What country has a national holiday for a massive birthday party? The Netherlands! That day is today, 30th April, Queen’s Day or Konninginnedag. One of my favorite days in Amsterdam!
Koninginnedag dates back to 1885…first on 31 August for Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday, it then moved to it’s current date in honor of her daughter Juliana’s birthday who became queen in 1949. Current Queen Beatrix, Juliana’s daughter, decided to keep the 30 April date to honor her mom.
The Dutch truly know how to party and this day is the best example! It’s literally a giant country-wide party like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Friends who came to visit or newcomers to Amsterdam could not believe the craziness and fun. We were always in Amsterdam for it and the fun starts the night before, Koninginnenacht, with parties about town.
The next morning if you awake early, and it is worth it, vrijmarkt is in full swing, the free market…people selling their wares on the streets of the city. It’s a giant city (and country) wide yard sale…the one day it’s allowed, no taxes required. You may see the few days before people taping off key areas around town with their name so they have a prime selling spot. There are lots of fun kid activities going on, especially in Vondelpark. You’ll also find many kids trying to make their own money. My favorite was the year two cute girls were selling compliments for 20 cents each!
Orange is everywhere on Queen’s Day, the color of the Dutch Royal Family. By noon the partying is getting underway…djs start spinning and the canals start filling. Within a few hours it is absolute gridlock on the canals as boats of all sizes try fit one by one underneath the bridges. Most of the boats are giant party barges with bars, djs, the loudest speakers you’ve ever heard. People are hopping from boat to boat and at times you can even cross the canals by walking across the traffic jam of boats. 🙂 We never took our boat out or got on one. It was just fun to watch from the sidewalks and streets. All over town the neighborhoods, bars and cafes are throwing parties. Everywhere you turn is a beer stand and a dj.
By evening the chaos winds down, the streets are filled with remnants of the day and a good time was had by most. Rain or shine the Dutch are out for this national celebration and it’s definitely one for your Bucket List.