A Kings Day Amsterdam experience should be on everyone’s bucket list and here’s why
Visiting Amsterdam during Kings Day (Koningsdag) will be a time to remember, guaranteed. Join in the national celebrations as locals and tourists alike gather for the biggest street party of the year and carry on the festivities in local pubs and bars when the sun goes down. The best bit – you’ll never have seen so much orange in your life! Amsterdammers are known for their partying, and any stay in the city will offer you countless opportunities for a night out, but the best party of the year is the annual Kings Day which falls on the 27th April in 2019.
For a glimpse of the King and Queen on Kings Day Netherlands locals will also be awaiting the arrival of the royal family at the appointed city. A yearly tradition, the royals take it in turns to visit a different location around the country each birthday. You might catch a glimpse of their appearance on TV.
History of Kings Day
To set the scene, Kings Day, named after the current head of the royal family King Willem-Alexander, is a celebration of the King’s birthday in 1967. While this date has only been in place since 2014, the tradition dates back over a century when the first Koningsdag (only called Koninginnedag – Queen’s Day) was celebrated in 1885 in honour of Queen Wilhelmina. The exact day it is celebrated may have changed over the years, as well as the royals, but the exuberance and joviality has stayed consistent – if not grown more fervent!
As a tribute to the House of Orange-Nassau it’s an unspoken rule that on this day you should dress up in orange - only. Head to toe is encouraged. It’s no small matter, this orange theme. From bright orange attire, to dyed hair and face paint, people sipping on orange-coloured drinks and wearing orange inflatable crowns, with some even dressing up as the king and queen themselves, it really is an occasion to let go of any inhibitions and join in the mass – in orange.
Kings Day Celebrations
The day’s activities start out civilised and you’ll find the streets bustling in a never-ending jumble sale with residents selling second-hand items called locally, the vrijmark, or free market. If you’re visiting this vibrant capital with your kids, there’s plenty to keep them entertained, too, with street games, face painting and the free family-friendly Bredeweg Festival in the Oost District, which has fairground rides and performances taking place over the weekend.
The streets will be packed full of nationals and tourists alike joining in on the festivities and it doesn’t stop there. Head to the canals for a big daytime dance party and to witness thousands of boats, decorated for the event. If you can’t manage to get onto a boat (usually its VIP only) try and squeeze onto the bridges for the best view.
If big crowds aren’t your thing – and it’s no exaggeration, these crowds are big; thousands come in from towns and cities around the country to the capital – use this time to visit the handful of museums that aren’t closed on this historic day. It’s actually one of the best times to visit Anne Frank Huis, usually one of the sights with the longest queues, as well as the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum in the Museumplein. You can still show solidarity by turning up in orange, though.
To fully make the most of your Kings Day Amsterdam experience, there will be plenty of opportunities to party from day and well into the night. While most of the street parties and activities kick off around midday, head to Westerstraat, Prinsengracht or Reguliersdwarsstraat once things wind down. This national holiday is a great time to see big name DJs headlining at the clubs, or just enjoy the high spirits with some Dutch craft beer, well into the early hours, with your new local friends.
If all of that seems a bit overwhelming and you’re not quite sure what you’ll end up doing when the time comes, download the Kings Day App when you get there, where you’ll find all the up-to-date information on the day. It’s no small feat, this fun-filled event feels more like a festival than a national holiday!
Tip: accommodation will book up fast during this weekend, so it is advised to book well in advance to ensure you get a room. Also, note that most businesses and services around the city will be closed on the 27th April as it is a public holiday. Public transport is also affected and routes may be altered.