This year I celebrated my first Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) in Amsterdam. It’s a great event and definitely worth seeing. The whole city turns orange in honour of the House of Orange-Nassau: peoples’ clothes and hair, flags, decorations, flowers, and even dog collars are orange during this day. There are concerts everywhere, famous bands or amateurs sing on stages or directly on the lovely streets. The biggest concert is held in the Museumplein, near Vondelpark. Young and old people alike dance, run, yell, drink and party on the streets and on the boats. Obviously, the city centre is the most crowded place. But the party starts on the evening of the day before, which is called Queen’s Night (Koninginnenacht) when all clubs organize special festivities. Some people celebrate only Queen’s Night, others only Queen’s Day, and most energetic ones do celebrate both!
Interestingly enough, this is also a good day for anyone to sell whatever they can think of. In front of their houses or on improvised stands in the street (which are viciously fought over the days before and then marked with large BEZET signs), everything from old clothes to cocktails, from cupcakes to paintings and from toys to comic books is available at bargain prices. The vrijmarkt (free market) is permitted on this day — meaning anyone can sell without a permit; it’s a good way to make some extra money or just to have fun selling your old underwear.
A funny thing for me to find out was that 30 April is not the birthday of the actual queen, Beatrix. It’s the birthday of her mother, Juliana, but the Dutch kept this date as a national holiday in the memory of their former queen and to make sure the weather was appropriate for outside celebrations (Queen Beatrix’s birthday being 31 January). Anyway, it was a good idea — this year the weather was very nice 🙂