How to celebrate King’s Day like a Dutchie

How to celebrate King’s Day like a Dutchie

The King’s birthday is coming up - April 27 - and you know what that means… The country erupts into an explosion of orange and parties break out almost everywhere. So, how do you celebrate the day like a real Dutchie would?

Throw on all the orange you can find in your closet

Orange is the national colour of the Netherlands, so to truly celebrate like a Dutchie, you need to dive into your closet and put on all the orange items you can find - and I mean all of them.

It’s not weird to see people roaming around in orange suits on King’s Day - so head to toe in orange. Orange cowboy hats and crowns are also a favourite, but be sure to get them in advance. Otherwise, you’ll end up forking out quite a bit of cash for what is essentially a piece of coloured plastic or cardboard.

Eat a Dutch delicacy for breakfast

So, you’re dressed, now for some breakfast. What are you going to have? Cereal? No. Toast? Don't be silly! Today is King’s Day, so a vitamin-rich start to the day is off the menu. Today, you’re going to eat the cream-filled delicacy that is a tompouce. To mark King’s Day, your tompouce must have a layer of orange icing. It’s all about orange today, after all.

To have the authentic Dutch experience, you’ll need to get your tompouce from Hema - anything else is sacrilege. But be careful when you eat it, as tompouce can be especially difficult to eat without getting it everywhere. You wouldn’t want to ruin your orange outfit now, would you?

By the way, did you know that the first tompouce was made by a confectioner from Amsterdam in 1858? Of course, only the name is Dutch, as the tompouce is originally French. You might recognise it by the name millefeuille.

Wander aimlessly around rommelmarkten or host your own stand / blanket

You’ve got some sustenance in your stomach, now it's time to head on out for something Dutch to the max. For one day in the year, you get to buy other people’s junk or sell your own without having a permit. Of course, perhaps you’ll find a hidden gem - you never know. Don't forget to bring cash to the market, as a debit card won't get you very far.

People get really fanatical when it comes to rommelmarkt locations. Some even reserve a spot the week before! Municipalities have different rules in terms of when you can reserve a spot, how, and when the market starts and finishes. In Amsterdam, for example, the municipality prefers you to reserve your spot with chalk, not tape, and there are certain areas in which you may not hold a stall, and others specifically for children.

In Amsterdam, the rommelmarkt, otherwise known as vrijmarkt, starts at 6am and ends at 8pm. Make sure you check out what you can and can’t sell too! The sale of alcohol, for example, or meat / perishable foodstuffs etc. is not allowed.  

Watch the King on TV

It wouldn’t be King’s Day without the King, so it’s only fair to give him a little bit of attention by watching his birthday celebration on TV. This year, the King will be visiting Amersfoort – each year he visits a different Dutch city and they plan special activities for him.

Live music, theatre and a quiz are just some of the things the King has in store for this year’s celebration. The festivities, captured by NOS, will be broadcast on NPO 1 precisely from 10.49am to 1.31pm.

Celebrate with drinks

The Dutch celebration of the day involves one or two drinks. So, gather a group of friends, sit in the (hopefully it’s about) sun, and have a “gezellig” chill session with a few beers. In any case, your feet need a rest after all that walking around the rommelmarkt. This time between set activities is a prelude to the rest of the day / evening, so make the most of it.

Take to the water

Once you have had a few drinks with friends, it’s time to take to the water on a boat. This activity, of course, depends on where you live. Taking a boat ride is a popular option in Amsterdam and cities with canals running through them, but perhaps your city / town doesn’t have canals.

One thing you should consider is how much you’ve had to drink - throwing up over the side of a boat is not a good look for anyone. Also, be sure you are actually able to stay on the boat without falling off.

If the weather’s good, taking a boat ride through the canals is the perfect way to relax and recharge before the night’s festivities. You may even get a tan - or quite possibility sunburnt. Sunburn and drinking don’t mix well, so make sure you lather on the sun cream!

Optional: attend a concert or festival and party the night away

Now to get the real party started. King’s Day is to be celebrated until it is actually no longer King’s Day, i.e. the next morning. If you haven’t already got tickets to one of the happening events on Saturday, you need to look for some now! And I mean right now! If you don’t, you risk everything being sold out.

Dutchies plan on attending King’s Day festivals weeks and maybe even months in advance (got to love that agenda culture), so take a look at what’s on, and get tickets. Attending one of these concerts or festivals should be done in a large group - the more the merrier. This is also the time to test out your best, weirdest dance moves.

Have fun celebrating King’s Day!

That’s about it. All you need to know to celebrate King’s Day the Dutch way. Whatever you do, make sure you have fun and if you are drinking, drink responsibly. Have a great King’s Day!

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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