have long been part of the city’s culture.

I love Amsterdam and enjoy spending the European summer riding around endlessly through the medieval center of the city with the concentric half-circles of canals lined with old boats and barges, still being used for living the boating life.

Historically, the canals were dug for water management, merchandise transport and defence. However, today the canals in Amsterdam are used as a main form of transportation around the city.

This photo was taken at one of the most spectacular on-water boat parties I have ever attended: the 2008 Grachten festival. The annual event is held through August in the city on and around the UNESCO World Heritage canals. The Grachten festival boasts 150 beautifully staged concerts in diverse settings, such as gardens, rooftops, private homes, train stations, hotel rooms and floating pontoons. It is a 10-day festival showcasing the young musicians of the Netherlands.

On this day, we were rafted up in the Prinsengracht canal at the concert staged in front of the famous Pulitzer Hotel. The orchestra was positioned on a large floating pontoon, and the canals were filled, in both directions, with audiences listening from onboard an array of classic Dutch boats. The concert was free, so the walkways and bridges along the waterways were crammed with crowds, creating a backdrop of colours and movement, with classical and contemporary music bouncing off the narrow cobbled streets and alleys.

This photo now hangs in my Gold Coast home as a constant reminder of what the Gold Coast waterways can be with some clever government thinking and a wider community that truly embraces the boating life. Our waterways have the potential to be the stage for events—local and international—that showcase a city of creative and innovative people.