One celebration that CANNOT be missed in the Netherlands is April 27th… KING’S DAY! I had never heard of King’s Day prior to coming to Amsterdam. I knew that the Dutch national color was orange but didn’t know it was linked to the first king of the Netherlands—Willem who was the Prince of Nassau and Orange! This day celebrates the current king, King Willem’s, birthday throughout all of the Netherlands.The whole country breaks out in festival and spirit to commemorate the day. This day was once “Queen’s Day” in honor of the former queens of the Netherlands, Juliana and Beatrix.
Stores were flooded with orange clothing, accessories, and foods. There are lots of celebrations the night before King’s Day all over the country called King’s Night. These festivities that go until early morning continue on King’s Day.
My friends and I decked ourselves in orange clothing that morning and headed to the Amsterdam city center. There were tons of people already and people selling things in the street. Something that surprised me about King’s Day is that the country lifted permit restrictions for the day for street vendors. This meant that anyone could sell things on the street! It’s even a tradition for little kids to sell their toys which I think is so hilarious!
We made it to Jordaan and there was tons of live music, street vendors, and dancing in the streets! We enjoyed the live music and splurged €2 on a polaroid picture on the street from two little kids. There were so many people smiling and singing on every corner. We walked all the way to the Rijksmuseum by De Pijp and absorbed Museumplein (and burgers!) Museumplein, instead of its normal green grass, had turned orange from the sheer number of people!
There were people relaxing and enjoying the King’s Birthday. I of course have celebrated many Fourth of July but I’ve never experienced something like this! King’s Day. One of my favorite parts of the day were all of the boats in the canals. I had never seen the canals so packed and people even set off orange smoke balloons which filled the entire street with an orange hue. With the potted orange tulips in celebration of the big day, it was the epitome of the Netherlands and Amsterdam!
If you’re traveling to Amsterdam during King’s Day, I would suggest avoiding biking due to the large crowds and to check public transportation schedules because there may be delays due to the holiday. Restaurants were also super crowded so I would plan on booking reservations in advance!
This was definitely one of my favorite days in Amsterdam and we lucked out with perfect weather during a week of lots of rain! I would suggest visiting Jordaan, De Pijp, and Vondelpark as they had lots of music, street vendors, and dancing. The little kid vendors are too funny not to visit as well. Hope I can come back to Amsterdam for King’s Day again in the future!
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Hi! My name is Rachel Alliker and I am a Junior Psychology major and Spanish and Honors Forum double minor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY! I am from Greenwich, CT and I’m excited to be studying abroad in Amsterdam with IES (Spring 2023). At Skidmore, I am one of the head tour guides, a Writing Center tutor, a sustainability office volunteer. I’m also a part of the Positive Psychology Lab and Co-Vice President of the Honors Forum. Outside of academics, I love to bake, read, spend time with my friends and my dogs.