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Amsterdam’s Cannabis Cup is approaching

Probably the most enjoyable part of my job here at BootsnAll is having a chance to write about Amsterdam and help visitors out with practical information. Having visited that city more times than I remember, in addition to actually living there for a while in 2005, I feel like I know the place pretty well and can help newcomers find what they are looking for.

November is a special month in the city, as it hosts the annual High Times Cannabis Cup during the week leading up to American Thanksgiving. I’ve never actually paid to be a judge during this event, but I’ve been in the city several times while it was going on, and I can confirm that it’s a blast for the right sort of people.

A mixed crowd

One thing that may surprise some people who are considering attending for the first time is that the crowd who gathers is not a bunch of college kids looking to just get wasted off their asses. If anything, the age range skews older than normal visitors to Amsterdam’s coffee shops. It makes sense when you think about it, as the whole trip is actually kind of expensive, and not many young people can get away telling their parents that instead of joining them at grandma’s house, they are going to Amsterdam instead for the holidays.

I’ve definitely seen some people in their 20s there for the event, but also loads of folks in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and even 60s. It draws the true connoisseurs of the sport, rather than the hacky-sack stoner crowd.

Making plans and getting there

Being that it’s always held on Thanksgiving week, it’s usually actually fairly cheap to get there from the United States. Last year I was in Ireland at the time and I noticed that flights from Dublin to Amsterdam weren’t particularly cheap, but that flights from New York to Amsterdam could be had at reasonable prices as long as you work around the heavy holiday travel days.

And since it’s at an odd time of year that also means that Amsterdam hotels are more affordable than you might think. The peak season lasts through the end of October at most hotels there, so as long as you book in advance you can get a great rate at an off-season price. I believe the whole Cannabis Cup only gets like 500 or 600 visitors in total, so the city is not packed like you might think. There are usually quite a few vacancies even if you just show up without a reservation.

Some general information

If this event interests you, you’ve got pretty good taste from the sound of things. But I couldn’t blame you if you didn’t really know what to expect when visiting the Netherlands for the first time. I’ve put together a batch of easy-to-scan Amsterdam information that should answer quite a few questions, but some of the highlights are that everyone speaks English as well as you do, and there are enough ATMs and places that take credit cards around that you don’t have to worry about changing money or bringing travelers checks or anything ancient like that.

The Cup is every year at the same time, so even if you can’t go this year you should think about 2010. And you don’t even have to pay to be a judge to enjoy the best of the best, as all the shops will sell it to civilians during the judging week, so this gives you freedom to do exactly what you want and not have to worry about smoking everything in sight just to get your money’s worth.