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Kings Day (Koningsdag)

King's Day is celebrated on the 27th April each year (26th April if 27th is a Sunday) and is a national holiday in the Netherlands as the date marks the birth of King Willem-Alexander. The holiday was initially observed on 31st August 1885 as Prinsessedag (Princess's Day), the fifth birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, then heir presumptive to the Dutch throne. On her accession in November 1890 the holiday acquired the name Koninginnedag (Queen's Day), first celebrated on 31st August 1891. In September 1948, Wilhelmina's daughter Juliana ascended to the throne and the holiday was moved to her birthday, 30th April. The holiday was celebrated on this date every year from 1949. Juliana's daughter, Beatrix, kept the celebration on 30th April after she ascended the throne in 1980, though her birthday was on 31st January. This was good news for the Dutch people as it meant the celebrations would have been moved to a cold wintry day in January.


The events take place all over the Netherlands, but there is a special atmosphere in Amsterdam during the celebrations with around one million visitors joining the 850,000 or so locals, in what is essentially the world's biggest street party. In recent years Amsterdam authorities have taken some measures to try to stem the flow of visitors as the city became too crowded. Those taking part in King's Day commonly dye their hair orange or wear orange clothing in honour of the House of Orange-Nassau, which rules over the Netherlands. Orange-coloured drinks are also popular. This colour choice is dubbed by some as "orange madness", or in Dutch, "oranjegekte".

Parties and concerts are held on the evening before King's Day as many nightclubs and venues across the Netherlands host special events for what became known as King's Night, since King Willem-Alexander ascended the throne. Many people celebrate in the streets and squares throughout the night, and after all-night partying some go home for a few hours sleep and some continue on and join the crowds at the vrijmarkt (Free Market).

The vrijmarkt is the worlds biggest flea market which takes place on King's Day from around 9am when many locals sell their second hand or unwanted goods. Koningsdag is the one day of the year that the Dutch government permits sales on the street without a permit and without the payment of value added tax. Some of the most popular areas are located in the Jordaan district and Vondelpark, but you will generally see this across most parts of the city centre. 

Celebration

Koningsdag sees large-scale celebrations, with many concerts and special events in public spaces, particularly in Amsterdam. Places like the red light district, Museumplein, Spui, Leidseplein and Rembrantplein are bursting with people, all partying and having a good time. 

Many of the pre organised open air concerts and festivals usually sell out very fast so if you plan on visiting any of them, you have to be quick to grab your tickets. 
During the day the canals are lined with boats full of people and music can usually be heard wherever you are in the city centre.

The red light district and areas such as Prinsengracht are always good spots to chill and watch the many party boats going up and down the cities orange coloured canals while chilling having a drink or a smoke. You can rent a boat for the day with all the amenities (some of which offer unlimited drinks) and enjoy the festivities like a local.  

As it is a national holiday most of the museums and some businesses are closed, but many open from around 9am to take advantage of the huge crowds that fill the streets of Amsterdam. The free street markets and organised venues mostly finish by 8pm, but the party's continue inside the many pubs and clubs around the city and run deep into the night.

Most coffeeshops in the city stay open as normal, but there are a few with altered operating hours and one or two may close for the day.