The Arrival of King’s Day

Koninginnedag DomtorenSo, the inaugural King’s Day (Koningsdag) celebrations are beginning, as stages and oceans of beer are being put in place across the country. It’s the first time there’s been a King’s Day; it has always been Queen’s Day since the holiday’s inception. However, after Beatrix stepped down last year and Willem-Alexander ascended the throne, we now have a king for the first time in more than 100 years.

It turns out there’s an Utrecht link to the holiday. It was an Utrecht newspaper editor who first organized Princess Day for Wilhelmina in 1885, as a celebration of her fifth birthday. The celebration eventually evolved into Queen’s Day once she succeeded her father, King Willem III in 1890.

Originally, Queen’s Day was celebrated in August, the month of Wilhelmina’s birth. When her daughter, Juliana, took the throne, it then moved to her birth date, 30 April. When Juliana’s daughter, Beatrix, took the throne, she decided to keep the April celebration date, since the weather is much nicer than her birth month of January. Willem-Alexander’s birthday is 27 April, which is when King’s Day will usually be celebrated. However, since the 27th is a Sunday this year, they decided to move the celebration to the 26th. Next year it will be on the 27th. I kind of wish he’d just kept the 30 April date to avoid confusion. Now it’s starting to feel a bit like trying to figure out when Easter is!

The party actually starts tonight with King’s Night festivities that usually include bands playing outdoors throughout the city, with plenty of covers of Golden Earring songs and Shocking Blue’s “Venus” (both are Dutch bands, if you didn’t know). The vrijmarkt also starts tonight at 18:00 (6 PM), in which the northern part of the city center becomes a massive flea market. Lots of people like to go early to find the best items, before everything gets picked over. It’s particularly useful if you’re looking for a specific item.

Tomorrow, which is the official King’s Day, will see more of the same, with lots of parties across the country. Throughout it all, there will be more orange than you’ve ever seen in your life, as the Dutch royal family is part of the Orange-Nassau family. BoatsMore OrangeKoninginnedagBand
Janskerkhof

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9 thoughts on “The Arrival of King’s Day

  1. I’m half-excited and half-apprehensive about King’s Day, but your post pumped me up a bit so now I’d say I’m leaning towards more excited! I do wish I’d gotten my hands on one of those giant orange wigs!

    • Is this your first King’s Day? I’m not a fan of huge crowds, so I have no real interest in going to the celebration in Amsterdam, but Utrecht’s is a good size and always just seems really friendly and fun, without being overwhelming.

      I think the wig girls were promoting something brand, but they were still fun! That reminds me, I bought some orange “hair” to add to mine. Mustn’t forget to actually wear it tomorrow!

      • Oh fun about the hair!! All I have is nail polish 😛
        I’ve had two queen’s days before, one in Leiden and one in Groningen. Groningen was SURPRISINGLY crowded compared to Leiden I must say! People really got into the spirit and it was essentially impossible to get anywhere in the city. I’m not big on crowds so I did find that tough, though of course a few drinks did wonders to ease that hehe.
        So far The Hague seems to be setting up lots of food stands so for the time being I’m a happy girl!
        Happy King’s Night alvast!

  2. Love the massive orange afros! The kids have the ‘royal breakfast’ followed by the Koningspelen today at school. Me, I can’t wait to pick over the rommelmarkt for records and old cameras in the morning (Hoofddorp starts tomorrow because it’s boring and suburban!).

    • Ooo! Good luck with the camera/record hunt. That’s the kind of stuff I’d love to find. I never end up making it to the market in the evening, so I just have to make do with what’s left the next day. 🙂 I mainly look for old decorative tins.

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  5. Nice pictures of the canals on King´s Day! I was sitting in a boat on King´s Day. I don´t like the huge crowds that much either so the water was a great way to see it all and still enjoy the (relative) quietness. Very nice to hear that you like Utrecht :-), I live in the city centre myself and still enjoy the walk to the Albert Heijn along the gracht every day! Regards, JJ

    • I’m envious! My goal is to spend a King’s Day on a boat someday. It definitely looks like the best way to do it! And yes, no matter how often I see some aspect of Utrecht’s city center, there’s always something to give me a little thrill. Such a beautiful city!

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