Kings Day is a national holiday in The Netherlands, and you want to visit my country during that time, which I can only recommend. Celebrating Kings Day is part of my Dutch identity. It’s my most favourite holiday of the year and it’s about time you will feel that way too. Here you will find all the information you need to experience and celebrate Kings Day and Kings Night in Amsterdam and the rest of The Netherlands like a local.
What is Kings Day in The Netherlands?
Kings Day is a national holiday in The Netherlands and one where we celebrate the birthday of our King. This means that Kings Day is celebrated throughout The Netherlands on the same day. King Willem- Alexander his birthday is on the 27th of April, this means that the date of Kings Day in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and the rest of The Netherlands is the 27th of April. Kings Day is celebrated on the 27th of April 2019, the 27th of April 2020, etc. However, there is one disclaimer. If Kings Day, the 27th of April, is on a Sunday, Kings Day will be celebrated on the 26th of April. Because Sunday is a resting day.
During Kings Day in The Netherlands, there are many events all throughout the country. You’ll see boat parties during Kings Day in Amsterdam, Utrecht and many other cities. Every year the King and Queen and their kids, plus family, will visit one or more municipalities in The Netherlands. In the municipalities, there are performances, workshops, games and much more things that the Royal family will participate in. They even throw with toilets. If that doesn’t make the family even more fun than I don’t know what. And yes, that’s a thing in The Netherlands, don’t ask me why.
Why does The Netherlands celebrate the birthday of Kings and Queens?
Kings Day has started on the 31st of August in 1885 as Princess Day. This was because of the 5th birthday of Princess Wilhelmina. The first time Queens Day was celebrated was actually after the death of King Willem the 3rd in 1890. Queens Day was at first a special day and holiday for the children of The Netherlands as it was also the last day of the summer break. Why anyone would celebrate that is beyond me, but okay. Later on, more people got a day off work and school, so it turned into a national holiday.
Queens Wilhelmina and Juliana celebrated Queens Day on their birthdays, the 31st of August and the 30th of April. Queen Beatrix didn’t celebrate Queens Day on her birthday as her birthday is on the 31st of January. Instead, Beatrix decided to keep Queens Day on the birthday of her mother, Queen Juliana.
When is it Kings Day and Queens Day in The Netherlands?
Quick story. When previous Queen, current Princess, Beatrix abdicated shortly before her 75th birthday on the 30th of April 2013, King Willem Alexander took over. Up until the 30th of April 2013, Queens Day was the name of this national holiday in The Netherlands. And the date was the 30th of April.
When King Willem Alexander became King in 2013 this date changed to his birthday, the 27th of April. But, guidebooks weren’t so quick with picking that up, nor did many tourists check the holiday on the internet even though the abdication was quite big news. Especially since our Queen decided it was time for her younger son to shine, at 74 years old, because he was and is better suited for the job. That meant there were hordes of tourists coming the last 5 years to The Netherlands to celebrate Queens Day. Which was sad for them, and if you’re one of them I’m sorry, but it was pretty funny to watch as a Dutch person.
No one was dressed in orange clothing. Not a single soul was drunk. And no one was dancing on boats in the canals. But there they were. Dressed up in orange. Expecting a party of a lifetime. I actually hope that people who experienced that have had the chance to return and to experience Kings Day.
Just to be clear once more, so you don’t end up like one of the sad tourists. Queens Day doesn’t exist anymore in The Netherlands. Kings Day does. Kings Day is celebrated in The Netherlands on the 27th of April unless that’s on a Sunday. If the 27th of April is on a Sunday, Kings Day will be celebrated on a Saturday.
How to celebrate Kings Night and Day in Amsterdam and the rest of The Netherlands, like Dutch people?
It can be difficult to figure out how to participate in a festival or national holiday like the locals do. But, in this case, I will be your help. If you read below you will figure out how you should celebrate Kings Day or Kings Night, like Dutch people.
Kings Night is the night before Kings Day and is celebrated all throughout The Netherlands. Because Kings Day is a free day, we like to take full advantage from it. Koningsnacht or Kings Night is celebrated in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Alkmaar, Den Haag, etc. In every city or small town, there will be celebrations on Kings Night and Kings Day. Dress up in orange!
Start the morning after Kings Night with dressing up in orange clothing (as much as possible), get some breakfast and go visit one of the thousands of flea markets that pop up on every street corner. The whole country of The Netherlands cleans their basements and attics for Kings Day, so we can sell some shit and occasionally something useful. Stroll passed these markets, give the children at the stalls and the ones playing an instrument some extra money and enjoy the friendly vibes.
After that, you have to eat a typical Dutch treat. A tompouce. To be clearer. An oranje tompouce. Don’t get them from the local supermarkets. Get an oranje tompouce from the local bakery or at the markets (if they still have them by that time, you will be very lucky if they are there). It is tasty and wonderful, filled with calories, but it makes you happy. Trust me. You need to get them the day before Kings Day as most places will be closed during Kings Day. National holiday. That means things close.
When you’re done eating a delicious tompouce, it’s time for lunch. I hope you have done your grocery shopping already if not run to the most nearby supermarket and hopefully you’re in luck. Some supermarkets in The Netherlands open on Kings Day until 12 or 16. But I would buy it the day before. At least. Finish the lunch with a little drink, called Oranjebitter. The name speaks for itself because it is bitter. And typical Dutch. It exists since 1620 and people drink it when there are festivities that involve the Royals of The Netherlands.
And now the time has come to go to the festivals, street parties (that are everywhere) or local bars. Celebrate Kings Day as the Dutch people do. Be nice, friendly, happy and excited. Don’t be an asshole and try to destroy an important holiday. And, wear orange.
When you’re visiting The Netherlands for a longer time, or around another period, and are interested in visiting other festivals, have a look at the best festivals to visit in The Netherlands here.
What outfit should you wear on Kings Day? And why do people dress up orange?
Orange orange orange. Why do Dutch people dress up in orange clothing during Kings Day? The name of our royal is officially the House of Orange. Orange is the national colour of The Netherlands. That means we wear as much orange clothing as possible on Kings Day. And you should too! Wear an orange wig, orange pants, an orange blouse, a shirt, shoes, watches, etc. Whatever you can think of wearing on Kings Day, wear it, but in orange.
Was this article useful for you? Is there anything else you’d like to know? Did you know that the best time to visit tulip fields is actually around the time of Kings Day? Talking about killing two birds with one stone. Click here for the article on where to find tulip fields without tourists. Do you know how to say happy Kings Day in Dutch? Fijne Koningsdag! I will guarantee you’ll be making friends if you say this to many Dutch people.