Come over to participate in Amsterdam King’s Day – the greatest party in the Dutch calendar! You have probably heard about the King’s Day party in the Netherlands, when all the nation wears orange and goes crazy? Here is all the useful information.

What is the King’s Day?

Street party on the King's Day

Street party on the King’s Day

King’s Day – Koningsdag is the national holiday on the birthday of Willem Alexander, King of the Netherlands, celebrated nationwide by all the Dutch.

It is also the biggest national festivity and (free) street party in the Netherlands. In Amsterdam, the number of visitors that day – 750,000(!) is almost as big as the number of the inhabitants!

When is the King’s Day?

On the King's Day Amsterdam becomes just a little bit crowded

On the King’s Day Amsterdam becomes just a little bit crowded…

On 27 April – and as any other birthday, it’s celebrated only one day (plus a night before), so show up on time!

What is the King’s Night?

Actually, in some cities, mostly The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht, the King’s Night – Koningnacht is celebrated in the evening before the King’s Day – on 26 April, in theory at midnight, in practice earlier.

Wait… why did I hear about the Queen’s Day?

Because until 2013, the Netherlands had the Queen and although her birthday was on 31st January, she kept the tradition valid since 1949 to celebrate the Queen’s Day – Koninginnedag  – on 30 April – probably because it’s just much better to party in the late spring than in January ;) With the current King, the date was moved to the day of his birthday on 27 April.

Why everybody dresses orange for the occasion?

Dress code - Orange

Dress code – Orange

The Dutch royal dynasty is the House of Orange-Nassau, whose reign dates back to 1559. Thus, the orange colour playfully expresses the dynasty name – Orange.

Who celebrates the King’s Day?

Street celebrations for the King's Day in Amsterdam

Street celebrations for the King’s Day in Amsterdam

Everybody. The celebrations are held in all the towns throughout the country. However, the greatest celebrations take place definitely in the Dutch capital.

Would you like to meet the Royals?

Every year the King and the Queen celebrate the King’s Day in another town, so if you want to see the Royals in person or take a selfie together, on 27 April they will be in the town of Maastricht.

What time does it start and end?

There's plenty of live music on the streets of Amsterdam for the King's Day

There’s plenty of live music on the streets of Amsterdam for the King’s Day

Cafes and bars open already around 9:00. Most events start around midday and most people start gathering already at this hour. Party goes on for the entire day! There are lots of free festivals organized on many squares and streets around the city centre.

About the ending… it’s quite shocking. The street festivities finish at… 8 p.m.! Yes, not a.m., p.m., as unbelievable as it sounds, the celebrations cease at eight in the evening! But no worries, after that the party goes on in the pubs and discos until the morning.

Read all about the nightlife in Amsterdam here – best areas and best discos, pubs and coffeeshops.

How is the King’s Day celebrated?

Celebrating King's Day in Amsterdam

Celebrating King’s Day in Amsterdam

Basically like the carnival, but all in orange :) In other words: by dressing orange, drinking a lot and getting wild. Also, by flea markets. And in Amsterdam, partying in the boats on the canals!

What are all those flea markets around?

Flea market on every street

Flea market on every street

On King’s Day, the streets of Dutch cities turn into the biggest flea market in Europe! The wealth of Amsterdam was build on commerce, so there is a long tradition of making deals on sales, and that day a huge part of population of any age between 3 and 99 turns into salesmen. People sell all kinds of second hand items, bric-à-brac, collection items, clothes, kitsch things, homemade cookies and anything else. You can find some funny or original souvenirs or gifts this way. By the end of the day, the prices drop dramatically, as “one-day sellers” don’t want to go home with all that staff, so they rather tend to get rid of it at bargain prices.

Rules for celebrating the King’s Day

1. Dress orange

Orange is the key

Orange is the key

Definitely do it! It doesn’t matter whether you are Dutch or expat or tourist – orange is the colour of the day for everybody! The rule is: the more, the better. Everything goes: orange wigs, hats, sunglasses, shirts, dresses, suits, ties, orange flowers or feathers around your neck. Exaggerate. Be kitsch. Be creative. Be crazy. That’s the way to do it.

If you have no orange clothes or funny items, don’t worry – you will find plenty of street stalls selling kitsch orange items for the occasion.

2. Add the Dutch flag or a crown

The Queen for the King

The Queen for the King

You can also wear elements of clothing or decoration with the Dutch flag with red-white-blue stripes. Crowns are also popular: on the head, on sunglasses or as an ornament of clothes. But preferably only added to orange. Orange rules this day.

3. Drink beer

Beers, a flamingo and a canal - just another day in Amsterdam

Beers, a flamingo and a canal – just another day in Amsterdam

Well, beer is kind of orange (almost), right? Everybody is drinking beer all the time on the King’s Day, for two reasons: 1) because they drink it every day anyway – it’s definitely a beer country, and 2) because you need light alcohol when the festivity starts already at midday or so and goes on for entire day (& night). You will find plenty of street stalls selling beer everywhere. For better selection, look for some open shops and supermarkets. And please, throw trash in the garbage bins!

Read the detailed Guide to Typical Dutch Drinks – Beer & Spirits

4. Hop on a boat!

Boat party - the ultimate King's Day experience!

Boat party – the ultimate King’s Day experience!

Buy a boat tour, definitely! The absolutely ultimate Dutch experience is dancing like crazy dressed all in orange on one of the hundreds of overcrowded boats jamming at Amsterdam canals! It’s really, really cool and it’s totally worth it!

5. Party party party!

Party on the streets of Amsterdam

Party on the streets of Amsterdam

Mingle with the friendly crowd, it’s very easy to make friends this day! Literally everybody participates in the general street party! What I love about the Dutch is that they have fun in every age: you will see around you orange kids and orange elderly ladies, splendidly dressed and dancing with young crowd. Everybody is invited!

6. Festivals for the King’s Day

You can party easily just on the streets for free, but if you prefer a “pro” festival, there will be plenty for King’s Day, for instance:

Practical advice about the King’s Day

Cafes and bars will be open - and very orange

Cafes and bars will be open – and very orange

  • It’s a national holiday. Most companies and many shops will be closed.
  • Most museums will be closed on this day, however these – most important and most visited city museums will be OPEN on King’s Day: Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Anne Frank House (doublecheck at their website before the event).
  • Many grocery and alcohol shops will be open.
  • Pubs, bars and street food stalls will be open.
  • There is a common misconception that the public transport in Amsterdam is free on King’s Day – it isn’t. The usual tickets apply.
  • Most streets will be closed for traffic or completely jammed by crowds of people, so you will mostly walk – it will be difficult to move around even by bike, not even talking about a car. Take it account a looot of extra time when going for train or boat trip etc. – it will be difficult to get through the crowd.

If you have time and energy left – see our tips on top things to do in Amsterdam here.

Read the detailed Guide to Typical Dutch Drinks – Beer & Spirits

Knowing all this, you will be fine :)

Prepare that orange outfit and have a great time!

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