King’s Day may well be the best celebration/holiday in Holland. Today, we (Lion HQ Team) celebrate King Willem Alexander’s birthday with music, street parties, flea markets, and fun fairs. The king himself travels through the country with his family. On the night before King’s Day, King’s Night is celebrated with music shows in The Hague and other cities and the nation’s biggest flea (‘free’) market in Utrecht. If you you would like to experience Dutch hospitality and the orange crazyness, then King’s day would be an excellent day to visit Holland.
What Do People Do?
In many towns and cities, particularly Amsterdam, Arnhem, Utrecht and The Hague, the King’s Day celebrations begin on the evening before the day. Some people set up stalls to sell second-hand goods and King’s Day themed products in many city and town centers.
The day features official musical performances on King’s Day. Many people spontaneously sing “Het Wilhelmus”. This is a poem written in 1574 and describes the life of William of Orange (William the Silent) and his fight for the Dutch people. It is written as if William of Orange is introducing himself to the Dutch people. Versions are also played by bands performing at King’s Day events and on radio stations.
Each year, the royal family visits one or a few places on King’s Day. They are entertained with displays and performances around local historic events. Royal family members generally join in with the games in a good natured way and greet thousands of people who turn out to see them.
King’s Day is an official public holiday in the Netherlands. Banks, post offices, and many businesses are closed. Opening hours in stores vary. Some stores are open as usual, some are open for part of the day, and some are closed all day. Public transport runs to a normal or special timetable and there are extra train services to take people home from large celebrations. However, buses and trams in the center of large cities may have different or shortened routes to avoid the crowds. Restaurants may be shut, open as usual or only serving special “King’s Day” meals. Cafes and restaurants may close earlier than usual.
Due to mass celebration, it is difficult to reach many addresses in the center of large cities, especially Amsterdam by most forms of transport. Apart from minor criminal acts such as pick pocketing and urinating in public, King’s Day events are usually very peaceful. If King’s Day falls on a Sunday, the celebrations take place on the Saturday before that Sunday.
The monarch’s birthday has been a festive celebration in the Netherlands for many years. Queen’s Day was celebrated in 1890 after princess Wilhelmina became queen following the death of her father. Queen Juliana, Wilhelmina’s daughter, was crowned in 1948 and from 1949, the Queen’s Day celebrations honored her birthday on April 30. Queen Juliana’s daughter Beatrix became queen on April 30, 1980. Her birthday is on January 31, but Queen’s Day remained on April 30 – coinciding with Queen Beatrix’s own coronation day and her mother’s birthday.
In 2013 it was announced that as of 2014, Queen’s Day in the Netherlands would become King’s Day, to be celebrated on April 27 rather than on April 30. This announcement followed the queen’s abdication from the throne in favor of her eldest son Willem Alexander, whose birthday is on April 27.
The national flag of the Netherlands is a horizontal tricolor flag with red at the top, white in the middle and blue at the bottom. On some feast days, an orange strip of cloth, known as a wimpel, is hung above the national flag. This is a symbol for the Dutch royal family, which uses the name “House of Orange-Nassau”. The national flag and the colors red, white, blue and orange are widely displayed on King’s Day. Many people make a special effort to wear an orange item of clothing, to dye their hair orange or to color their faces orange. Accessories that combine the color orange with some symbol of the royal family, such as a crown or a lion, are especially popular.