The annual Dutch national holiday in honor of the King
Why You Should Visit Amsterdam on April 27
On this day in Amsterdam, orange is the new everything. And everyone. This fun-filled event takes over the entire city and there’s not a place in town that isn’t covered in orange confetti, glitter, flags and face paint. But it’s not just orange that fills the street. There are food, fun, music, drinks and happy people dancing and having a great time on the best day of the year. Locally known as Koningsdag, it is held every 27th of April and everyone is invited to join the celebration of this National holiday. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a boat in a canal, roaming the overflowing streets or chillin’ at the park: as long as you’re outside where all the Dutchies are. And with your Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket, you’re one step ahead of the crowd.
Don’t get Mixed Up
Formerly this day was referred to as Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day, in honor of the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina back in 1885. Her daughter Juliana later ascended to the throne in 1949 and the date was changed to the 30th of April to reflect her birthday.
When Princess Beatrix became queen, she decided to keep the tradition alive, mainly because her birthday is in January and that’s a little chilly for an outdoor party. But when she passed on the baton to her son, King Willem-Alexander, he changed the date to his birthday, the 27th of April. The year after the change a number of confused tourists with outdated guide books made the news by showing up fully dressed in orange while everyone else was still hung over from the actual King’s Day. In theory, King’s Day serves to show respect and pride to the House of Orange-Nassau, the Dutch Royal Family. In practice, it’s just a great excuse to party.
The canals are nothing short of spectacular as boats filled with bright colors and wild decorations take over the canals in their thousands. You can choose to dance in one of these boats or you can opt to stand on one the many bridges and watch all the ac tion from a higher viewpoint.
And then there are the parties. This public holiday is the perfect occasion to move your feet and that’s exactly what most Dutch do. But it’s not just them, tourists flock into town from other parts of Europe and the world to partake in the fun. Over 700.000 people make their way to the capital for the King’s birthday, which is a lot considering the number of inhabitants is only 820.000. There are never any warm weather guarantees, but the party is on regardless.
King’s Day traditions
The partying generally begins on the eve of King’s Day, the 26th, and continues till the end of the day on the 27th. When you walk back to your stay in the early hours of the 27th don’t be shocked to see people sitting on little camping chairs on the street or sidewalk. They’re holding their spot, probably in a popular area, for the ‘free-trade market’. On King’s Day, everyone is allowed to sell (almost) anything without a permit. Other people take less drastic measures and simply mark their spot as ‘bezet’, which means ‘taken’, with tape or chalk. Early birds get up when the sun rises to hunt for hidden treasures and bargains on those free markets throughout the city. People sell literally everything and it’s a good place to start your King’s Day and buy that missing orange piece and some yummy home-baked goods. You’ll see lots of kids practicing their sales skills by vending the toys they’ve grown out of, playing music, organizing games to play and convincing you to try your luck at their ‘grabbelton’ (grab bag). Food stalls are set up everywhere around the city to keep the masses well fed.
King’s Day Etiquette
Wearing orange is optional? Not on King’s Day! Excuses like ‘I don’t have anything orange’ and ‘orange is not my color’ are utterly invalid as every store sells something orange on the days before the day and trust us on this one: no one looks good in orange. Neither do we, but we still wear it. It’s our national color and there’s no way out. The only place in the Netherlands where nobody wears orange on King’s Day is prison and that’s not where the party’s at. Talking about prison. The ‘free market’ concept doesn’t apply to alcohol and drugs. But that being said, plenty of people ignore the rules and sell delicious cocktails on the streets for a ‘habbekrats’ (almost nothing) and police generally look the other way when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Want to eat a traditional King’s Day treat? Head over to Hema, the most Dutch shop of all Dutch shops and buy the orange version of their usually pink ‘tompouce’. It’s a local adaption of the mille-feuille and although not as refined as the French one, it’s definitely more delicious.
King’s Night in Amsterdam
King’s Day starts the night before and parties in honor of the King are thrown everywhere in town. They’re often themed and sometimes require you to dress up in orange or as a member of the royal family. Dutch people never shy away from making fun of their royals, so definitely expect a pun or two here and there. Are you ready to party? King Willy surely is, so get that Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket ready and head over to where it’s party time.
Chicago Social Club
At this Rewind X LOBI King’s Night event the Social Club will play the hottest hits from back then & right now. The Jackson 5, Nelly, Usher and Beyoncé are all attending the party and expect to hear many more guests like them. An outstanding start of the best day of the year begins here. Check the Amsterdam Nightlife Calendar to see this event but don’t wait too long, tickets are flying over the counter.
FAME Kingsnight takes over The Box. It’s our King’s birthday and we must show him we care by celebrating BIG. FAME presents a royal line-up with a majestic selection of Urban DJ’s who will reign the club. The entertainment will be unforgettable so make sure to secure your spot and check the event in the Amsterdam Nightlife Calendar. The door host wants to be impressed by what you’re wearing, so make sure to look aristocratic, orange or both.
Where to Celebrate King’s Day
It’s Monday so there’s no need to get up early unless you want to score those bargains at the market first, and the flow of people usually starts moving around noon. Take a tour around the city center to start off your day and soak up the traditional vibes before heading over to one of the many smashing festivities around.
Kings and Queens rise to the throne at Bear-Necessity and get ready to shine. This royal gathering gets bigger and better every year and 2020 is no exception. Club Panama gives a brand new meaning to the 9 to 5 mentality with this grand celebration that begins at 9 pm and doesn’t stop until the early hours of the next day. Brace yourself for a Kingly affair that gets sparkly, furry and hot! Find this event on the Amsterdam Nightlife Calendar and head over to Panama.
The streets of Amsterdam
If the sun is shining and temperatures are on the rise, grab some drinks and sit down on the side of a canal. You will see hundreds of boats, big and small, packed with people singing and dancing to music blasting from their speakers. It’s a spectacular sight to see and one you should definitely witness with your own eyes.
Maneuver your way to one of Amsterdam’s bigger parks, Vondelpark or Westerpark, to mix the party vibes with some lovely relaxation on the grass. You’ll see people sitting on blankets everywhere, eating, drinking, and playing instruments and games. It’s a great way to sit back for a minute and process the madness.
For traditional feels and a taste of some good old Dutch ‘gezelligheid’, go to the Jordaan area. You’ll find smaller stages with bands, DJ’s and solo artists showing off their musical skills on squares and even in small streets. Start at the central station and pass through the ‘Haarlemmerdijk’ on the way there, it’s always packed with food and happy people.
Options for the evening of King’s Day brought to you by your Amsterdam Nightlife Ticket are John Doe with hip-hop, R&B, future, bubbling, dancehall and afro beats and Club Nova giving you hip-hop, R&B and eclectic. Both places have a strict dress code, so make sure you dress to impress. Club Escape and the Chicago Social Club also have a club night on, so there’s plenty to options to extend your King’s Day into a night not to be forgotten.
Wise Words from the King.
Public transport in the city center on King’s Day? Nope. Driving around the canals on your rental bike? Forget it. Walking to the Jordaan area from Amsterdam’s central station takes about 10 minutes on a regular day, but on King’s Day it can take over an hour and that doesn’t include drinking stops. Your feet are the only way of transport on this day so make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes.
In a jam-packed city where the beer is flowing richly, there never seem to be enough toilets for everyone. Getting to the nearest one might seem like a never-ending journey and finding a quiet spot is not going to happen on this day. So keep your eyes out for open doors topped with ‘WC’ signs. Locals benefit from the shortage of toilets and open theirs to the public. Trust us, there comes a moment where you will gladly pay €3 to go into a total stranger’s house to use their restroom.