King’s day in Amsterdam 2016
Find out all you need to know about King’s Day in Amsterdam: the history and traditions, the best street parties, festivals and practical information.
In 2016 King’s Day Amsterdam will take place on Wednesday April 27th, 2016.
King’s Day (formerly Queen’s Day) is celebrated each year on April 27th, the birthday of the King Willem-Alexander (when the King’s birthday falls on Sunday, celebrations are moved to Saturday. This was the case last year, and celebrations will be held on Saturday April 26th, 2014)
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What is King’s Day Amsterdam?
King’s Day, Kingsday or “Koningsdag” (as the Dutch call it) has been the national holiday in Holland for over a century and is the biggest national event in Holland. Everything and everyone turns orange and celebrates on King’s Day. Amsterdam celebrations are the largest and the most attractive. Almost one million people arrive to the city to celebrate King’s day Amsterdam 2015.
The atmosphere on this day is traditionally relaxed and joyful. King’s Day in Amsterdam is a huge orange street party associated with street carnival, dancing and singing combined with an open air free market (vrijmarkt) in the whole city. There are outdoor stages for live music set up all around the city, and party people can drink beer and dance in the streets. In past years there have been huge gatherings at Museumplein and Rembrandtplein, but those big concerts have been relocated outside the center to make the crowds more manageable. Also the weather, usually mild and not too hot, makes King’s Day the day to be in Amsterdam!
King’s Day is formerly known as Queen’s Day
The world’s biggest street party has a new name: King’s Day. At the end of January 2013, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, announced her abdication after 33 years on the throne. Her oldest son Willem-Alexander became the new King of the Netherlands. The last Queen’s Day took place on Tuesday 30th of April, 2013. Since then, the Queensday has become the King’s Day.
King’s Night – The Night Before
King’s Night (Koningsnacht) kicks off the two-day party in Amsterdam. In the night before King’s Day in AMsterdam, bars and clubs in organize special parties and concerts during the King’s Night. Especially for the young people this is the night to be in Amsterdam. Celebrations continue to the next morning and often do not stop for another whole day.
What to do on King’s Day in Amsterdam 2015?
Free Flea Market – This free market, the so called “Vrijmarkt”, is a citywide street sale on King’s Day in Amsterdam. The Dutch love to trade, they have it in their blood. They celebrate their most important national holiday with buying and selling lots of small unnecessary objects from their homes on the streets and in the parks of Amsterdam. Anyone can set up a little spot and sell their household goods, books, used clothing and abandoned toys. But it’s not only second-hand goods on offer – plenty of food stalls spring up to sell all kinds of food! The “Vrijmarkt” on King’s Day in Amsterdam is a unique family event with children actively participating. Prices are symbolic and the most important is fun. Market activities starts at 9am, peak at 10am and end around 4pm. The Vondelpark is reserved for the kids. Only children may sell here their toys and books. The biggest “Vrijmarkt” in Amsterdam can be found at Beethovenstraat, Stadionweg and Apollolaan.
Canals – Also the canals are a very popular place to be on King’s Day. There is nothing like the sea of orange that fills the world famous canals on King’s Day in Amsterdam! People dance on boats and on the shore. If you know someone with a boat this is a great way to experience King’s Day. Or just catch a view from the streets and bridges along Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht, Singel or one of the smaller canals. In fact, the canals can get so crowded (especially Prinsengracht) that it might be possible to walk across the water by hopping from boat to boat.
Street Parties – The Wallen and Jordaan districts and the Nieuwmarkt and other big squares are the best place for big street parties. Locals and cafés have music and drinks in the street, so you can walk from one street party to the next.
Gay Parties – King’s Day in Amsterdam has, as a free-spirited colorful event, a special meaning for the LGBT community. Together with Gay Pride during the first week in August, King’s Day is one of Amsterdam’s two Mardi Gras. Main gay celebrations can be found at:
- along the Amstel between Muntplein and Waterlooplein,
- Westermarkt (Homomonument)
King’s Day in Amsterdam Festivals – The biggest parties are held outside of the old city center & canal belt to make the crowds more manageable on this day. To find the best place to party, besides the streets, parks and canals, we provide you a list of events for King’s Day in Amsterdam.
Please note: buying tickets in advance is required for the major paid events! Tickets will not be available on the day!
Why the color Orange?
You may wonder why nearly all Dutch people dress in orange during King’s Day in Amsterdam. After all, the colors of the official Dutch national flag are red, white, and blue. The answer is easy: Orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family, which descends from the House of Orange.
The House of Orange-Nassau (in Dutch: Huis van Oranje-Nassau), a branch of the German House of Nassau, has played a central role in the political life of the Netherlands — and at times in Europe — since William I of Orange (also known as “William the Silent” and “Father of the Fatherland”) organized the Dutch revolt against Spanish rule, which after the Eighty Years’ War led to an independent Dutch state.
– Source: Wikipedia
The color orange has come to symbolize the country, show national pride and almost everyone embraces this bright, happy color. This is also why many Dutch dress orange supporting the Dutch national soccer team and speed skating team.
Wear some orange – There are no rules set in stone that you have to wear orange on King’s Day in Amsterdam but a bit of orange in your outfit may help you get in the celebratory spirit! So don’t forget your orange t-shirt when you join the Dutch in the Orange Craze on King’s Day in Amsterdam.
Money – prepare some money change, you are going to need coins buy to drinks or some object on the market. Most ATM are very busy on that day or out of order.
Start at end Time – The free market starts around 10am, but most events begin at midday. The street market and nearly all outdoor events & festivals finish at 20:00.
Public Transport in Amsterdam – Public transport routes are adapted on Kingsday itself, with the buses and trams only running up to the outskirts of the city center.
Walking – You are going to walk a lot. Comfy shoes are needed.
Car travel on King’s Day – Traffic in the city center is limited on the day itself with the entire city center closed for cars from 07:30 onwards.
Taxis – The majority of the standard taxi stands in the city center are out of action on King’s Day.
Are the shops open? – Shops are allowed to open on King’s Day in Amsterdam, but the majority of the stores are closed for the day.
Alcohol on the streets – Officially you are allowed to carry one unit of regular alcoholic drink (under 15% alcohol) for your own consumption, but police won’t act if you take a bit more with you… To sell alcohol as part of the street market is not permitted. Beer and other drinks are usually easy to get on the streets. You can buy drinks at outside bars or from people who are (illegally) selling cans of beer and soda (prices between EUR 1.50 – EUR 2.50).
Hotels in Amsterdam – If you plan to visit Amsterdam on King’s Day, please book your hotel room well in advance. Most of the hotels in are fully booked for King’s Day in Amsterdam!
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