King’s Day: A City-Wide Royal Celebration

April 26, 2022

The 27th of April marks a very special day in the Dutch calendar – Koningsdag, also known as King’s Day, which is a countrywide celebration of King Willem-Alexander’s Birthday. As this day is a national holiday within The Netherlands, everyone dons the customary orange party gear and heads out for a day of festivities. Travelling to Amsterdam by ferry makes for a brilliant getaway for anyone looking for an exciting city break, so we’ve listed some of the highlights that might pique your interest.

How to celebrate King’s Day like a local  

Dress orange! On King’s Day, all the Dutchies wear orange! If you wonder why they are dressed like that it’s because the colour orange refers to the family name of the Dutch Royal Family, the house of Orange-Nassau. So, bring all the orange clothing you can find, t-shirts, trousers, jackets and even hats, accessories or an orange wig! Don’t worry if you don’t have something orange in your wardrobe. Take a stroll along the vrijmarkt, or ‘free markets’ on the streets of Amsterdam and you sure will find something orange!  

Before you start your day, have an orange tompouce with your coffee or tea. A tompouce is a traditional Dutch pastry consisting of a thin puff pastry that is filled with cream and topped with a layer of smooth, pink icing. On King’s Day, the bakeries sell them with an orange layer of icing. A must try!   

Street sales

Stalls up and down the city, in parks and along the streets (provided it doesn’t inconvenience any one), form up the annual vrijmarkt – ‘free market’ – where anyone can set up shop to sell bits and bobs to passing partygoers. There isn’t any permit required, so there’s a whole range of vendors who can have an eclectic range of bargains on offer to anyone willing to haggle with them. Typically, the vrijmarkt within the Jordaan quarter has been the most popular within the city, but the Apollolaan on Amsterdam’s south side has seen a steady rise in recent years, so it’s well worth checking both out if you’re looking for something unique to take home.

Credit: taw.king / Flickr

Young entrepreneurs

A key part of King’s Day for the younger crowd is the Vondelpark, which showcases a heart-warming enterprise set up by the Dutch children of Amsterdam. Stalls are set up similarly to that of the vrijmarkt and are entirely reserved for kids who want to sell off their old toys and outgrown clothes as well as putting on small street performances. Aside from the sales going on, you’ll find stalls with games to try your hand at and fun activities to tempt you to spend even more time there.

Credit: Dutch Simba / Flickr

Dancing the night away or day away

If you’re more in the mood to move to some music and be part of a more active crowd, then look to one of the many music festivals around the outskirts of Amsterdam to get your dancing on. Actually, the celebration of Kings Day starts the evening before. King’s night (Koning Nacht)! At 5am you can start dancing at the Westergas area. With multiple locations, stages and diverse music styles, you can hop from location to location with a beer in your hand. Or head to the Leidsestraat and drink a beer at one of the many local pubs.  

Prefer celebrating King’s Day during the day? Kingsland Festival and Loveland van Oranje prove popular time and time again, treating the iconic orange-clad partygoers to some major dance music acts and DJs. While they do take you out of the hustle and bustle of the city centre where the lively street parties are, this option is perfect for those who are more musically inclined and want to party all through King’s Day long into the night. 

Credit: Ansel D’Souza / Flickr

Take to the water

River cruises and boat parties are a staple of Amsterdam celebrations, being a leisurely way of getting around the city while soaking up the atmosphere. Things can get hectic on the canals once things pick up, but the upside of this is the fantastic floating party that forms throughout the city as rival sound systems compete for musical superiority. If you fancy going further out, then a party cruise out to sea and back could be a great option if you’d prefer a private DJ set from some of the city’s best artists.

Credit: Ansel D’Souza / Flickr

King’s Day is the perfect time to capture Amsterdam at its most energetic, bringing almost a million people from all over to the Dutch capital to be part of Europe’s biggest street party. Booking any travel and accommodation early is essential to ensure you don’t miss out on this distinctly orange occasion.

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