Ways to celebrate King's Day in 2021

Ways to celebrate King's Day in 2021

A "normal" King's Day won't be possible, for the second year in a row! This national holiday is the most unmissable event on the Dutch social calendar in a typical year. But, more than a year on from the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we're in for another year of a low-key King's Day without parties

It's possible to enjoy celebrating whilst sticking to the important social distancing measures - we learned that last year!

Celebrate King's Day remotely

The Royal Association of Orange (KBVO), which devises the special yearly celebration, came up with safe and fun ways to mark this important day from home. Here are a few ideas on how you can still have a King's Day to remember:

Blue, white and red... and orange!

Walk down any street and you'll see Dutch national flags in blue, white and red hung from windows and balconies, as well as orange flags or bunting, to honour the Dutch royals! You'll be likely to see other kinds of orange decorations on front windows and balconies, too. Get your orange t-shirt out of the wardrobe and get in the spirit of King's Day!

Eat tompouce

King's Day is an occasion for a sweet pastry - of course, with orange icing! It's tompouce! This delicious pastry with a creamy filling and bright orange icing on top is a must-have for King's Day! The most popular one comes from Hema, but you're sure to find it in any supermarket or bakery at this special time of year! At other times of year tompouce still exists - but with pink or white icing instead of orange, of course!

Tompouce is based on the French confectionary millefeuille, which means "a thousand layers". But the name "tompouce" actually stems from Admiral Tom Pouce, the stage name of a Frisian public figure of short stature whose real name was Jan Hannema. Admiral Tom Pouce in turn was named after another performer whose stage name was General Tom Thumb.

Traditional Dutch King's Day pastry Tompouce

Play or sing the Dutch National Anthem

Do you play an instrument? Do you like to sing? Then why not play or sing the Dutch National Anthem, known as “Wilhelmus” on your doorstep or balcony on King’s Day?

Watch TV broadcasts about previous King’s Days and Queen's Days

Whether or not you regularly tune into Dutch television, King's Day 2021 could be the perfect occasion for it. On the days leading up to King’s Day, NOS will broadcast retrospective footage of King’s Days of previous years.

And of course, Queen's Days, too. Up until 2013, when the former Queen Beatrix abdicated, the April national holiday was Queen’s Day honouring the queen's birthday. 

And from 4.15pm for at least half an hour, there will be a programme broadcast by ANBO and Omroep Max from Soestdijk Palace and some coverage of the royal visit to Eindhoven.

National Toast to the Dutch King

King's Day is, after all, a celebration of the birthday of King Willem Alexander.  At 4.30pm on King’s Day, there will be a National Toast, where we’ll all raise a glass to King Willem Alexander for his birthday.

While you're at it, why not jump on a video call and have a toast with friends and family! On celebrations like these, many of us feel isolated from our usual group of friends. Have a video call with the friends you would typically have partied with on King's Day, have a few virtual drinks in your orange outfits and keep the King's Day cheerfulness going!

A playful programme for kids

This year, there's a special initiative to make King's Day a memorable and exciting day for children. Playgrounds will be focal points in Dutch cities and towns for families with kids, and there will also be fun activities for keeping children busy in their own safe spaces at home. Many youth-centred organisations such as the Scouts have arranged fun activities for children in the Netherlands.

Sell your old clothes online

Reduce reuse, recycle! You'd normally find flea markets where you can buy or sell old clothes for great prices. Let's not allow the pandemic to stop this great circular economy that fights against textile waste. Sustainability in fashion is essential and it's great to see that so many people have woken up to this. You can still sell your unwanted garments or grab new pieces for your collection with clothing marketplace platforms such as Vinted.

Post for the palace

In the Post for the palace (Post voor het paleis) initiative, elderly citizens of the Netherlands are invited to write to the king about their life experiences and how they are finding life in the Netherlands during the coronavirus crisis. Selected letters will be compiled into a book that will be presented to the king on his birthday. Find out more on the KBVO website (in Dutch).

King's Day 2021

Last year, we already experienced an unusually quiet King's Day, so we know what to expect! Those who have experienced it felt the extreme difference from usual, without the orange-clad crowds, roads closed off, open-air performances or jumble sales. So, prepare for another year of staying safe at home and being part of small but very meaningful acts of togetherness.

Rachel Deloughry


Rachel Deloughry

Rachel is a writer, editor and digital content creator, passionate about the arts, culture and lifestyle.

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