King's Day in Amsterdam

Amsterdam Kingsday event crown girls Amsterdam Kingsday event canal boats Amsterdam Kingsday event tunnel boat Amsterdam Kingsday event street musician Amsterdam Kingsday event city center crowd

King's Day (Dutch: Koningsdag) is a Dutch national holiday celebrated with joyful open air festivities. It is held on the King's Willem Alexander birthday in April. Amsterdam celebrations are the biggest and the most attractive. More than million people arrive to the city to celebrate this day.

Kingsday vs. Queensday

Since 1885, while the Netherlands had only female monarchs, this national holiday has been called Queensday (Konninginnedag). However in 2013, Queen Beatrix son Crown Prince Willem Alexander has taken the throne as the King of the Netherlands. The Queen abdicated and became Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands. Since then, the Queensday has become the King's Day.

Amsterdam King's Day celebration date

King's Day is celebrated each year on the April 27th. Which the birthday of the King Willem Alexander. But when the King's birthday falls on Sunday, celebrations are moved to Saturday.

What happens on King's Day

  • Street carnival
  • Street market
  • Boat sailing through the canals
  • Dancing and singing
  • Monarch portraits on display
  • Streets decorated with Dutch flags and the color of orange
  • Many people dress up as the King or wear the King's insignia
  • Almost all try to have an orange accent in their clothing
  • Eating street food
  • Drinking beer or orange juice

Dressing in Orange

Celebrating King's Day means dressing in orange clothes. The reigning dynasty is The House of Orange and this is their color. Painting faces and hair orange, drinking drinks of this color, wearing orange crowns, dressing as the king or the queen and making jokes at the royal family. These are parts of the King's day celebrations.

Free market (Vrije markt)

The Dutch, traditionally the nation of sailors and merchants, celebrate their most important national holiday with selling and buying of objects from their households. The prices are mostly symbolic.

Fun is the most important here. The tradition is to negotiate about the price.

Boat Parade 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.

Kingsland festival

A large dance event happening at the RAI center in Amsterdam on King's day. You can see more details and book your ticket at this:
Kingsland festival webpage.

King's night

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

Amsterdam transportation during Kingsday

As the large part of the Amsterdam centre is fully filled with celebrating crowds, no transport is possible here. You will have to walk. No cars are allowed to the Amsterdam centre. All public means of transportation, including trains, have a special schedule for this day.

The King and The Queen Consort meet the people

Traditionally, on this day, the King Willem Alexander with his wife Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visit one of the cities in the country to meet the celebrating people. Television reports live on these meetings during the day.

Amsterdam accommodation for Queensday

If you plan to visit Amsterdam during Kingsday make your accommodation reservation many months in advance. There is absolutely no chance to find a good hotel or even youth hostel on the last minute, any private apartments or bed and breakfasts are usually taken months in advance.

Different Amsterdam areas on the King's Day

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

Museumplein - 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 the free market for kids on King's Day. Only children may sell their toys and books here. Children are performing here on different instruments they learned to play. 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 most crowded 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 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 to buy drinks or some items on the market.
  • Avoid valuables in your pockets. You will walk in dense crowds. Not all visitors to Amsterdam arrive with good intentions.
  • Consider forgetting about your camera for this one special day. Take part in the event.
  • Avoid buying the King's Day special bargains. Their quality will be similar to their price.
  • 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.