King’s Day is the funniest and the biggest party in the Netherlands! It is celebrated in every part of the country, but the parties in the main cities are something really big and special. It is a huge open-air fun which takes place literally everywhere outside! In the streets, canals, parks and everywhere in between. The city is full of people wearing orange outfits. As over 1 million people arrive from all over the Netherlands to Amsterdam to celebrate you need to make sure you make your hotel booking in advance!
The King’s Day is celebrated annually on the birthday of the present monarch. The tradition started with Queen Wilhelmina in 1885 and nowadays it is celebrated on 27th April in honour of King Willem-Alexander. King’s Day is celebrated each year on April 27th but if the King’s birthday falls on Sunday, celebrations are moved to Saturday. Traditionally the reigning monarch portraits are on display and streets are decorated with national Dutch flags and the color of orange. The Dutch royal family bears the name: House of Oranje. This literally means the colour orange. As a result it has become Holland’s national colour. People wear orange colour and some of them even dress up like the King wearing the royal insignia. If you are lucky enough you can meet Dutch Royal family members celebrating this day with their people. They join the traditional activities and spend time like any other citizen of the Netherlands.
One of the main attractions on this day is vrijmarkt (literally ‘free market’). City turns into one big flea market. It is truly an impressive thing to see. You can find everything here, from second-hand goods to small unnecessary objects from households You will see Dutch families trading and bargaining on the street among their family members, friends and neighbors. Starting as early as 7:00 am, the whole city centre becomes a street market. Most people are selling their stuff directly in front of their house. The tradition is to negotiate about the price. Market activities peak at 11:00 am and end around 16:00.
King’s Days is certainly a must attend event! Festivities start on the eve of the King’s Day, called the King’s Night. Amsterdam clubs organize during the King’s Night special parties and concerts that you simply cannot miss. Celebrations continue till the morning of the King’s Day, and do not stop for another whole day. DJs playing on the main public squares, decorated boats filling the canals, trade stalls, delicious food and traditional Dutch beer everywhere, great music all day and many happy Dutch people celebrating their King’s birthday. On King’s Day, the people make a toast to the king with Orange Bitter, a bright orange liqueur.
On this day, numerous decorated boats are filling the canals. You can take part in the boat party or greet the boats from the bridges, dancing and watching this amazing picture. The boat parade is going on for several hours in the early afternoon along the main canals of Amsterdam.
The celebration is so massive that different parts of the city hold different activities. For example, Museumplein is a traditional place for a big open air pop and disco music festival. And Vondelpark turns into a free market for children. Only children may sell here their toys and books. Children are performing here on different instruments they learn to play at school or at home. Jordan district is the most crowded area on that day. Also there you have an opportunity to meet folk singers playing and singing popular Amsterdam songs. South Amsterdam becomes the biggest free market area.
Please, note that most of the museums and attractions are closed on that day. However Anne Frank Museum, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum and Rijksmuseum remain open. King’s Day is an official public holiday in the Netherlands. Banks, post offices, and many businesses are closed. Opening hours in stores vary. Some stores are open as usual, some are open for part of the day, and some are closed all day. Public transport runs to a normal or special timetable and there are extra train services to take people home from large celebrations. However, buses and trams in the center of large cities may have different or shortened routes to avoid the crowds. Restaurants may be shut, open as usual or only serving special “King’s Day” meals. Cafes and restaurants may close earlier than usual.