Head to Amsterdam and celebrate King’s Day April 27th!

Ever wondered why the Dutch love to celebrate the 27th of April? Not only is it dedicated to celebrating the birth date of their current King, it is also an excuse to go out in the streets to wear orange (as a nod to The House of Orange) and mingle with the chanting local masses! Amsterdam is a very popular city to begin with, but imagine its state on a national holiday - epic madness! Only thing left to do: participate.

Crowds gathering at the canal in Amsterdam on King’s day.

- © lornet / Shutterstock

What is King’s Day?

King’s Day is the celebration of the Netherlands’ King Willem Alexander’s birthday, on the 27th of April. It was previously referred to as “Queensday” (Koninginnedag) with the former Queen Beatrix, which was celebrated on the 31st of January during her reign from 1980 to 2013. She was succeeded by her eldest Son, Willem Alexander, on the 30th of April 2013 - hence today’s King’s Day (Koningsdag)! 

What happens on King’s Day in Amsterdam

1. King’s Night

Celebrated on the eve of King’s Day, this event typically brings out the local youth and international students to the streets to enjoy a night full of boozing and dancing to outdoor street concerts organised all around the city! Typically, this goes on until the next morning and onto King’s Day. 

King’s Night, Amsterdam.

- © hurricanehank / Shutterstock

2. King’s Day boat parade

Now for the main event of King’s Day: the boat parade. Indeed, the canal of Amsterdam is already a much visited landmark, with beautiful bridges and street architecture to complement an already aesthetically pleasing atmosphere - what better way to celebrate King’s Day than cruising the water with your mates in good spirit? 

Join the locals in bringing out boats to hit the canal party all throughout the afternoon, usually complemented by a few shared drinks. You must be wondering how traffic can possibly work in these conditions. This is why the government has restricted boats to 10 metres long and to a speed restricted to 6 kilometres per hour for the special occasion. 

King’s Day boat parade, Amsterdam.

- © ozanyilmaz / Shutterstock

3. King’s Day free markets

Something worth noting is that the Netherlands isn’t an especially outdoorsy city. Certain due to unfavourable weather, but also due to the fact that the culture is quite private. But on the rare occasion of good weather and especially King’s Day, the Dutch go all out: bars, small businesses, even homes open their doors to all. A very welcoming atmosphere full of joy and inclusion!

Moreover, since many things are permitted on this national holiday, so is outdoor private vending. Therefore, it isn’t unordinary to witness local families setting out tables to sell various household items or street vending small snacks to visitors during this celebratory occasion. You never know, those trinkets may come in handy one day! 

King’s Day free market.

- © Wolf-photography / Shutterstock

4. King’s Day Festival

The King’s Day Festival is a more recent addition to the main celebrations organised around the holiday in Amsterdam. Organised in three different cities (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Groningen), this year’s event will take place on the 27th of April (naturally) at 12PM at the RAI Amsterdam venue, with special DJ guests such as Martin Garrix, Antoon, and Bankzitters

King’s Day outdoor DJ set, Amsterdam.

- © lornet / Shutterstock

5. The King & Queen’s visit

If you’re lucky, you may even witness their highnesses joining in on the celebrations. Indeed, each year, they pick a different city in the country to meet and thank the participants in the making of the most celebrated national holiday. You’ll find them walking around the streets soaking up the atmosphere just like the rest of us!

King Willem Alexander waving to the crowds on King’s Day.

- © Marcel Alsemgeest / Shutterstock

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