King's Day is a huge happening in the Netherlands. It used to be called Queen’s Day, but the date was effortlessly moved to King Willem Alexander’s birthday three years ago, when Queen Beatrix abdicated the throne.
With it came new songs, t-shirts printed with the king’s face and a royal Dutch party atmosphere. By now, King’s Day is as much of a cultural phenomenon as Queen’s day ever was!
Party in the streets
On King’s Day, the cities fill with outdoor parties and activities, turning the whole of the Netherlands into the biggest street festival of the year. People head out to celebrate, play music, make use of the temporary lift on sales permits by selling their goods, dress up and have an all-round good, if chaotic, time.
Five of the most active King’s Day cities are Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven. Check out how they will be celebrating on April 27!
Take to the canals in Amsterdam
The Amsterdam vrijmarkt (free market) starts at 6am. Interesting areas to check out include the Pijp, the Beethovenstraat, the Olympic Stadium, Amstelveld, Noordermarkt, Westerpark, the Jordaan and the DSM Vrijhaven. The Marie Heinekenplein will be filled with local entrepreneurs offering drinks and snacks.
Annual Amsterdam King’s Day parties to attend include:
See the carnival in Rotterdam
Rotterdam is known for its large number of King’s Day parties and activities, as well as the distinctive atmosphere on the streets.
The Rotterdam vrijmarkt is from 9am until 5pm. You can find most of it in the city centre, around the Coolsingel, Hofplein, Hoogstraat and the Blaak. Check out some of the following annual Rotterdam King’s Day parties:
Explore in The Hague
King’s Day in The Hague has a unique identity with several activities in the city centre, near the canals. There will be various walks, tram tours and boat tours around the local palaces and monuments.
The vrijmarkt is centred around the Frederik Hendriklaan from 7am until 4pm. Many shops will be open and there is a special children’s programme. The Lage Voorhout and the Frederik Hendrikplein will be hosting a few great carnivals.
Start early in Utrecht
The vrijmarkt in Utrecht takes up a large part of the city centre, from Vredenburg to the Wijde Begijnhof. It starts early at 6pm on King’s Night and lasts until 6pm on King’s Day.
A grand party will be popping up behind Utrecht Central Station at the Jaarbeurs. The Kingshouse Festival can host up to 15.000 people and has two stages. Other parties in Utrecht take place in central venues such as the terrace square Neude, TivoliVredenburg and the Winkel van Sinkel.
Dance in Eindhoven
Eindhoven is such a popular King’s Day location for its parties that there are special notifications, which warn about crowding and busy areas. Parties in Eindhoven feature various famous DJs and well-known artists.
The Eindhoven vrijmarkt, called the Oranjemarkt, takes place at the PSV Laan next to the Philips stadium from 9am until 5pm.
King’s Night is celebrated the night before King’s Day. Various wild parties in the city centres attract crowds from miles around. Many people head out to Amsterdam, but there are various other hotspots. In The Hague, for instance, the free Life I Live Festival is annually visited by almost 200.000 people, and in Rotterdam and Eindhoven there are several all-night parties with live music.
Video credit: Sanish Kumar