Anytime of year is a fun time to visit Amsterdam. But if you want to see the city at its liviest, you’ve gotta go during the Koninginnedag festivities in late April. Koninginnedag (which means “Queen’s Day” in Dutch) is a national holiday in the Netherlands. The celebrations occur every 30th of April (or the 29th if the 30th is on a Sunday), Queen’s Day is a gigantic birthday bash held in honour of Queen Beatrix, reigning monarch of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Netherlands, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and Aruba). Although Queen Beatrix’s actual birthday is in January, her birth is officially observed at the end of April to keep with tradition and to ensure better weather for the all the activities.
One thing visitors to the Netherlands are sure to notice is that the Dutch absolutely love the colour orange. It’s the official colour of the country and of Dutch royalty. So come Queen’s Day the whole city is awash in the orange. There’s even a Dutch word for the phenomenon: oranjegekte, or “orange madness.” Amsterdam will be at its orange-est the night before Queen’s Day, when many of city’s clubs and bar throw their biggest parties of the year. On the 30th a huge concert attracting up to 100,000 folks will be hld at Museumplein from late morning. Orange-coloured wigs, t-shirts and all sorts of various items (you know about the city’s Red Light District, right?) available all over town to help you join in the fun like a real Amsterdammer.
Free Market Economics for a Day
During Queen’s Day, the government allows anyone to sale on the street without a permit and without having to pay tax on any profits. The nationwide free market, known as vrijmarkt sees one in five Dutch residents setting up shop for the day and more than half the country buying from the vendors. The best know of the markets takes place at Vondelpark in Amsterdam where a children are the merchants (and professional traders are banned). Traditionally, passers-by are supposed to offer the young entrepreneurs more than the priced asked.
Happy Queen’s Day! Long live the King?
This year’s Queen’s Day promises to be a particularly special one, and presumably the last for a very long time. The Queen has announced that she will abdicate on the date and that her son, Willem-Alexander, will be inaugurated. Ceremonies for the inauguration of the new King will take place at the Royal Palace at Dam Square and the Nieuwe Kerk. In the evening the King and his wife, Queen Maximá, will take a boat tour along Amsterdam’s famous canals. Consequently, from 2014 the name of the holiday will change from to Koningsdag, King’s Day.
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Photo: Chris Osburn