Orange might not be the most usual color to wear on a daily basis – unless you feel like standing out from the crowd. However, on April 26th, king’s day,this assumption is reversed: orange becomes the norm for shoes, dresses, t-shirts, trousers (even bikes!) and for any other funky accessories you might fancy wearing. That is because everyone will be celebrating, by bursting the national colour of the Netherlands, King’s Day (formerly Queen’s Day).
On that weekend, Amsterdam receives enough visitors to double its population. The streets – and the canals – are packed with people aiming to have the time of their lives. Open air parties, concerts, markets: everything happens at the same time in various spots to form one of Europe’s biggest events. Whether you’re planning to spend King’s Day with little ones, older ones or heavy party seekers, something will knock your socks off.
This is your guide to the hottest events and parties popping up around the city on the most festive day of the year. But before reading any further, if you’re coming for the weekend, remember to book your accommodation in advance. Amsterdam’s supply of rooms run out quickly at this time of year and last-minute planners don’t stand a chance.
The city hosts exceptionally good flea markets all year round and on King’s Day Amsterdam becomes one huge open air market. With the Free Market (Vrijmarkt), kids have the opportunity to put their trading – an activity well-loved by the Dutch – skills into practice. Pick up your no longer wanted goodies to sell as well – although do not expect to make fortunes: the idea is to sell things for a symbolic price. Head to the Bredeweg Festival, in the Oost District, to have kids entertained by face painters, craft workshops and more.
Now, if you are looking for loud music, booze, young people and the typical fun only Amsterdam can offer, you don’t have to walk far. The Jordaan is an especially popular destination, with parties taking place on the ground and on the water. Expect to grab delicious street food from food stands spread throughout the area and enjoy your pick in the sound of traditional Dutch songs, which are loudly chant by locals. It is a patriotic event after all, right?
Not too far from the Jordaan, you can have a wander to the Museumplein, where concerts begin just before lunchtime and rock all the way into the evening. The square becomes a truly open air arena – don’t forget your dancing shoes, you will need them! Leidseplein and Waterlooplein also embrace the music vibe, hosting live bands as well as DJ’s to liven up the crowds.
Last but not least, King’s day in Amsterdam also reserves special festivities to its gay audience; these occur in various spots, including Westermarkt and Reguliersdwarsstraat. These colourful sites offer a vibrant way of partying; giving life to an event nearly as significant to the LGBT community as the Gay Pride, which takes place later in the year, in August.
If you thought this was enough to fulfill your needs, you haven’t heard of King’s Night yet. It’s the warm up that happens on the night before, just to get you in the right mood for King’s Day. Clubbing until the sun comes up is where the fun starts.
One last tip? Rest. A lot. Either throughout the day on Friday or Sunday, that’s what you need to make it to Monday after experiencing the Netherland’s most exciting day of the year.