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Koningsdag - Kings Day

Celebrating Koningsdag / King's Day in Amsterdam

Koningsdag, or King's Day, is one of the most celebrated national holidays in the Netherlands. It marks the birthday of King Willem-Alexander.

Before he ascended the throne in 2013, it was called Queen's Day ("Koninginnedag"), celebrated on April 30 in honor of Queen Juliana and later her daughter Queen Beatrix.

When King Willem-Alexander became monarch, the celebration was moved to his birthday, April 27.

What happens on King's Day

Here is more information on this festive day:

  • Everything is orange: The Dutch royal family belongs to the House of Orange-Nassau, so the color orange dominates the festivities.

    People dress in orange clothes, wear orange accessories and some even dye their hair orange. The whole country seems to be bathed in the color, earning the Netherlands the nickname "Oranjegekte" or "Orange Madness" on this day.

  • Vrijmarkt (Free Market): One of the most prominent King's Day traditions is the 'vrijmarkt'.

    It's basically a nationwide flea market where people can set up stalls and sell used items. It's the only day of the year when anyone can sell on the streets without a permit and without paying taxes.

  • Feast!Cities across the Netherlands organize celebrations, festivals and special events.

    Amsterdam in particular becomes a massive party place, with live music, DJs and boat parties on the canals.

  • Royal activitiesThe Royal Family usually visits one or more cities as part of the King's Day celebrations.

    Their visits often include performances, games and opportunities for locals to meet members of the royal family.

  • Children's activities: In many places there are special activities for children, including games, face painting and more.
  • Boat parades: In cities with canals, such as Amsterdam, you will often see boat parades where the vessels are decorated in orange.
  • Traditional food: On Koningsdag there are typical and festive dishes, including "tompouce", a cream-filled pastry that is usually pink but turns orange for Koningsdag, and "oranje bitter", an orange-flavored liqueur.

Closure of most businesses: While bars, restaurants and some shops (especially those aimed at tourists) remain open, most businesses close on King's Day.

Public transport runs on a limited schedule, especially in areas where the festivities are held.

If you ever get the chance to experience King's Day in the Netherlands, it is an unforgettable experience filled with joy, community spirit and, of course, a sea of orange!

King's Day

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