Dutch Quirk #126: Play weird street games on King’s Day

HomeUltimate List of Dutch QuirksDutch Quirk #126: Play weird street games on King's Day

If there’s something Dutchies love, it’s celebrating their (usually) beloved King on King’s Day. And part of the festivities includes a series of weird and wacky street games.

They already have weird sports and questionable habits when it comes to fire safety, so what’s another quirk on the list? 🤷🏻

What is it?

Most people know about King’s Day in the Netherlands, but what they may not know is the sheer number of street games people love to play. 🎯

If you’re planning on celebrating King’s Day in Amsterdam or another Dutch city, you might spot a few of these games, including:

  • Koekhappen: Someone hangs cookies on a string in a line, and everyone participating has to bite off pieces and finish their cookie to win. With their hands tied to their back too, of course.
  • Sjoelen: Think shuffleboard, but shrink it down and put it on a table! Players push plastic or metal pucks into the scoring zone using their hands instead of shuffleboard sticks.
  • Spijkerpoepen: Perhaps the most bizarre one — you tie a piece of string around your waist, and at the end of the string is a nail. Now, you’re supposed to get the nail inside the opening on a beer bottle or another small opening.

Sounds like a lot of fun, right? But there are even more street games to play! You just have to keep an eye out when you’re making your way around the city. 👀

Why do they do it?

Plenty of Dutch kids are trying to make a little extra cash. Many kids like to take part in flea markets and sell their old clothes and toys. 🧸

However, some Dutchies like to set up these games for other people to play for a small fee. And even without kids, it’s hilarious to see (drunk) adults play these games and have the time of their lives. 🤪

While there are no official sources saying where these games came from, it’s likely that Dutch kids from the past made these games and passed them down across the generations. 🧓🏻

Why is it quirky?

These games are uniquely Dutch. These activities go hand-in-hand with King’s Day, even if they aren’t just for the royal celebrations. 👑

READ MORE | What’s happening in the Netherlands on King’s Day 2023?

And almost every Dutchie has played them at some point. Whether as a kid at a friend’s birthday party or at a King’s Day celebration with your friends and family, most natives have tried a game or two.

Should you join in? 

Absolutely! No doubt you’ll find them a little chaotic and maybe a bit embarrassing if you’re a street game newbie (unless you’re on the sauce), but it’s all in good spirit. 🤗

These street games certainly made the childhoods of Dutch children, we’re sure they’d make adulthood a blast too.

Have you ever tried playing one of these games? Tell us in the comments below!

Image: Bernd Schwabe in Hannover/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in April 2022, and was fully updated in April 2023 for your reading pleasure.

Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Katrien Nivera 🇵🇭
Third culture kid Katrien has been working as a writer and editor at DutchReview for over two years, originally moving to the Netherlands as a tween. Equipped with a Bachelor’s in communication and media and a Master’s in political communication, she’s here to stay for her passion for writing, whether it’s current Dutch affairs, the energy market, or universities. Just like the Dutch, Katrien lives by her agenda and enjoys the occasional frietje met mayo — she just wishes she could grow tall, too.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More Dutch quirks