by Aimee Kinniburg, Universiteit van Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Once a year, every year on April 27th, the city of Amsterdam transforms into a vibrant sea of orange, welcoming locals and visitors alike to celebrate King’s Day, the biggest national holiday in the Netherlands. Thousands upon thousands of people flood the streets of Amsterdam to celebrate the birthday of the King. This was easily a highlight of my time in Amsterdam, however, there are some very useful things to know before you embark on this day of festivities that will ensure you have the best day possible.
1. Wear Orange:
Orange is the colour of the Dutch royal family, and on King’s Day, it is everywhere. To blend in with the locals and show your festive spirit, be sure to wear as much orange as possible. Whether it’s a shirt, hat, scarf, or even face paint, wearing orange is an essential part of the Kings’ Day experience.
2. Book Your Own Boat in Advance:
One of the best ways to experience King’s Day is by cruising along Amsterdam’s picturesque canals on your own private boat. However, boat rentals are in high demand. To secure your spot, it’s essential to book well in advance. We luckily had a very organised friend who booked a boat for a large group of us in the morning of Kings Day until around 2 pm, and it was absolutely a highlight of the day for me. It is quite pricey but well worth it to immerse yourself in the festivities.
3. The City Becomes a Flea Market:
Another element of King’s Day that I wasn’t aware of before I went are the street markets. Amsterdam transforms into a massive open-air flea market, known as the “vrijmarkt.” The streets are lined with blankets, tables, and stands as locals set up shops to sell their second-hand goods. We had a lot of fun wandering the streets in the afternoon and browsing what was on offer, but a top tip is to go early if you want to get the real bargains.
4. Lively Street Parties:
One of my favourite elements of Kings Day was the street parties. Amsterdam’s neighbourhoods come alive with exuberant street parties during King’s Day. Each district boasts its own unique ambience and activities, catering to diverse tastes and preferences. The Jordaan neighbourhood is renowned for its traditional folk music, while the Nieuwmarkt area features vibrant electronic music and DJ sets. Once you went the canal belt in the centre of the city it’s impossible to miss the music blasting from all corners so be prepared for lively dancing and singing that continues well into the night.
5. Food, Drinks, and Traditional Delicacies:
No celebration in Amsterdam is complete without indulging in delicious food and drinks. Throughout the city, food stalls and vendors offer an array of treats, including the quintessential Dutch street food, like herring and bitterballen. Don’t forget to accompany your food with a refreshing pint of locally brewed beer or a traditional Dutch orange on offer throughout the city