Queen’s Day – The Netherlands’ Biggest Party is Happening in April!

Events, free, Kid Friendly, Things to Do, Travel Tips — By Anna Bandurska on April 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm

Each year on April 30, the Dutch nationwide dress in Orange and hit the streets to celebrate Queen’s Day. The entire country is brought to a standstill by street parties and markets in honor of the Queen’s Birthday, while the color orange (the Royal Family name is Oranje = Orange) is visible on everything and everyone. Queen Beatrix’ birthday is actually on January 31st, but she celebrates it on April 30th, the date of her mother’s (Queen Juliana’s) birthday. Traditionally, Queen’s Day was celebrated on the Queen’s Birthday, but Queen Beatrix decided to keep the celebrations on her mother’s date, as the month of April offers better weather for street parties than January.
The day is also a free market day, which means everyone is allowed to sell things on the street, creating a nationwide street sale. As a result, the Dutch frequently reserve a piece of pavement with the help of tape or chalk weeks in advance, and create various artistic contraptions to draw attention to their make-shift store. Typically, Vondelpark is filled with families and children selling their hand made goods.
The celebrations happen nationwide, but the party in Amsterdam is definitely the biggest, with people pouring in from all over the country and the world. Not only are food and drink vendors on every street corner, the streets are flooded with orange party goers. Drinking in public is rampant, and locals are cashing in on this by selling beers from their windows or opening up their houses (and toilets) to passerby’s.
The city’s main squares, including Dam Square, Museumplein, Rembrandtplein and Leidseplein, all have stages set up with various forms of entertainment. From DJ’s spinning popular dance music to traditional drinking tunes, there is a party spot for everyone. The day usually wraps up with a final show in Museumplein, usually starting around 9pm with some big name DJ taking the stage.
The canals are also jammed with boats on Queen’s Day, and it is possible to walk across the canal by simply jumping from boat to boat (I have witnessed both successful and unsuccessful attempts to do this, so it’s not encouraged). Spending Queen’s Day on a boat is a very unique (albeit slow moving) experience, and highly recommended, but rental boats book up months in advance so book early.
Queen’s Night is the night before Queen’s Day and is traditionally the night everyone goes out to party, hitting local clubs hosting Queen’s Night themed parties. The most famous of these are the Paradiso and Melkweg, with tickets selling out fast – but every club gets in on the theme and floods its interior with orange. As a result, by the time the night of Queen’s Day rolls around, most people are partied out, and the festivities die out after the Museumplein concert.
Being in the Netherlands on Queen’s Day is a real treat, although the actual day will prevent you from visiting the typical tourist sites– all museums are closed and streets are jammed. However, if you’re able to be here on those dates, it really is worth it.
A few things to remember:
– Make all bookings months in advance, including: hotels, boat rentals, after-party tickets. Flights to the Netherlands can also be more expensive at this time
– ORANGE! Make sure you have lots of orange clothing. Orange hairspray is optional. If you don’t have any orange in your wardrobe, picking it up on the big day from street vendors won’t be a problem
– And finally, grab a beer, your camera, and wander the streets aimlessly in a sea of orange. It’ll be a party to remember.


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  • Amber says:

    Queensday is definitely the best day of the year! I would like to see some articles about other dutch places though. Amsterdam is definitely a great city, where’s always something going on, but it’s also extremely touristic. The canals in Utrecht are more beautiful than the canals in Amsterdam and it’s less touristic. Maastricht is an extremely cute, old and laid back city. There’s a lot going in art and cultural event’s too in Rotterdam, which is known as the city without a heart, because of it’s modern city center (it was bombed in the war). These are just a few of the many other things that Holland has to offer. Go see our nature! Even most dutch people haven’t seen our nature reserves at the Veluwe (close to Utrecht!) and in Drente. The caves in Limburg (close to Maastricht; hint!). That’s finally something else then those stupid tulips.
    Go to Zeeland (Middelburg and Veere are very beautiful) and spend some time at our beautiful coast with the white dunes and our longstretched beaches and see people who actually wear traditional clothing (there are some weird people there who haven’t discovered fasion yet) and sometimes even clogs, and all that not because it’s touristic and they’re dressed up to please the tourists, but just because the people live like that. Be prepared to see some fat Germans too if you’re there in summer though.
    The carnaval in the south of the Netherlands (the catholic parts; Brabant and Limburg) is a great event too.

    And the best thing; if you really don’t want to miss out on the healthy Dutch vegetables (nederwiet = dutch weed) that are sold in the coffeeshops, don’t worry! Every village at least has a church and two coffeeshops, they really are everywhere.
    I’m looking forward to an article about the rest of NL soon 😉


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