King's Day (Koningsdag)
the largest and most colorful festivals in the Netherlands
On April 27, the Dutch celebrate 'Koningsdag' (King's Day), a national holiday to commemorate the birthday of King Willem-Alexander (27 April 1967). It is by far the most widely celebrated holiday in the Netherlands. Amsterdam is packed to the gills on April 27, welcoming up to 2 million party-going visitors.
King's NightKing's Day festivities begin on King's Night, 26 April. King's Night is the start of the celebrations, with many cafés, pubs, night clubs and bars hosting special King's Night events and parties to get the party going. On King's Night cafés are allowed to stay open until 4am.
In recent years, King's Day (formerly Queen's Day) has become more and more of an open air party, particularly in Amsterdam, which attracts anywhere from 500,000 to 2 million visitors. Since King's Day is a national holiday and thus a day off, many people also go out and party on the evening before King's Day. This evening is called 'Koningsnacht' (King's Night).
History of King's DayThe Dutch have been observing Queen's Day on April 30 since 1949, when the new Queen Juliana ascended the throne. Before then, the holiday fell on August 31, the birthday of Juliana's mother, former Queen Wilhelmina.
When the current Queen Beatrix succeeded Juliana in 1980, she chose to keep Queen's Day on April 30, as Beatrix's own birthday is January 31, a date when Dutch weather isn't conducive to the many outdoor activities associated with the holiday. After King Willem-Alexander succeeded Beatrix it was no practical problem to change it to the king's birthday on April 27.
ActivitiesThe color orange is a common sight on King's Day, as it represents the House of Orange , which is the name of the current Dutch dynasty. The colour orange dominates the street sight with orange flags and banners, clothing, orange colored foods and drinks, and even ordinary consumer goods.
Free marketThe holiday is also a 'vrijmarkt' (free market) day where people set up stalls on the streets to sell household goods they no longer need. Typically, many children sell their toys: some entrepreneurs also sell food and beverages. By the end of the day, much of the unsold is left on the streets.
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