Kings day in Amsterdam

posted in: Destinations, Europe, Netherlands, Travel | 82

It’s always great to coincide your travel plans with the local festivals of the region. Since it gives us a deeper and better perspective of their culture and traditions. Although it’s not always possible to plan our travel to coincide with the festivals. As constrains like time of travel and sometimes lack of information restrict us from doing so. For instance, when we planned our recent trip to Europe it coincided with easter holidays. Primarily because there were two consecutive long weekends available for holiday. And we wanted to make the most of these available holidays.

King's Day in Amsterdam

However, as expected, Rome was crowded pertaining to the easter eve. And so was Florence.  But the experience that we had seeing the easter preparations and celebrations in Italy gave us memories of lifetime. Memories that not everyone is able to make. These are exclusive to those who visit Italy during easter.

Surprise package of Kings day in Amsterdam

The same happened when we arrived in Amsterdam. Yet another festival. This was the last leg of our vacation. After having spent considerable time in Switzerland and then couple of days in Paris, we finally arrived at the Shiphol Station from Paris. We had absolutely no idea that the day of our arrival in Amsterdam coincided with Kings day in Amsterdam. Neither did we know what is Kings day and how it’s celebrated. So, it was a complete surprise package for us.

The first glimpse of Kings day in Amsterdam

As soon as we stepped out of the train, we could feel a difference in the general atmosphere. Basically, a ‘different vibe’. We spotted guys and girls around in orange dresses. And they were also wearing orange garlands made from paper. All of them looked in party mood. But then Amsterdam is known for it’s lively atmosphere. So, we thought it’s just that Amsterdam is like that only. Thus, we headed to our hotel which was at 15 minutes drive from Shiphol Airport.

After checking in and getting fresh, myself , along with my two girlfriends decided to explore the city. Thus, we took the hotel transport to airport. And from there, we took a train to the Amsterdam Central. We were already prepared with our self – planned, self – guided free walking tour around Amsterdam city. Which was to start right from the Amsterdam Central railway station. But as soon as we stepped out of the Amsterdam central railway station, we could see herds of people. Like sea of orange. All around – in orange dress, wearing orange garlands, holding orange flags and of course beer cans. Now it was evident that it was indeed a special day – a day of celebration. So, we decided to talk to some locals and figure the mystery out.

King's Day in Amsterdam
Hues of Orange in the city

Introduction to Kings day

King’s day is celebrated in Netherlands every year on 27th of April. Although, it was earlier called the Queen’s day. And it actually marks the birth of King Willem-Alexander. However, prior to that it was celebrated on 30th April to mark the birthday of Queen Beatrix. It is assumed to be the largest birthday party in the world as the whole of Netherlands joins hands and celebrates the day. The Dutch royal family is from the House of Orange-Nassau. And that is the reason orange is wore on this day to pay respect to them.

What to expect on Kings day in Amsterdam

  • Kings day is a public holiday. Schools, offices etc. are all religiously closed.
  • Many shops are also closed. As a traveler if you are planning to shop around or collect some souvenirs, this is not the right day to do that.
  • Vehicles are not allowed in the main roads and near the squares in Amsterdam as there is a lot of gathering of people all around. The exception to that is of course bicycles which are unstoppable in Amsterdam.
  • Trams are not operational.
  • Almost everyone will be out of their houses, on the streets, celebrating.
  • The color of celebration is orange – the color of the Dutch. So, you will easily see it getting flaunted all over.
  • The main mode of celebration is just being happy, chilling, playing music, dancing to the tunes in public and any other way that you can simply enjoy yourself. In groups, or solo. Doesn’t matter.
  • It is crowded. In fact, very crowded. Be it the banks of the canals, the streets or the squares. Be it the railway station or the restaurants. It is super crowded everywhere in Amsterdam. Everyone is out , celebrating.
kings day in Amsterdam
Policemen ready to parade near the palace

In Conclusion

Overall, we totally loved the charged up atmosphere on Kings day in Amsterdam. It is so charged up, radiant with energy and happiness all over Netherlands on this day. And the best part is, as travelers, you feel most welcome to be a part of the celebration. Like I said, we walked around almost the whole old city, sat on the side of canals and just soaked into the general atmosphere. Talked to locals. Saw the parade near the palace. And had a wonderful time amidst the whole celebration.

A special viewpoint on Kings day in Amsterdam

I couldn’t help but add this section to the whole writeup. This comes straight from the hearts of me and my friends. The three of us who had set out on our explorations around Amsterdam amidst the Kings day celebrations. Being women and hailing from India, we have developed this basic instinct of keeping our distance from the crowd – herds of people, group of men, masses. Particularly when these are people out on the road celebrating like crazy. And even more so when there is a lot of beer running down their veins. Be it holi or new year. Because these are the centre stage where violation of personal spaces and even acts like molestation become the trend. And we become the easy victims.

So, not to mention, we had our overload of doubt when we stepped out of the train onto the Amsterdam Central railway station. For once, we hesitated. We gave our plans double and triple thoughts. And we were actually unsure if we should proceed or return back to our hotel. I don’t know how and why but we decided to go ahead with our plan. And I am so glad we did. Not only did we explore the city amidst the celebration. We even felt a part of it. And, soon we were comfortable enough to roam around for as long as we wanted.

Our overall experience

The crowd didn’t bother us anymore. In fact, it was a different level of euphoria that we felt – to be able to enjoy the atmosphere without having to worry about anything.Not only did we roam around, we felt like a part of the celebration, an integral part of the crowd. I will never forget this feeling in my entire life. And this made the whole kings day experience all the more beautiful and memorable for us.

In conclusion

Soaking into the absolute happiness, the charged up environment, crazy party, dancing on the roads, cracking jokes with friends or just sitting around a corner, listening to distant music and watching others celebrate. If you can relate to any of these, then Kings day in Amsterdam is something you have got to experience.If you are planning a trip to the Netherlands anywhere near to the dates of celebration, we would highly recommend you plan it in a way that you can include Kings day in Amsterdam in your itinerary. I am sure it is going to become a lifelong memory for you like it did for us. PS: if you are headed to Amsterdam, you might want to check: the best places to stay in Amsterdam.

King's Day in Amsterdam | Netherlands | Europe

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82 Responses

  1. I love Amsterdam! I’ve neven been on Kingsday but it must be amazing. Hopefully I will be able to go next year.

  2. I did hear that the King’s Day is a huge celebration in Amsterdam and it seems that you were lucky enough to be there in the middle of the party. It sounds like it’s a really fun day with lots of things going on.

  3. Amsterdam is my favorite city in Europe and this festival is an important event for the city. I really urge everyone to spend several days there. Thanks for the awesome post, Neha!

    • Thank you Agness. Yes, one should definitely spend several days exploring Netherlands

  4. Neha, thanks for the informative post on Kings day. The story behind it looks so intriguing It’s interesting how the color Orange is a part of the culture of the country.

    • Right Ambuj, we were equally surprised to see a sea of orange on this day in Amsterdam

  5. It’s nice to see such an event! I’ll be lucky if I can catch it one day!

  6. You are quite lucky to have been there to witness a cultural celebration in Amsterdam. Did not know about the orange color bit. Must have been like an ad from Miranda to see a lot of people sporting this color ;-). Loved your travel tips on this day. Cheers

  7. I totally get what you are saying about the concern women have to carry with them when traveling or even in their own cities. It is really sad that we have to always have these concerns at the back of our minds, and sometimes at the front of our minds. It is so nice to feel that we can relax and just enjoy and not have to have our guard up. I am glad you felt able to do that in Amsterdam.

    • So true Chandi. Hope the world keeps changing and becoming more of a place where we can enjoy and have fun without having our guards up. Imagine what a wonderful world that would be!!

  8. Absolutely right, if you plan your trip coinciding with a local festival it certainly enhances your experience. Well written with some nice photographs. Will keep the idea in mind when I travel next.

  9. You must have had the lucky charm on to have a double blessing with your trip to Amsterdam. You got to experience the Kind’s day and also accomplish your to do list in Amsterdam. Plus you got more insight on the people’s culture. I also like to visit places when there are some kind of national events happening, one will be exposed to another culture different from one’s culture. Confession time: I always like to read your posts, it’s so detailed yet not boring.

    • Thank you so much Lydia. It was really lucky of us to have landed in Amsterdam on king’s day without having planned it beforehand. And now we know, how beautiful it is to observe the different celebrations that are held in different parts of the world. Will try to coincide our future journeys with local festivals for sure.

  10. Such an interesting article. I’ve been to Amsterdam twice but have never discovered the how interesting it gets on this occasion. It’s so nice to know that the main mode of celebration is just being happy, chilling, playing music, dancing to the tunes in public.

    • Exactly..thats the way we should celebrate..anything..isn’t it? Celebration is all about happiness atop everything else

  11. King’s Day must have been loads of fun in Amsterdam! Great post!

  12. Amsterdam is a very beautiful city. It attracts people from all around the world. I have heard about the King’s day in Amsterdam. Through this post, i can know more about it and the pictures look so lively that i really want to be there right now. Thanks for sharing

  13. It indeed is the largest birthday party in the world. It is a good thing that vehicles are not allowed and trams don’t work on this. Otherwise it would be difficult to manage the crowds.

    • Right! If vehicles are allowed the celebration can simply not happen on the road like it does

  14. I absolutely love combining travel plans with the local festivals .. .especially when it’s unexpected like in this case! So glad you decided to go along for the experience

  15. Wow! Sounds like a fun day, I actually never knew there was a Kings Day before. We do kind of have something similar in the Philippines, we have a lot of fiestas like the feast days of the Saints. Also been dreaming of going to Amsterdam!

    • Wow..on the other side, we didn’t know about similar kind of celebrations existing in Philippines. When I happen to travel there, I will reach out to you for more details 🙂

  16. It looks like you had a wonderful experience visiting Amsterdam on King’s Day. Good advice that many shops and businesses are closed, that is very helpful for those thinking about visiting and doing a lot of the usual activities. I think it would be fun to spend a few days there with King’s Day falling with the visit.

    • You are right Kavey. It will be good to spend a few days here, including King’s day in the itinerary if possible

  17. I’ve never been to Amsterdam before. I love to travel to some new place when they’re celebrating special events. Go to there on Kings day seems to be a great recommend. Hope I’ll have chance to go there and experience that atmosphere.

  18. I Love Paars by: Lee

    I enjoy witnessing local celebrations and events as i would know more about the city and country I am visiting.

  19. Oh! That sounds like so much. Everyone is partying and dancing to their own tunes. I can very well relate to the dilemma you gals might have went through before heading to the celebration. I too would have been scared but gone ahead too like you.

    • Thanks Suruchi! All is well that ends well… 🙂 And that day indeed ended very well for us.

  20. finaciofotografia

    I have been in Amsterdam a few times and to be honest never thought about go there in Kings day, your post made me think twice, a different perspective about Amsterdam that i loved, thanks for share 🙂

  21. Good call, I would have gone with it too. Festivals or any local celebrations is one of the best ways to get to know a place so you guys did great. And it looks like a lot of fun too. It’s interesting that their color theme is orange, I used to hate this color, it was only when I started getting into fashion that I have come to appreciate it.

    • it? You will get to see a lot of orange in Amsterdam if you happen to be there on King’s day

  22. wow. I was told about Kings Day when I was there. So lucky you have experienced it. About traveling coinciding an event, I am actually thinking of doing that in Chang Mai for the lantern fest.

  23. Very interesting read! I should go there to experience it as soon as I go back to Europe. However, masses of people on the streets in the Netherlands – that sounds like a normal day in Delhi, right? 😉 I know how Dutch like to party, so this must have been pretty amazing. I just don’t know whether it is “the biggest birthday bash in the world” – would have to check what North Korea does for Kim Jong-Un…

    • Hmmm…yes, there are masses of people on the streets of Delhi but I can’t see that celebration going on all the time 🙂 That’s the difference

  24. I’ve never heard of Kings Day – but I like the idea of being part of such a big celebration. I usually steer clear of big crowds, but sometimes the atmosphere makes it worthwhile. I might have even been tempted to buy something orange to really fit in!

    • Some one might hand you over an orange garland or flag if you ask for one from amongst the masses

  25. Amsterdam is known for its canals and of course the Tulips. Your post brings a fresh perspective in the form of Kings Day. Yes it is indeed a matter of luck that you land up in a place when there is a festival underway. It makes it all the more exciting.

  26. Good to be a part of a local festival. It would be really different than a normal day.

  27. Uesterday I wrote a small comment but maybe it did not come through. I like reading your blog and I love to see your perspective on Europe. I just want to point out (being Dutch)that the people on horse are not royal soldiers but police force. Please correct. There are no royal soldiers guarding the Dam palace in Amsterdam.

  28. I’m not a fan of crowds, so festivals in my own country tend to send me in the other direction. However, when I find myself in a foreign country where a local celebration is happening, I do usually enjoy it. It certainly does enrich your experience, allowing you to more thoroughly absorb the culture.

  29. Aww, I’m so glad you girls were able to get out and about and enjoy everything freely. I have traveled to India a few times and I know exactly what you mean about having to be a bit careful as women. 🙁 But isn’t it great when you happen upon a celebration without knowing it? That happened to us in Cusco, Peru. We had just finished hiking the Inca Trail and had no idea that it was Easter when we returned…which was a HUGE event there, with parades and bands and everyone out to take everything in.

    • So true Shelley. It is indeed another level of fun to land into a celebration without prior info 🙂

  30. Lovely reading 🙂 The Netherlands is a beautiful place to be and people seem to be always happy! I love how you walked passed The Bulldog 🙂 … everyone knows what that is!!!

  31. It is fabulous to be in city during a festival or holiday. It looks like an amazing experience.. Thanks for sharing this.

  32. Loved the article! Hadn’t read much about Kings Day in Amsterdam! Unique read and the bit about Indian tendancy to avoid crowds is spot on!

  33. Nice Title – The Best Birthday Bash. Loved the post. Glad to know Netherlands is much more mannered. Netherlands is among my must visit list. Planning to go there next year. Your blogs are going to be my manual.

  34. It was funny, because when my sister first travelled to Amsterdam, she arrived there the morning after celebrations and the city was almost deserted and filled with stuff people left behind… not the very best first impression. But they cleaned everything up shortly after and Amsterdam again became the beautiful city that it is. 🙂


    • Actually thats true. And you would expect it of any day after a huge celebration like this. We went on a tour around Amsterdam the next day and we found the city spotlessly clean by 7:00am when we arrived at the central station

  35. I’m glad that you and your friends decided to give the crowds a try this time. As a fellow conservative, solo female traveler, I know that big crowds can be pretty intimidating. It sounds like you had a fun time with the festival!

  36. Impressive post with good content and equally pictorial.

  37. It is so much fun to get to see the local festivals although you cannot plan for it unless you are a full time traveler. Our family was recently in Brussels and they were lucky to attend their festival that happens once in 4 years. And I loved your special viewpoint, so much happening in the country, our mindset has become like that. Hope we see a better future 🙂

    • You are so right. The best you can do as part time travelers and full time job holders is to arrange your travel and holidays around national holidays or weekends so you can stretch your days off without having to apply for many leaves. Now, that is really difficult to coincide with festivals in foreign lands

  38. Seems like a pleasant coincidence. Good timing to come across this post too just when Im making some plans for the city.

  39. This is the first I’ve heard about Kings Day and it sounds fun.. So true that experiencing events like this can give you a glimpse of the culture and tradition of a place.

    • True Marvi. King’s day made me feel the dutch really live upto the expectations of being so jolly and happy and lively

  40. Abigail Sinsona

    King’s Day sounds like a fun experience in Amsterdam. You are right – I tend to coincide with my travel dates for special festivals and other occasions in the city/country I am visiting in. It is a great way to join in on the festival and immerse in the local culture.

  41. Kings Day in Amsterdam sounds absolutely electric! I can see why you would be slightly cautious given the size of the crowds, but it’s fantastic that everything turned out for the best. I hope to see the festivities in person one day!

  42. Never heard about kings day there.. but great information . Thank u for Sharing.

  43. What a good idea! I never think about timing my travels with festivals but it is so smart! Kings Day looks so fun! I’ll try to plan our Amsterdam trip around then!

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