Many Dutch people look forward to Kingsday, which is considered the most exuberant celebration in the Netherlands. Every year on 27 April, a big spectacle takes place. The whole country celebrates the birthday of King Willem Alexander.
Loud music is played in the streets and open-air markets and fairground stalls are set up. The annual street festivals are a real highlight for young and old. Of course, colourful parades and processions are also organised.
In Amsterdam, decorated boats sail through the canals. There are celebrations inside and outside. You simply have to see this colourful hustle and bustle once in your life. Rarely will you experience Holland as colourful, funny and full of life. It is therefore definitely worth renting a motorhome in Holland during this period.
The tradition of kingsday
On this special day, Dutch people all over the country celebrate the birthday of their king, who is also the head of state. The streets turn orange and people enjoy a day off. Basically, the Dutch monarchy is relatively young compared to other royal houses. The Netherlands only became an independent kingdom in 1815. The first ruler was King William I of the House of Orange-Nassau.
The colours of the flag and the national colour orange also originate from this house. Princess Beatrix ascended the throne in April 1980 and ruled the country for more than 30 years before handing over to her eldest son Willem Alexander.
He was crowned monarch in 2013. The king has limited power in Holland, with ministers determining political decisions in the country. The monarch is relatively neutral politically and only makes statements on political issues.
Willem Alexander is married to Queen Máxima. Together they have three daughters: Amalia, Alexia and Ariane.
[blockquote align=”none” author=””]Originally, however, Koningsdag was called Prinsessedag and was first celebrated on 31 August in honour of Princess Wilhelmina. After Wilhelmina’s coronation as Queen, Prinsessedag became Koninginnedag. At that time, too, the birthday was celebrated publicly in the streets with games for children and decorations.
When Juliana, Wilhelmina’s daughter, ascended the throne, Koninginnedag was celebrated on 30 April, as this was her birthday. Juliana abdicated and her daughter Beatriz ascended the throne. Although Beatrix’s birthday was in January, 30 April remained a public holiday. One of the reasons was probably that no Dutch person wants to celebrate a street party in freezing cold January.
After Beatrix abdicated, koningsdag fell on 27 April, the birthday of King Willem Alexander. So this tradition has only existed since 2014.[/blockquote]
The colour of the Royal House Huis van Oranje is orange. That is why orange is the national colour of the Netherlands. Many Dutch people wear orange clothes on this day for this reason. You often also see wigs, hats and make-up in the bright shade.
Special events on this day
- The open markets are one of the main attractions on Kingsday. On this day, every Dutch person is allowed to sell goods on the street without a licence. Flea markets and second-hand shops are very popular in Holland anyway, but on this day there really is a market in every small town. The Dutch sell clothes, books and everyday objects that they can no longer use. Musicians are allowed to play music everywhere. Food and drink stalls are also allowed in the streets. In some cities, like Utrecht, the Freimarkt starts the night before. Then the fun lasts even longer.
Every year, children in Holland record a birthday song for the king. The big video clip that is filmed for this is broadcast nationwide on television.
- Of course, there are also extensive celebrations in the royal capital, The Hague. The Statenkwartier canals and Palais Noordeinde are particularly busy. Bands and DJs perform on Koningsnacht. An open-air market is also held here.
- The day in Utrecht starts with decorated boats on the canals. The open market starts the evening before Kingsday at 6 pm. On squares such as the Domplein, Lucasbolwerk, Mariaplaats, Neude and the Janskerkhof, festivities with music and dancing are held to commemorate the day.
- However, the day is celebrated most extensively in Amsterdam. After all, the people of Amsterdam are particularly fond of celebrating. The boat festivals on the city’s canals are legendary. The boats are decorated in the national colours. The so-called Vrijmarkt stretches through almost every street in the city. As almost all Amsterdammers participate, the flea market on King’s Day is one of the largest flea markets in the world.
- There is even a separate market for children in Vondelpark. There, children can sell their old toys and buy new things.
- A very special event takes place at the NDSM shipyard. The entire shipyard area is transformed into a huge concert hall. There will also be art on display and food on offer. A free ferry shuttles between the central station and the shipyard.
- Other attractions in Amsterdam include the Kingsland Festival, the Loveland van Oranje Festival in the Meerpark and the Oranjebloesem in the Olympic Stadium. And the King’s visit is also part of the programme. He gives a speech and mingles with the people. As a rule, the King visits two chosen municipalities on his birthday.
Conclusion: Kingsday in Netherlands
Kingsday is a fun experience not to be missed. It is celebrated every year on 27 April in honour of the birthday of King Willem Alexander in the Netherlands. On this day, the Dutch wear orange clothing and celebrate exuberantly in the streets.
Markets are held in every town where the Dutch offer their second-hand goods. But new goods, beer and food may also be sold publicly without a licence. Since musicians are also allowed to perform without a permit, numerous concerts take place.
The biggest celebrations take place in The Hague, Utrecht and Amsterdam. In the big cities, lavish celebrations and parties are held. The colourful parades on land and water are not to be missed. So don’t forget to rent a motorhome in Holland during this period.