King’s Day 2018 in the Netherlands

There is something special about April 27th in the Netherlands. Is it because people are out selling their household goods on the streets? Might it be because (almost) everyone has the day off and goes out celebrating with friends? Or is it because treasure seekers hope to find that one special item that will make them happy, or better yet: a millionaire?

Whatever it is, the Dutch King’s Day festival is huge, and everyone deserves to be a part of it.

History: A Day of Many Names and Dates

The tradition, now known as King’s Day, began in 1885. Princess Wilhelmina’s fifth birthday was the trigger. Her birthday, on August 31st, was so celebrated by the entire country that it became the first Princess’ Day. When Wilhelmina went from princess to queen, the day was changed in name to Queen’s Day.

In 1948, Queen Juliana succeeded to the throne and continued the tradition, but since her birthday was on April 30th, the date of Queen’s Day changed. When she in turn was succeeded by Queen Beatrix, the date (in honour of her mother) was kept on April 30th and was celebrated all the way up to 2013. Then the Dutch got something they have not had since the late 19th century: a king. King Willem-Alexander’s birthday is on April 27th, and thus—long live the king—King’s Day is celebrated on April 27th.

The Celebration

King Willem-Alexander is throwing a party, and everyone’s invited. The streets are filled with people selling second hand items: clothes, books, kitchen appliances, and much, much more. Rows and rows of tables (or blankets on the ground) fill the cities with merchandise. The streets, more crowded than on any other day, are filled with a party atmosphere and lots of orange.

Too excited to wait until the 27th? During King’s Night (Koningsnacht) some of Amsterdam’s best clubs and bars run special King’s Night parties and events.

The King and his family don’t miss the party either. Every year they choose a city to visit and celebrate with the people. This year, if you want to catch a glimpse of royalty, go to Groningen because that is where the royal family will be.

Other City Highlights

The Hague: Experience street markets and activities, especially around the Statenkwartier and Noordeinde after a night listening to bands and DJs performing during King’s Night.

Eindhoven: Enjoy performances and flea markets in the city’s squares.

Utrecht: Find the biggest street market of King’s Day, with stalls opening the night before.

The King’s Day festival is by far the biggest festival in the Netherlands. It is something special to witness and to be a part of. If you have a chance, go and see it for yourself. Bring your friends, bring your family, and bring the colour orange. It will be an unforgettable day.

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