Don’t know what to do for Kingsday yet? Do you still have that Heineken shirt that you collected during your first few days in the Netherlands? Or do you have some old orange party shirts in the back of your wardrobe? Find it, pull it out of your closet and celebrate Kingsday like a local with these 4 tips.
For all the first-timers celebrating Kingsday, I would like to offer some background knowledge about this national holiday. Kingsday, held on April 27th, is the celebration of our king’s birthday. The first edition was carried out in 1885 to celebrate the birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, meaning the name was Princessday. Besides the celebration of the princess, it was organized by the liberals to emphasize our national identity. So if you’re wondering where the obsession with orange comes from, that’s because of the last name of the royal family, van Oranje.
In 1891, when Wilhelmina became the queen, it turned into Queensday, which stayed the name for the next twenty-two years. Only the date would change: Queen Juliana changed the date to her own birthday, the 30th of April. Queen Beatrix decided to keep this date to honor her mother. Willem Alexander, Beatrix’s son and our current king ascended the throne on Queens day in 2013 officially marking it the first Kingsday and changing it to his own birthday, the 27th of April.
You can probably flex this knowledge to anyone, even the Dutch (as I also had to google this), because to most people Kingsday is just a great excuse to party. So please feel free to use this as your pick-up line coming Wednesday.
- Visit a Vrijmarkt
Kingsday is the only day in the year that you’re allowed to sell your stuff (legally) on the streets. Do be quick though, because you might have already noticed all the chalk markings on the sidewalks. That’s from all the 10-year-olds claiming their selling spot. And there is no way they will share!
Have some old crap that needs selling? Kingsday is the only day in the year that you’re allowed to sell your stuff (legally) on the streets. Do be quick though, because you might have already noticed all the chalk markings on the sidewalks. That’s from all the 10-year-olds claiming their selling spot. And there is no way they will share!
More into buying things? Or do you want to support the local ‘entrepreneurs’ (referring to those 10-year-olds)? Some great locations to visit are Apollolaan, Vondelpark, NDSM-werf, Beethovenstraat, the Jordaan or just your local neighborhood. I recommend trying ‘Koekhappen’ or getting your nails and face painted. Yet be aware of those ‘grabbeltons’, those are a complete scam! You will either grab an old McDonalds toy or an Albert Heijn collectible from 3 years ago. Nevertheless, it is a great place to find some great new books, clothes, or home décor. As long as you remember to bring cash.
- Amsterdam From a Different Perspective
Do you know someone with a boat? Definitely encourage them to take you onto the canals. You will get the chance to emerge yourself in the strange world of party boats, with drunk Dutch people belting out some Dutch classics, a lot of air horns, and an amazing view of an orange Amsterdam. Just make sure you pee beforehand and bring enough water with you.
Don’t have a friend with a boat? You can also rent your own, or join an organization or hotel boat.
- Party at a Festival
Want to party? After two years the festivals are finally starting again. So if you’re in for music, dancing, and drinking, some great recommendations are Oranjebloesem (Amsterdam-Zuid/Olympic stadium), Kingsland (Amsterdam-Zuid/ RAI), Westergas 2022 (Amsterdam-West), Loveland (Amsterdam-Oost), and Bredewegfestival light 2022 (Amsterdam-Oost). There are even more to choose from. Most of them last the whole day, but there are also some great parties to go to at night. So go get your ticket swap app ready!
In for more celebration? The night before Kingsday is what we call Kingsnight. A fun place to go and party with locals of all ages is the Aprilfeesten. This yearly neighborhood party is organized by locals at Nieuwmarkt. It is a place where local bands share their music, where delicious food is served, and where everyone comes together to celebrate. The best part: de Molina. Definitely go for a spin on the carousel!
- Relax With Some Dutch Delights
More in need of a relaxing day? Here are some ideas that don’t involve endowering into the weird world of the Dutch partying culture. Organize a fun dinner with friends, or have a picnic in the park. The challenge: everything you eat and drink has to be orange. Don’t miss the opportunity to try some of the orange treats. My recommendation is the Oranje tompouce, a delicious treat available only on Kingsday.
Edited by: Cecilia Begal
Cover by: indebuurt/ anp