Amsterdam, Kingdom of the Netherlands
King’s Day (Koningsdag) celebrates the birthday of the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander. This popular event results in a great day of festivities on land and water throughout the country (parades, artistic shows, concerts, entertainment, festivals, singing, dancing, funfairs, fireworks, children’s activities, large open-air garage sales, etc.). On this occasion, the towns and cities and their inhabitants are massively decked out in orange as a sign of national pride and support for the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau.
Did you know that?
- The King’s Day is an exuberant event corresponding to the busiest day of the year on a national scale. The boats piled up in the capital’s canals are decorated in bright colours, the crowds gather in numbers resembling a vast orange sea, and the garage sales form one of the largest street parties in the world.
- The festival has been declared a public holiday and is an integral part of Dutch national heritage and culture. It was originally established in the city of Utrecht to help popularize the monarchy and promote national unity at the end of the 19th century. It was first established on 31 August 1885 to celebrate the 5th birthday of Princess Wilhelmine, heir to the throne and reigning queen in 1898. Baptized Princess Day (Prinsessedag), the celebration was later moved to 30 April, the birthday of Queen Juliana who succeeded her mother Wilhelmine. From then on, it was renamed Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day). Queen Beatrix kept this date of 30 April when she came to power in 1980 in honour of her mother until her abdication in favour of her son Willem-Alexander, who became king in 2013 (he is the first male heir to rule the Netherlands since 1890).
- If 27 April falls on a Sunday, King’s Day is celebrated the day before, on 26 April (this will be the case in 2025). The festivities usually start the night before, during the King’s night, in a festive atmosphere. They give rise to a carnival atmosphere, during which an orange frenzy literally takes over the country.
- Every year, the King and members of the Royal Family are invited to visit one or more cities in the Netherlands and take part in the festivities in the presence of the public.
- On 27 April, the yard sales (vrijmarkt) give everyone the opportunity to freely sell second-hand objects in the streets and parks of Dutch cities. Any inhabitant is allowed to set up a stall on the street to trade while being exempt from permits and taxes (except for the sale of perishable food and alcoholic beverages, which require a special permit).
- King’s Day is also celebrated on the islands of the Netherlands Antilles in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten in honour of the Dutch Head of State.
- A number of museums in Amsterdam close their doors to visitors on King’s Day.
- The street markets open from 6am but most of the entertainment starts at noon.
- Car traffic is banned in most parts of Amsterdam (public transport is very limited but continues to operate on the outskirts of the city centre).
- Bring a touch of orange in your outfit or accessories to keep the party going.
- There are special regulations on Amsterdam’s canals on King’s Day regarding the rules of navigation for boats.
- A toy fair and street performers traditionally take place at Vondelpark in Amsterdam (the site opens from 9am).
- Orange-coloured drinks are sold en masse on King’s Day. This is the oranjebitter, a preparation based on juniper and orange.
- The country’s largest open-air concert is held on Amsterdam’s Museumplein (Museum Square) and can attract up to 800,000 people.
- The King’s Day is free and open access.
- Some events may require paying admission.
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