King’s Day/ Queen’s Day – The biggest party in the Netherlands

Different name,

different date but the same great party! King’s Day, or Koningsdag in Dutch, is

a major yearly event every April when hundreds of thousands of people take to

the streets of Amsterdam donning their best orange 

outfits to celebrate the

birth of the Dutch King. If you are booking a short stay in Amsterdam for

King’s Day then you are in for a lot of fun.

Save the date: in 2013 it’s April 30 and from

2014 it’s April 27 for Amsterdam’s biggest festival celebrating the birth of

Dutch royalty. Street parties, special events, flea markets and all kinds of

professional and amateur performances are on the cards on this magnificently mad

day. In 2013 this is an extra special event as we celebrate the last ever

Queen’s Day which will be held on April 30 as Queen Beatrix hands the throne

over to her son Willem-Alexander meaning that from 2014 we start celebrating

King’s Day. The official King’s Day celebrations will take place on King

Willem-Alexander’s birthday which is April 27. However, the celebration does

not traditionally take place on a Sunday and since in 2014 this date falls on a

Sunday the first King’s day will be on Saturday 26th of April.

Join the party

This is the day when you can paint the town

orange, the national colour of the Netherlands, by donning your best orange outfits,

hats, crowns or frills, or even painting your hair, and join in with the

festivities to mark this special yearly event. If you’ve been before you’ll

know what to expect, and then plus some, but if this will be your first time in

Amsterdam for King’s Day then prepare to be gobsmacked when you see hordes of

people in the streets of central Amsterdam.

Every year various events and flea markets are

held throughout the city where people from all walks of life are there enjoying

the party and keeping the King’s Day spirit alive. Amsterdammers, tourists from

all over the world and Dutch men, women and children from all over the country

gather to walk the streets stopping at all the key locations where there are

organised events , partying and drinking in the bars, watching street

entertainment, browsing the market stalls and drinking and partying at the

outdoor pop-up bars with DJ’s and live music. Main Dutch radio stations such as

SLAM!FM are there too as well as popular national singers and bands representing

many popular music genres.

One of the best

spectacles

is on

Amsterdam’s famous canals with boats after boats of people partying, drinking,

eating or just cruising the canals in bright orange outfits with music blasting

through the stereos or even DJ’s spinning tracks. One of the funniest and most

random performances that we have seen is egg throwing where you pay an

insignificant amount to aim an egg at a willing individual who is absolutely

covered in egg, which on a hot day is literally cooking on them. This is all

done just for entertainment value and it always gets big crowds having a laugh.

For a breath-taking site head to Dam

square which is home to a fair ground each year and the Ferris wheel from which

you can get a fantastic birds-eye view of the masses walking the streets and if

you take your camera with you your loved ones back home will be pretty

impressed with it too, just don’t drop it!

In 2013 however Dam Square will not be hosting

a fair ground as the

inauguration of the

new king and queen will be taking place at the Royal Palace and New Church

which are both on Dam Square. This ceremony will begin at 10 AM at the Royal

Palace with the abdication of Queen Beatrix and a royal family balcony

appearance at 10.30 AM. The inauguration of King Willem-Alexander will take place

at the New Church at 2 PM.

There are other events

organised especially because of the Royal presence:

Orange Square at the

Museumplein:

This

big square in Amsterdam’s Museum Quarter will be the place for crowds to gather

to watch the ceremony on the large screens that will be erected specially for the

occasion. In the evening there will be a King’s Dance where a varied programme

is planned to incorporate art and culture for all.

Royal Boat Parade

along the IJ:

After

the inauguration the royal couple, joined by other boats, will set sail from

the EYE Film Institute Netherlands at approximately 7.30 PM. The boat parade

will travel past the Oeverpark to the Kop van Java and conclude at Muziekgebouw

aan ‘t IJ with a ceremonial salute at 9.30 PM. A unique programme or art,

culture and sport is planned at various locations along the parade route.

King’s Day events:

There are many yearly events

organised throughout the city and below is a list of some of the regulars.

King’s Day Festival at the Olympic Stadium

featuring a great line-up of musicians.

Loveland at Oosterpark with a big line-up of

DJ’s playing the best in a range of music genres.

NDSM Vrijhaven event at NDSM Wharf by the IJ with

live music, art, theatre, a kid’s street market, karaoke, a ferry party and

food. This is a fun for all ages event.

SLAM!FM radio concert – check for location

before you go as they used to perform at Rembrandt Square but have also started

performing on Java-eiland.

Live music on Leidseplein and Max Euweplein

A number of music stages around the Amsterdam

RAI centre.

Fair ground at Dam Square

‘Free market’

Or

vrijmarkt

in Dutch, is a flea market and one of the most loved aspects of King’s Day,

especially by the locals. From as early as 6 AM people are setting up their

‘stalls’ all over the city, lining up their once most loved possessions to sell

at usually very low prices. You will find all that is expected at a flea market:

clothing, toys, furniture, vases, crockery and your general bric-a-brac. There

are however many items to be impressed by, some even new or barely used but

incredibly cheap. Get practicing with your haggling skills for an even more

impressive bargain. The most popular free market is at Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s

largest and most famous city park. Another popular free market area is the

Jordaan district which is in central Amsterdam. The name

free market is given because this is the only day that the Dutch

government permits sales on the street without a permit or having to pay tax on

the earnings.

King’s Night

Because the Dutch love a good party the

celebrations start the night before and go until early hours of King’s Day. Amsterdam’s

clubs organise special nights for this occasion, DJ’s get the party going on

public squares, boats already start filling the canals and even cafes are

jam-packed with action. Some of the regular events include: concerts at

Concertgebouw at Museumplein; the Rotzooi event in the Westergasfabriek grounds

at Westerpark; party at Panama night club in the Eastern Docklands area; and

the Bezet! Event at Club 8 in Amsterdam West.

Family Fun

Vondelpark is generally more of a family area

on King’s Day where many kids enjoy setting up stall to make their first

earnings selling old toys and clothes or helping mum and dad out with their

sales. There are fun street performances taking place and activities such as

dancing, juggling and busking. The park is generally a quiet part of the city

during the celebrations and overall a great place for families to enjoy the

festivities. There are also other activities dotted around the city,

particularly in the parks, such as face-painting, games and sports.

Gay and Lesbian

Amsterdam’s LGBT community is as crazy for

King’s Day as is everyone else. The events attract visitors from all over the

world all sporting their best orange, and many pink, outfits for the occasion. There

are regular events held in specific areas and bars. One of the most popular

locations is on Reguliersdwarsstrat which runs East from Rembrandt Square and

holds a fun street party with the many gay-friendly bars taking part. Other fun

packed areas include Westermarkt, Warmoesstraat, Zeedijk and along Amstel River

between Muntplein and Waterlooplein. A number of clubs and bars are involved

too, including the biggest gay event called Rapido which is usually held at Paradiso

and the Bear Necessity Gay event which in the past has been held at Odeon.

Practical information

If your short stay in Amsterdam falls on King’s

Day, whether planned or not, there are some things you need to keep in mind

during your leisure or business stay:

Public transport

will be restricted and scheduled

differently on the day so if you plan on using public transport look up

information on your route in advance.

No cars

are allowed in central Amsterdam to

allow for street entertainment and free movement of the crowds. If you are in

Amsterdam with a car and do not plan on staying for King’s Day then it is best

to leave the city as early as possible by around 8 AM latest before crowds

gather and leaving the city becomes impossible.

Wear

comfortable

shoes; you will be doing a lot of walking!

Drinking alcohol

on the streets is allowed on King’s

Day but you are not allowed to carry more than one drink at a time.

Arrive early

: most outdoor parties and concerts

start around midday. Note: the outdoor events usually finish by 8 PM.

The main crowded areas

are not suitable for children

so if you are on a short stay with family then stick to the residential

areas around Vondelpark for a more fun experience with your children.

If you plan on visiting the

major paid-for events such as the night

clubs then it is advisable to

book in

advance as tickets are likely to be sold out on the day.

Choosing a suitable apartment

location for your short stay

If you are the life of the party and you want to

be in the heart of all the festivities on King’s Day then you will enjoy

staying in our apartments around Dam Square, Central Station, the Jordaan

district, the Red Light District, the southern part of the Canal Belt between

Leidseplein and Rembrandt Square and in De Pijp. However, if you prefer a

quieter part of Amsterdam during this yearly celebration then you could

consider the apartments in the Plantage district, Dapperbuurt neighbourhood,

the Old West and in the residential part around Vondelpark, or even a little

further out in the Rijnbuurt area and by Amsteldijk Noord.