King’s Day (Koningsdag) in Holland

Its been exactly 2.5 years that I have been living in Holland. For the first 6 months, I lived in the northern tip of Holland in a place called Den Helder where I had finished my Master Thesis back in 2013. I moved to the US and India after that and got back to Holland again in 2014 where I have been working on my PhD (luckily this time in Amsterdam).

King’s day: April 27 is a national holiday in Holland marked by huge celebrations as its the birthday of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander. I was lucky to also experience the last Queen’s day back in 2013 when it would be on April 30 in honor of Queen Juliana’s birthday before her son King Willem-Alexander was crowned. Dutch people really look forward to this day. Usually the party starts from April 26th evening (often referred to as the King’s night) till the next late evening (King’s day). I have experienced King’s day in Amsterdam and in Utrecht in the past 3 years. If you want to see the entire city in orange (Dutch national color) and enjoy the best parties in Amsterdam along with experiencing the laid-back Dutch culture, then this is when you should be in Holland. The whole city of Amsterdam parties together, canals are crowded with party boats, music bands play everywhere for free in the streets, locals set up food stalls and also sell second hand goods for dirt cheap prices. There are flea markets marked with outdoor drinking everywhere! Most importantly, everybody is in a great mood which makes the atmosphere super cozy, relaxed and enjoyable!

Where to spend King’s day in order to have ample fun! The only problem with King’s day is Amsterdam gets way too crowded and fled with tourists and hence getting a local atmosphere becomes very difficult! I have been to both touristic and non-touristic parts of Amsterdam on King’s days. Vondelpark in the city is a nice place to go as there is a huge kid’s flea market and also kid’s acts and performances. I live in the Zuid district of the city and hence tried my luck in Apollolaan last year which is in the south of Amsterdam. That by far, was the best local experience I had in Amsterdam and the flea markets in this area is marked by excellent items on sale if you are lucky! I have also been to de Pijp (home to famous street market in Amsterdam – AlbertCuuyp market)  and Jordaan which are again two best neighborhoods in this city, and if you don’t mind the drunk tourists (locals too, just that Dutch people can handle so much of alcohol..its impressive! 😉 ), then you should be fine! But still, don’t forget to check out Apollolaan.

King’s night parties and clubs: Regarding night parties, I would suggest getting your tickets booked as soon as you know you will attend King’s day for sure because they get sold out very very fast! I am not a crazy party person and I like to avoid clubs (Escape and AIR in Rembrandtplein are your good bets if you like electronic dance music). I have spent King’s nights walking around the city a bit, listening to amazing local bands in the streets. I have also been in Utrecht for King’s night which was pretty impressive as its very similar to the Amsterdam celebrations, but much more local and student-friendly in reality. The other city I have heard a lot of Dutch people bragging about (being still very local and less crowded) is Den Haag. I have never been there on a King’s day or night event, but I trust the “Dutch honesty” of my fellow Dutch friends and I recommend checking it out 😛 !

Downsides of King’s day: After attending 3 King’s days, the worst part is the terrible hangover next day :P, trash that people leave on the streets (look at the picture I took 3 years back) and the constant sadness that it happens only once a year ;).

Dam square, Amsterdam: too bad that this really happens.

Sadly King’s day is over this year and I am still recovering from my hangover, but I hope I motivated you enough to spend the King’s day in Holland in the coming years!  🙂

TIPS for King’s day:

  • Dress up in orange. You obviously don’t want to be that spoil alert in the orange crowd. T-shirts are available everywhere before the King’s day for around 10-15 €.
  •  Check the weather. That’s the thumb rule in Holland. It can start raining crazily and no fun if you are completely drenched and sick that evening and cannot go outdoors to enjoy the King’s day the next day.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Public transport doesn’t work well in the city center of any city in Holland starting from King’s night. So be prepared to walk around the city. It’s one of the best walks you will experience as the entire city (starting from kids to my grandpa aged people) are all outside!

Have you ever experienced King’s day or something similar? Did you like reading my post? Please leave a comment and keep sharing 🙂

NOTE: The featured image for this post is not mine, I took it from Google. 🙂