By Liselotte van Balen
— King’s Day is the one day of the year when the city of Amsterdam turns completely orange as people gather for the biggest party of the Netherlands. Observed for the first time in the 1880s, this relatively young tradition marks the celebration of the Monarch’s birthday.
At the end of the 19th century the reigning King William III was widely disliked by the Dutch for his selfish and malicious character. Many celebrations in his name had failed to unite the people like he hoped they would. Not all hope was lost, however, as William III had a four-year-old daughter, Wilhelmina, who was admired by the Dutch people. Parading her down the streets on the first ‘’Princess’s Day’’ turned out to be a great success. As she was still a child, the initial celebrations mostly centered around hosting fun activities for kids. When Wilhelmina inherited her father’s throne, the name of the celebration was officially changed to Queen’s Day, which has now been turned to King’s Day with the inauguration of the current Monarch, King Willem-Alexander.,Although the party no longer solely centers around a parade, one activity has stayed central to the celebrations: flea markets. From six in the morning until eight in the evening anyone is free to sell and buy goods on the street, entirely tax-free! So if you want to get rid of some old stuff or get yourself a bargain, this is your chance! Keep in mind that there are a few rules you have to abide by if you do not have a permit and want to sell something on King’s Day: you are not allowed to sell anything containing alcohol in it, nor can you sell any drinks from glass bottles. In addition, you are not allowed to sell perishable foods, so no home baked goods unfortunately. But don’t worry, you will still be able to eat and drink like a King, as many stands in the street do in fact sell snacks and drinks.
The most popular food to eat on King’s Day is the tompouce, a rectangular pastry filled with jelly and topped with sweet icing. Most commonly served in pink, its color is often changed to orange for the day’s celebrations. Once you have gotten yourself a lovely tompouce and a nice drink to go with it, it’s time to sit down by the canals and enjoy the festivities. If you have a boat, or know someone who does, this is the best day to get it in the water.
If all the above proves too tame for your taste, you can also purchase a ticket to one of the eight major dance festivals taking place that day in Amsterdam: Kingsland Festival, Nassau Festival, Loveland van Oranje, Bakermat & Friends (Kings’ Day special), Thuishaven Kingsday, Oranjebloesem, VOLT Koningsdag, or Kroongetuige Kingsday. The capacities of these range from 1,500 to 35,000 people. Ticket costs vary, but expect to pay between €20 and €60 on average. If you find one you like, try and get yourself a ticket immediately, as they often sell out quickly.
If you are really serious about partying, you can already start from the night before, officially called King’s Night. Most clubs in Amsterdam celebrate the occasion, and so do some festivals.Whatever you decide to do, your stay in the city is not complete without having celebrated King’s Day.