King’s Day, or Koningsdag in Dutch is the biggest national event here in the Netherlands. The first Koningsdag (then called Koninginnendag, ‘Queen’s day’) was held in 1885 in honour of the birth of Queen Wilhemina. Now it is celebrated on 27 April (or 26 April if the 27th falls on a Sunday), the day King Willem-Alexander was born. It is one of the most cherished Dutch traditions.
Being British, I would liken the celebrations to something similar to the Royal wedding, or the Queens jubilee, a special day full of celebration and national pride. The best bit is that the Dutch celebrate this every year and with those many years of experience they have developed a truly unique and fun day.
If this will be your first Koningsdag, then here are a few tips and things to expect to get you through it!
Hopefully you don’t have a fear of the colour orange as it will be everywhere. You will see people dressed in orange, draped in Dutch flags, painted faces and funky wigs, orange bunting and decorations everywhere; the whole country gets overtaken with orange on Koningsdag (and of course during large sporting events).
You will also find that many of your typical Dutch treats like tompoucen, donuts and soesjes will have been given an orange facelift.
Live Music & Events
If you live in a larger city, you will certainly find many celebrations taking place all around. From live music, entertainment, flea markets, there is just a lot going on everywhere and it doesn’t matter what the weather will decide to do; people will be out celebrating come rain or shine.
It is also not just on Monday: the night before, there is a large music event in Groningen city center called ‘Nacht van Oranje‘ (meaning night of orange). More info about what is going on around Groningen can be found here: http://www.oranjegroningen.nl/
The Dutch love a good deal, and Koningsdag is a chance to get one!
Depending on the size of the town or city you live in there will be a number of flea markets around. Groningen has quite a few, but the main one is on the Ubbo Emmiussingel, Praediniussingel, Ganzevoortsingel and Coehoornsingel streets (near the city center) and starts at 9:00 hrs (get there early if you want to pick up the best stuff!). If you are interested in selling? Then turn up with your stuff an hour or more before the start, find a space along the street and get set up, but be prepared for people to haggle over the prices!
Dutch Royal Family
Well it is called Koningsdag for a reason! This year, King Willem-Alexander and The Dutch royal family will be on parade in Dordrecht (a city in the south of the Netherlands, close to Rotterdam). The event will be shown on TV if you want to see it.
Don’t be surprised when you see children (of all ages) out on the street performing for small change. From singing, playing musical instruments, juggling, or what ever talents they may have!
So get out that Dutch agenda (the one where you note down coffee appointments) and mark down Monday 27 April, because you don’t want to miss out on this great Dutch cultural experience.