King's Day in Amsterdam

in 2017:  Thursday, April 27th 2017

King’s Day (Dutch: Koningsdag), is the National holiday celebrated with joyful open air festivities on the King’s Willem- Alexander birthday, held each year in April in the Netherlands. Amsterdam celebrations are the biggest and the most attractive. More than million people arrive to the city to celebrate this day. Since 1885, while the Netherlands had through generations only female monarchs, this has been the national holiday called Queensday (Konninginnedag). However in 2013, Queen Beatrix son Crown-Prince Willem-Alexander has been enthroned as the King of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while the Queen abdicated and became Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands. Since then, the Queensday has become the King’s Day.

King’s Day is celebrated each year on April 27th, the birthday of the King Willem-Alexander, but when the King’s birthday falls on Sunday, celebrations are moved to Saturday. This year the celebrations will be held on Monday, April 27, 2016.

King’s Day traditionKingsday Celebrations

Street carnival, dancing and singing combined with the open air free market, selling and buying of all kinds of small objects by almost all Amsterdam citizens. Traditionally the reigning monarch portraits are on display and streets are decorated with national Dutch flags and the color of orange, the traditional color of the monarchy and the symbol of Dutch patriotism. Many any people dress up as the King or wear the King’s insignia, while almost all try to have an orange accent in their clothing. This is also the day to eat in the streets exotic food Indonesian, Surinamese, Moroccan or Turkish and drink beer or orange juice. A glass of Heineken or Amstel sold in the street will be between €1.50 and €2.50.

King’s night

Festivities start already in the evening before the King’s Day, called appropriately the King’s Night. Amsterdam clubs organize during the King’s Night special parties and concerts. Celebrations continue to the morning of the King’s Day, and often do not stop for another whole day.

Kingsday Street MarketFree market (Vrije markt)

The Dutch, traditionally the nation of sailors and merchants, celebrate their most important national holiday with selling and buying of small unnecessary objects from their households. The prices are mostly symbolic. Starting as early as 7 A.M., the whole city center becomes a street market. Most of people are selling their stuff directly in front of their house. Fun is the most important here - do not expect to buy anything of value. The tradition is to negotiate about the price and it happens, especially when children are trading, that buyer raises the price to show the playful character of this festive business. Market activities peak at 11 A.M. and end around 4 P.M.

Boat Parade - King's Day on the canals

A festive boat parade takes place for several hours in early afternoon, usually along the Prinsengracht canal. People dance on boats and on the shore. Sometimes some boats stop at the shore and will be willing to invite you to their floating party. Check the actual info for the boat parade parkour.

Different Amsterdam areas on the King’s Day

In different parts of the city the festivities take different course of action:

Kingsday Street PerformersMuseumplein - pop concerts

Museumplein is a traditional place for a big open air pop and disco music festival. A crowd of young people is listening, often camping on the grass of the square.

Vondelpark - kids market

Vondelpark becomes on the King’s Day the free market for kids. Only children may sell here their toys and books. Children are performing here on different instruments they learn to play at school or at home. It is a custom to admire them all, also those who are just the absolute beginners.

Jordaan - crowded market with folk singers music

The old area of the Jordaan, traditionally poor district of the city but now trendy Amsterdam area, becomes on the King’s Day most crowded free market area. Many folk singers are performing popular Amsterdam songs directly in the streets.

South Amsterdam - the biggest market

Area close to the streets Beethovenstraat, Stadionweg and Apollolaan in South Amsterdam (Amsterdam Zuid) becomes on King’s Day the biggest street market, with most of the shopkeepers opening their special King’s Day stands there.

Westermarkt and Reguliersdwaarstraat - Gay parties

The most important gay parties are held on the Westermarkt at the Homo Monument and at the Reguliersdwarsstraat, where gay clubs are, in a 10 minutes walking distance from Leidseplein. Dancing there will usually start already in an evening before, during the King’s Night.

Useful tips:

  • If you are considering moving around town read this article about Kingsday transportation
  • wear a pair of good shoes, you are going to walk and dance a lot
  • prepare some money change, you are going to need coins buy to drinks or some object on the market
  • avoid valuables in your pockets, you will walk in a dense crowd, not all visitors to Amsterdam arrive with good intentions
  • consider forgetting about your camera for this one, special day. Take part in the event! Free Queensday pictures and our videos: Queensday in Amsterdam and Queensday in the Jordaan video. You can download them free from our web site.
  • avoid buying the King’s Day special bargains, their quality will be similar to their price.

    Accommodation for King’s Day

  • If you intend to visit Amsterdam on the King’s Day, please reserve your hotel room well in advance. It will be all booked on this day!