Kingsday Amsterdam: Fun for all the Family
Every year on the 27th of April, orange-clad citizens of Amsterdam gather to celebrate Kingsday (Koningsday in Dutch). Kingsday in Amsterdam is a day of festivities and outdoor fun with activities for the whole family to get involved in.
The History of Kingsday Amsterdam
The event has gone through a few different incarnations over the years, depending on the current makeup of the Dutch royal family. When it was first celebrated in 1885, it was “Princess’s Day” in honor of the King’s daughter Princess Wilhelmina. The King was not very well liked at the time and wanted to create a new day of celebration that would bring national unity.
Amsterdam residents celebrated Queen’s Day under the long reign of Queen Beatrix from 1949 to 2013. The holiday only became King’s Day in honor of the newly crowned King Willem-Alexander in 2014. The name may have changed, but the joyful spirit of the festival has always been kept the same.
The Kings Day Flea Market
One of the most notable features of the day is the massive Vrijmarket or “Free market”, a street sale which takes place in every town and city in the Netherlands. This is a completely open flea market in which every citizen of the country is encouraged to have their own private sale of second-hand goods.
The selling starts early in the morning, as early as 7 am, and normally continues until about 4 pm. Because so many different people are participating, there is a huge range of different things available to buy (and not just second-hand goods either). A lot of the sellers are kids who are making their first profit selling their old toys.
Prices are generally very low to match the spirit of the day. Goods can be offered for as little as 20 cents. One of the most fun traditions of the flea market is the reversed negotiation where a seller will try to give something away for free, and the buyer keeps raising the price. This most commonly happens when children are sellers.
Good market spots to visit are Vondelpark and also the street outside the Hilton hotel.
Things for Families to Do
Aside from the kid’s market at Vondelpark, there are lots of other things for kids and parents to do together. Activities with music, dance, games, art and food abound all around the city throughout the day.
NDSM Vrijhaven takes place at the old wharf. Through the afternoon, there is a large line up of DJs up and down the wharf. There is live music, art, theatre, karaoke, food, side attractions and a party ferry. This event is open to everyone of all ages.
The Bredeweg Festival in the Oost district of Amsterdam is a kid-friendly street party with a fair, market, live music, theatrical performances, face painting, workshops and story tellers.
Do we have your attention? Take a look at all the things to do in Amsterdam during the year!
The Day and Night Parties
The eve before the big day is called King’s Night and is a time for nocturnal partying and celebration. Clubs across the city hold their own special King’s Night events with DJs and live music. There is music of all kinds from techno to jazz to R&B. Some of the parties are free entry and for some, you will need to buy tickets in advance.
Of course, the day is the main event, and that is when the biggest parties happen. At WesterUnie there’s Cartel Kingsday, a huge house and techno festival. Kingsland Festival features some of the world’s most famous DJs playing hip-hop, house, hardstyle, and electronica. Many boat parties are available including the famous (and a little pricey) King’s Day boat party. This runs for 3 hours at a time throughout the day offering alcohol and finger food.
When the weather is good, Amsterdam’s famous canals become a place of much merriment on King’s Day. The waters becomes literally jam-packed with boats until it is impossible for the vessels to move. Residents and visitors huddle on the boats and bridges, dancing and drinking beer.
Every year, the Dutch government has tightened the regulations on the canals, so make sure to check the rules if you intend to take a boat out. Amplified music is now banned on the canals, as are very large boats, and drinking is restricted.
A Great Day for Everyone
Make sure to book your flights and hotel early to avoid disappointment. Public transport is rerouted for the whole day and will not pass through the city center. Taxis are banned from the center all day too. Ferries between the Northern part of the city and rest will still be running.
Travelling needs to happen by foot. Don’t let go of your luggage and make sure to watch for pickpockets in the crowd. Rates of pickpocketing are down thanks to greater police vigilance, but you still need to be careful.
Kingsday Amsterdam is a wonderful day out for the whole family. Make sure to get along there next year, and don’t forget to wear orange!