Welcome to Uitmarkt, running from August 27-29:

The Uitmarkt is the national opening of the cultural season and the largest cultural festival in the Netherlands. Over the years, the Uitmarkt has evolved into a festival attracting 500,000 visitors and featuring 2,000 performers at more than 30 venues. And it's all free!

Sounds great! As soon as the rain stops and winter leaves, I'll be sure to check it out...

It's been discussed by more than one person recently that were it not for the weather, Amsterdam would be the best city in the world.

I would concur - it offers a ton of cultural, artistic, leisurely, active, and intellectual pursuits. It's close to dozens of other countries, and home to so many different nationalities.

Unfortunately, it's such an inconsistent, wet, chilly climate that experiencing many of these pursuits (and festivals such as Uitmarkt) are only for the heartiest of locals and determined tourists.

And pity the poor souls who, months in advance, fork over 50-100+ Euros for some of the bigger (non-free) festivals, only to be completely drenched and chilled come showtime (recent washouts included Dancevalley for the young kids and an epic music/arts weekend called Lowlands).

Hopefully reporting to you soon from Uitmarkt... now where's my winter gear?