Queen’s Day, on April 30, is the Dutch monarch’s official birthday (it was the actual birthday of Queen Beatrix’s mother, Queen Juliana, but when Bea ascended the date was kept the same). However, Beatrix officially handed over the throne to her son Willem-Alexander last year, so the event is now known as King’s Day. The king’s birthday is April 27, but because celebrations do not traditionally take place on a Sunday, the festivities in the Netherlands will this year it happened on Saturday 26th of April.
King’s Day celebrations make the end of April a fun and lively time to be in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities.
The day is celebrated with street parties all over the country, for example most cafes and many restaurants will set up on the pavement outside their doors. It is also celebrated with something quintessentially Dutch – a nationwide flea market.People empty their attics and set up stalls on the street, selling anything you can imagine. Or they provide services (cakes and drinks, massage, make-up – anything they can turn their hand to). Children especially put on side-shows or have a go at busking.
Amsterdam is the focus of the celebrations and gets very crowded, especially along the main canals and city squares, with sometimes up to three million people in a city with a population of 750,000. The fun traditionally begins on the eve of the big day (King’s Night) with the carnival atmosphere continuing throughout the city on King’s Day.We spent this evening in Leiden, where live music played and floats paraded along canals.
Photo from Loveland, the techno festival that we went to on the 26th. Below is a video from the festival, best seen in full screen.
DJs play parties on public squares, brightly decorated boats fill canals and live music spills onto streets from cafe patios. Never has gridlock traffic been so much fun! On King’s Day, thousands of brightly decorated boats pack the narrow Amsterdam canals. The next best thing to being on one of the boats is watching – and dancing – from one of the many bridges.
The Vondelpark is usually devoted to acts and stalls from children, while the Zeedijk (near Centraal Station) and Reguliersdwarsstraat, and a stretch along the Amstel River are given over to huge gay street parties. My personal favourite spots are a little south of the centre, along Apollolaan and around Sarphatipark, where there is still something of the Queen’s Day of yore.
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