Just over 5 years ago now, I was in Amsterdam for a few days and headed north west for approximately half an hour on the train for a day out in Alkmaar. Known predominantly for their historical cheese market, the people of the town have one other attraction to be proud of. and no, it isn’t the football team like you might have suspected I would point towards. It’s actually The Beatles Museum. The largest of its kind in the world, Azing (the owner and Beatles tragic since 1970) runs an impressive outlet that doubles as both the museum and a retail outlet for Beatles memorabilia. I’d not read any reviews before going as I like to be left in the dark regarding attractions until I see them with my own eyes.
The Museum is located just north of the town center and is east enough to find. Around a ten minute walk from the town square where you will find the famous cheese markets. From memory, the museum opens around 11 am and you’ll need around one to two hours to explore and enjoy properly. Azing has some amazing items on show, most of which was collected through auctions and even from Paul McCartney’s own personal archive of memorabilia. This is a man who has turned his passion into an art form. Everything is laid out with incredibly perfect precision. No stone is left un-turned and you soon realise that the 2 Euro’s you paid to go in is worth it and them some. Despite the temptation to spend way too much money, I only left with some postcards and a couple of books. Probably a good things as my impulsive streak can sometimes get the better of me in places like this.
Some of Azing’s stories are nothing short of amazing. He’s an incredibly passionate man who can recall where and when he was with each item in the museum. I saw a lot of myself in Azing. He’s so deeply in love with music from all walks of life but The Beatles are his main squeeze. Can you blame him? Ask Azing any question on the band and he will surely answer with great authority and fondness.
During my visit, there would have been around 20 or so other visitors popping in which allowed plenty of freedom to look around and not feel to cramped. You can happily stand and stare in amazement at all the gold records framed on the wall or contracts hand signed by band members without feeling like you are getting in anybody’s way. Fab indeed. Some of the other fans there were from Japan and had made a dedicated trip to The Netherlands just to visit Azing’s museum. They didn’t speak much English but were enthralled at every turn. They ended up leaving with massive smiles and plenty of shopping bags of Beatles memorabilia to take back home.
A large percentage of the memorabilia on show hails from the 1960’s and early 1970’s when the “Fab Four” were the pride of Merseyside and anything with that famous name upon it sold like hot cakes. I do love some of the dresses on show that have all the members covering a great deal of the material. Why can’t we have more clothing like this today I wonder? There are also thousands of other items to enjoy. Vinyl records, comic books, DVD’s, posters, t-shirts, key rings and well, anything you can think of is here. I don’t think there will ever be anything quite like “Beatlemania” ever again in our lifetime. The fact that the group still sell millions of records every year doesn’t surprise me at all. And the merchandise is also freely available just about anywhere you travel in the world.
Should you be in or around Amsterdam any time soon, buy yourself a return train ride to Alkmaar and enjoy the worlds largest and most incredible museum dedicated to the greatest band that has ever lived. Oh, and whilst you are there, catch the amazing scenes at the cheese market during the morning rush. It’s something to truly behold. Oh yeah. One more thing. The football team is half decent so perhaps you could tee up your journey with a match at AFAS Stadion. AZ Alkmaar have won two Eredivisie titles with the most recent coming just a decade ago.