Have you ever been sat in front of the telly and seen a sea of orange pass by on the screen, jumping up and down, legs akimbo? Don’t worry, you’re not crazy. You’ve probably seen one of the following things: the Dutch during an international football match, the Dutch celebrating King’s Day or the Dutch celebrating Liberation day. We’re quite a jolly people and never shy away from a good party. Still, King’s Day really is quite something else.
As you might have guessed, King’s Day is a national Dutch holiday that celebrates the current King. Until the abdication of Queen Beatrix in 2013, it used to be called Queen’s Day. Now it celebrates the birthday of King Willem Alexander on 27 April. If the 27th falls on a Sunday, the celebrations are moved to the 26th.The Dutch are not particularly known for their patriotism or interest in royalty, which makes this national holiday quite special, as absolutely everyone joins in the festivities.
It is custom for the royal family to visit a different region of The Netherlands each year and to play traditional Dutch games and attend performances in the street. Although these proceedings are broadcast on television, most people leave their homes for the entire day to go out and enjoy the day that’s in it!
There are several traditions that come with King’s Day. First and foremost, wear orange! The royal family’s surname is ‘Van Oranje’ (literally: Of Orange). And everyone will be wearing the national colour on King’s Day, or even paint their face and spray their hair with it.
Furthermore, it’s the only day of the year that people are allowed to sell products without a license. This has resulted in the tradition of thousands of people selling their old belongings on ‘vrijmarkten’ (literally: free markets), a type of flea market.
In most city centres, public transport is cut off during King’s Day. The train is the most popular means of transport and a lot of fun at that. You can expect a slightly tipsy and very cheery crowd on it.
King’s Day draws in hundreds of thousands of people in Amsterdam alone and is by far the largest and most extravagant Dutch party of the year, with lots of activities and music. Would you like to join in the orange craze on 27 April? Be sure to wear something orange and join in the celebrations!