Queen’s Day (or Koninginnedag in Dutch) is upon us once again, the rambunctious day when all of the Netherlands dons bright orange and comes out to celebrate the monarch in the most Dutch way possible: with a huge party!
Held every year on April 30th, Queen Beatrix visits a different city each year for parades and services, but the celebration occurs simultaneously in every city and town throughout the country.
Don’t be surprised if some of the revelers look a bit haggard, however, as the night before Queen’s Day, Queen’s Night or Koninginnenacht, is traditionally a rowdy affair, as nightclubs across the country organize special events and the Dutch get well into the party spirit.
On Queen’s Day itself, the Vrijmarkt or Free Market is a cool nationwide attraction, as the entire country basically turns into one big street market! It’s the one day when traders are allowed to set up shop without a vending license and VAT taxes aren’t collected, so Dutch people take advantage of the situation to sell just about everything imaginable.
Amsterdam in particular sees a huge Queen’s Day party, as the entire city center is closed to traffic and public transportation and for the hundreds of thousands of spectators the only way to travel is by foot or boat.
The scene is a lot of fun, as orange crowds line the streets and party boats sail on the canals, while the city puts on a number of activities to entertain revelers like concerts on Museumplein.
Otherwise check out the neighborhood of Jordaan, as it’s another center of Amsterdam Queen’s Day activities. This already charming neighborhood becomes even more charismatic as beer tents and food vendors set up shop while roaming groups of Dutchmen gaily sing old folk songs.
Don’t forget to wear orange during the festivities, as it’s been the royal color since William of Orange in the 16th century and the Dutch are not shy about showcasing their national pride on Queen’s Day.
In Rotterdam, the Netherlands’ second city, Queen’s Day parties are usually centered on the Plein 1940, which is the city’s central square. This year some of the country’s top house and electronic DJs will be spinning and it doesn’t take much imagination to picture an absolutely wild time.
Meanwhile, in Utrecht, the city’s famous 24-hour Vrijmarkt opens at 6 p.m. on April 29th and is the only free market in the country to stay open throughout the night.
Unfortunately, this year will be the last Queen’s Day celebration, as Queen Beatrix is officially abdicating her throne this Queen’s Day and passing it to her son, Prince Willem-Alexander. Don’t despair though, as the festival is being rebranded as King’s Day and will continue to be celebrated each year on April 27th, which is the King’s birthday.