- Every year on April 30th (or the 29th if the 30th falls on a Sunday) millions of people in the Netherlands celebrate the country’s national day – Queen’s Day. Over a million people take to the streets of Amsterdam alone. If you’re lucky enough to be there for the biggest festival on the Dutch calendar you’ll witness one of the craziest and busiest events to take place on the planet. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your day...
Know what you’re celebrating
Since you’re going to be celebrating the Netherlands’ national day, you should know exactly what you’re celebrating. Queen’s Day was first celebrated in commemoration of the birth of Princess Wilhelmina on the 31st of August, 1885. After her abdication from Queen in 1949, the celebrations were moved to April 30th, the birthday of her daughter Queen Juliana. Now her daughter Queen Beatrix also celebrates her birthday on April 30th, even though her birthday is in January.
Be prepared to have a sore head
While Queen’s Day is on April 30th, it isn’t on the night of the 30th that the biggest celebrations take place. Instead this happens on ‘Koninginnenacht’ (Queen’s Night), which is April 29th. It’s on this night that the different stages throughout the city host DJs and bands playing to thousands of revellers getting ready to ensure they spend most of Queen’s Day with a hangover.
Wear something orange
If you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, get into the swing of things and make sure to don something orange for the day. The motto is “the more orange, the better” so get something nice and bright. If you don’t own anything, don’t fret. You can buy orange hats, socks, t-shirts, hoodies and more in and around the Dutch capital and other Dutch cities and towns.
Hold on to your glasses
In Amsterdam, you buy your beers from the countless stalls and stands dotted throughout the city. Most of them are found outside bars and restaurants and are served in disposable cups. They are served on a deposit basis which works as follows (it’s quite straight forward really) – you buy your beers from the stand for a certain amount, let’s say €3. If you then return to the same stall with your glass, the following one will only cost €2. Granted, it’s only €1, but you’ll find they begin to add up in no time.
See what’s going on where
A lot of planning goes into Queen’s Day in Amsterdam and there are huge events in over 10 locations throughout the city. Some have house music DJs spinning tunes, others have well known folk singers entertaining the crowds, while others are aimed specifically at children. You can find a full listing by clicking here.
Get ready to buy yourself something
April 30th is the only day of the year that any Dutch citizen is permitted to sell anything on the street without needing to have a permit or pay taxes on your earnings. As a result, as you walk around the streets you’ll notice people selling all sorts of bits and pieces outside their houses, on bridges, at the side of the streets, in parks or wherever else they feel they’ll be able to flog off their goods. Some people try to get rid of any old rubbish such as old CDs, bicycles, DVDs, board games and anything else imaginable. Items cost as little as €1 a lot of the time so make sure to have a few spare Euros with you.
Get yourself on a boat
Just as the streets in the Dutch capital are packed with people for the duration of Queen’s Day, so too are the canals. One of the best canals to be on is Prinsengracht which is neatly located midway between Dam Square and Leidseplein. This canal is packed with boats from 11 in the morning until around 8pm that night, each with a sound system trying to be louder than the next. To join them all you have to do is befriend one of the people on a boat to get an invitation. Simple.