About King’s days – Koningsdag
This is the biggest national celebration in the Netherlands: The birthday of The King. It is celebrated on April 27th which is literally the date of birth of His Majesty Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands. The tradition started in 1890 as “Queen’s day” and it used to be celebrated every year on April 30th for three generations: Queen Wilhelmina, later Queen Juliana, and then Queen Beatrix. In 2013 Willem-Alexander (Queen Beatrix’s eldest son) assumed the throne and King’s day was celebrated for the first time in the Netherlands on April 27th, 2014.
What happens on King’s Day?
Well, the celebrations actually start the evening before, for the so-called King’s night. People start getting together in the streets around the city center of the biggest cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht. You will find food and beer stands, and several stages with mini-concerts and live music.
Pro tip: Stop by the Cafe De Blaffende Vis. This bar makes a different King’s day mural every year which is interesting to check out. If you are out for King’s Night, at 24:00 h they make a show with lights, smoke, and music.
The morning of King’s day is popular for the markets. These markets are from particular people like you and me. Anyone can set up a stand on the sidewalks, streets, parks and sell anything you feel like. Clothing, kitchenware, toys, books, antiques, food, or paintings like I did! It is a very nice family time, and both kids and adults enjoy some shopping!
Setting a stand and selling on King’s day. I was curious about it and had some canvases lying around that I wanted to sell so gave it a try and it was quite a fun experience. In the most popular neighborhoods/parks, you will find that people reserve their spots days/weeks in advance by marking them with tape or chalk. They start setting up the stands on King’s day in the morning ~07:00-09:00, some even earlier and some even later, there is no specific rule or time. Regarding prices, in general, everything is quite cheap, people selling clothes for 0.50¢ or 15€, again, no rules on this since it’s your our stuff. I arrived at my spot at 09:30 and left at 13:30.
Pro tip: Vondelpark is known to be a Children’s Market. So you will find mainly kids selling treats, playing an instrument or dancing so show some appreciation and bring spare change to tip them.
In the afternoon its time again to get to the city center and submerge into the orange madness!!
There are so many events and fun things happening around the city, that my suggestion is to keep on strolling. Almost in every corner around the canal streets, you will find live music, parades, food trucks, drinks, and different activities to join. Another activity that is very popular for King’s day is boating, which gets very busy in the canals!
Moving around in King’s day. Since the city center is super busy, public transportation is diverted. You can use some lines that will help you to get closer to your destination and in general, it’s quite good. Use your bicycle with caution, don’t get into the city center with it, you will have a bad time. Cars can move around but again, up to a certain point.
So yeah, a lot of party on the King’s honor, but… Where is the King? The Royal family celebrates King’s day in a different city every year. They are welcomed by the mayor and walk a designated route to the main square where they will enjoy musical and theatrical performances, traditional games and special entertainment acts prepared for them. In 2018 they visited Groningen and Amersfoort
In general, King’s day is a lot of fun. Everyone gets in a good mood and there is entertainment for all ages.
However, it gets super busy! So here are a few tips to make the experience merrier:
- Collect your coins from around the house and stop by the ATMs on the days before to avoid long queues.
- Kid’s friendly? Yes, especially the morning of King’s day. Give them some spare change and take them to the markets. In the afternoon people start to get more in the party mood and streets get massively crowded, then it might not be comfortable to be out with the little ones.
- Pet-friendly? I would say no. Again, it gets terribly crowded and pets might get anxious or people can step on them accidentally.
- Beers in the streets are not that expensive, but of course, you can get a better deal if you get some in the supermarket and carry around – Disclaimer: This is my illegal side speaking!
- If you are kind of a party animal, make sure you don’t miss going to the city center during King’s night and the afternoon on King’s day. Its always fun in the Jordaan district, Dam square, and of course, The Red Light District.
- All events are finished on King’s day ~19:00-20:00 h.
- And of course! Don’t forget to wear orange!!