Kings Day in the Netherlands

Kings Day, also known as Koningsdag is an annual celebration in the Netherlands, commemorating the accession of King Willem-Alexander. The day is a national holiday and is celebrated on April 27. Festivities include outdoor concerts, markets, and open houses at royal palaces. Here’s everything you need to know about Kings Day in the Netherlands!

kings day
source: Wikimedia Commons

What is the history of Kings Day in the Netherlands?

Kings Day has been celebrated in the Netherlands since 1885. It was originally called Prinsessedag, or Princess’ Day, to celebrate the birthday of Princess Beatrix (Willem-Alexander’s mother). When Beatrix became queen, the holiday was renamed Koningsdag, or Kings Day.

The holiday is celebrated on April 27th, which is Willem-Alexander’s birthday. Festivities typically include outdoor concerts, free markets, and open houses at royal palaces. In recent years, the celebration has become increasingly popular, with more and more people taking to the streets to celebrate.

However, the holiday had different celebration dates. In September 1948, Juliana, Wilhelmina’s daughter, ascended to the throne. The holiday was moved to her birthday, April 30th, in 1949 and it was known as Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day.

The celebration of Queen Juliana’s birthday was continued by her daughter, Beatrix, who became queen in 1980. However, on January 31st rather than April 30th.

In 2009, on Queen’s Day in the city of Apeldoorn, a man attempted to strike the royal family’s bus by ramming it with his vehicle; instead, he drove into a crowd of citizens and collided with a monument, killing seven people and injuring more than 50.

Queen Beatrix abdicated in 2013, and her son, Willem-Alexander, took the throne (the first king since the national holiday was created). As a consequence, from 2014 on, the holiday was known as Koningsdag instead of Queen’s Day and it back to be celebrated on April 27th.

kings day
source: Wikimedia Commons

How to celebrate Kings Day in the Netherlands

On Kings Day, the Dutch celebrate with parades, street parties, and outdoor markets. Orange is the national color of the Netherlands, so many people dress in orange on this day.

If you’re visiting the Netherlands on Kings Day, there are a few things you should know about how to celebrate like a local.

1. Wear Orange

kings day
source: Wikimedia Commons

As mentioned, orange is the national color of the Netherlands. On Kings Day, you’ll see people of all ages wearing orange clothes, hats, and even makeup.

If you don’t have any orange in your wardrobe, don’t worry. Many stores in the Netherlands sell orange shirts, dresses, and accessories specifically for Kings Day.

2. Visit an Outdoor Market

One of the best ways to celebrate Kings Day is to visit an outdoor market (vrijmarkt). These markets are held throughout the country on April 27th and sell everything from clothes to antiques.

It’s also common for people to sell their own used items at these markets. So if you’re looking for a bargain, this is the place to find it.

3. Join in the Street Parties

Another popular way to celebrate Kings Day is to join in the street parties (straatfeesten). These parties are held in towns and cities across the Netherlands, and everyone is welcome to join in the fun.

kings day

At a street party, you can expect to find music, dancing, food, and drink. Most importantly, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people and have a good time.

4. Watch or Take Part in a Parade

If you’re visiting Amsterdam on Kings Day, you’ll be able to watch the famous Orange Parade (Oranjeparade). This parade is held every year and features floats, musicians, and dancers.

If you’re feeling energetic, you can even take part in the parade. Many of the floats are open to anyone who wants to join in the fun.

5. Have a picnic in the park

Kings Day is a great opportunity to spend time outdoors with friends and family. A popular activity is to have a picnic in one of the many parks across the Netherlands.

Don’t forget to bring some traditional Dutch food to your picnics, such as cheese, bread, and hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles). And of course, don’t forget a bottle of wine or beer to enjoy in the sunshine.

6. Go boat watching

Kings Day in Amsterdam is special, the canals are filled with boats of all shapes and sizes. It’s a great opportunity to see the city from a different perspective.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even take a boat ride yourself. Many companies offer special Kings Day cruises on Amsterdam’s canals.

7. Listen to live music

Throughout the Netherlands, you’ll find live music on Kings Day. Whether it’s a band playing in the street or a DJ in a club, there’s sure to be something to suit your taste.

If you’re in Amsterdam, make sure to check out the free concerts in Vondelpark. These concerts are held every year and feature a variety of local and international artists.

8. Go to a museum or gallery

If you’re looking for something a little more cultural, then why not visit a museum or gallery on Kings Day? Many museums and galleries in the Netherlands offer free entry on April 27th.

And if you’re lucky, you might even see some of the royal family. King Willem-Alexander and his family often visit museums and galleries on Kings Day.

9. Enjoy a meal or drink in a cafe or restaurant

Kings Day is the perfect opportunity to try some of the delicious food and drink on offer in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, you’ll find plenty of cafes and restaurants serving traditional Dutch dishes.

And if you’re looking for something to drink, then you’ll be spoilt for choice. The Netherlands is famous for its beer, and there are plenty of bars and pubs to choose from.

10. Go shopping

If you’re looking for a bargain, then Kings Day is the perfect opportunity to go shopping. Many stores offer special discounts on April 27th, so it’s a great time to buy some new clothes or souvenirs.

Just remember that many shops will be closed on Kings Day, so it’s best to do your shopping in advance.

Kings Day is a truly unique event and is definitely worth experiencing if you’re ever in the Netherlands. So put on your orange clothes, grab a beer, and enjoy the festivities

kings party


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