It’s that time of the year again. One of the holidays Holland is best known for. We celebrate our dying monarchy by congratulating our king and drinking ’till we drop. To warm up to the Dutch partying ways hereby I share with you six things you should know before King’s Day.
Yeah, unfortunately, it’s not a normal year. King’s Day will live on, but coronavirus has changed the way we are celebrating this year. In fact, while King’s Day is effectively cancelled, you can bet that people will still be drinking, wearing orange, but (hopefully) sticking to social distancing. But, keep reading this article for what you need to know about King’s Day!
1. Where to celebrate King’s Day in the Netherlands in 2021?
So you have something orange, you’ve been saving up your beer, and you’re ready to go all out on King’s Day. But wait – where do you go? We know there will be something happening everywhere in the country, but what events should be on your radar? Don’t worry, we’ve done all the hard work for you and put together a list of events in all the big cities in the Netherlands!
UPDATE: Well, we did — we were pretty ready for this, but unfortunately coronavirus has put a spanner in the works. Check out what is happening for King’s Day 2021 here.
2. What is King’s Day?
If you’ve just moved to the Netherlands, it’s good to know that this is a national holiday. This might be a strange concept to expats, but it means you most likely get the day off to sit in the sun, drink and be merry. Thanks for being born King Willem! 👑
As suggested by the oh so subtle name, King’s Day is King’s Willem-Alexander’s birthday. It’s a bit of an adjustment for everyone since for decades it used to be called Queen’s Day when we only used to celebrate King Willem-Alexanders’ coronation.
Before that, we used to celebrate the birthday of our queen mother, Beatrix. But now she has retired, we’ve switched things up and now put the onus on King’s Day. Why? Because in-laws are always ignored and should be happy just to be there. Right, post-mortem Prince Claus? (R.I.P)
Our Willem Alexander is the proper heir to the throne because of, well, genetics. So Maxima’s queen title is just there for the fun of it. She is as much a queen as Rupaul is. (yaas queen, slay 💅 )
Nonetheless, King’s day is upon us. But for decades it has been celebrated as Queen’s day, even though it isn’t Maxima’s birthday. Maxima’s birthday is actually on January 31. After queen Juliana’s rule, ending in 1980, whose birthday was on April 30, Queen Beatrix decided to keep celebrations around that time of year.
Before Juliana’s rule, Queen’s day was held on Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday on August 31, the holiday originating in her younger years when she was still a Princess. The day was given the apt title: Princess’ Day. Looking at a photo of her from back in the day it becomes clear why — who doesn’t want to throw that sexy little minx a party? 💃
King’s Day in the Netherlands: Meet the royals
Yes, since Beatrix started the tradition, the royals go out on the town and celebrate with “the people”. So you too can catch a glimpse of the King and Queen. Every year the royals go to a different region in the country to show how connected they are to the common man. They usually play silly games, enjoying old Dutch traditions involving clogs and swamp monster re-enactments (oh, how I’d wish that were true). They small talk with the locals and do the rounds of kissing babies (in non-pandemic times of course).
3. Where were the royals visiting this year?
So want to catch a glimpse of the royals this year? Well now anyone can, via the power of the internet. The royal family will be hosting a digital event from a studio in Eindhoven for Kings Day 2021.
As well as a heartfelt message from the royal family you can expect behind the scenes actions and live music to be streamed all day. It saves you from arguing whose Spotify account to synch up to!
4. What usually happens on King’s Day?
Sadly, we have another year where King’s Day won’t be the scale of party we’re used to in the Netherlands. Not to make you too sad, but here are the events you can usually expect on Koningsdag.
Flea Market Wars
King’s Day is also known for the flea markets that descend themselves on most cities. The ban on free trade is lifted for this holiday. Days, and sometimes weeks, in advance people mark their territory with crayons and tags. Curbs, sidewalks, bridges, every patch and centimetre becomes a potential reason for dispute and conflict. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people mark their territory like a dog (the streets certainly smell like it 🤧 ).
Want to get rid of some of your old junk? Put it on display and you might sell some of it (obviously depending on how crappy your stuff is). Half of Holland has fond childhood memories (and trauma) of saving up for that special toy by selling their old stuff during Kongingsdag.
This is also the day you can actually make some spare change by selling any unwanted booze, drinks, food, refreshments or just providing plain silly entertainment. It doesn’t really matter how, but you can make money. Drunks are easy targets.
Speaking of alcohol…
King’s Day drug of choice: Beer
The Netherlands loves it’s booze. After decades of smart marketing by Heineken, a product of national pride, we’re all hooked on the foamy sweet nectar of the gods on King’s Day.
And oh, how we love it.
No beer glass is left full, no mind is left clear. If there’s ever a day to enjoy a drink, it’s this one.
It’s not just the day itself, the night before is half the fun. It’s usually as busy as King’s Day minus the kids and families. That means even more opportunities to spill your beer, pee your pants and slur your words. (Don’t we love drunk people). For your safety and sanity, please, for the love of God, wear Orange!
5. Everything will still be Orange
Yes, the colour of Dutch pride is used for any occasion. Whether it’s the World Cup, the Olympics, or national holidays like Koningsdag. Wear orange and you confirm your place as a Dutchie. Whether you were born in the Netherlands, or not, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is united in a sea of orange. Especially when you combine it by shouting some classic phrases at complete strangers like “Leve de Koning“. Even shouting nonsense will create a ripple of shouting, laughter, and high fives.
On King’s Day in 2021, we can finally reclaim the colour orange as the colour of national pride. (Although it may induce flashbacks for the past four years 🍊).
Plenty brands use the Dutch love of the colour orange to their advantage. To show their patriotic (highly corporate) streek: orange shaving razors, headphones, grills, barbies, lube can all be purchased in the name of national pride. Brands tap into our Dutch sense of belonging to then exploit it to the full. And so the cycle continues.
Crowd forecast: chillax
In normal times, you really need to watch out in the big cities. If it’s a sunny day, the streets are packed, especially in Amsterdam. Dutch streets and canals aren’t made for crowds, that’s for sure. And as fun as the music, singing and performances can be, the canned sardine dance gets old after a while (although of course a true classic).
6. Bonus survival tip for King’s Day 2021: Herstelbiertje
Unfortunately, you still have to go to work the next day. Not to worry, just have a herstelbiertje (recovery beer)! The English call it “hair of the dog” and according to the Dutch, it’s the best way to get over your hangover in the morning. Just keep drinking so you can never be hungover, simple! And who in their right mind would argue with that? So just ignore the desperate cries of your liver, and go for that good old Dutch beer! The real breakfast of champions.
Well, that completes the King’s Day 2021 survival kit. Now, have a blast and let’s nostalgically commemorate a time when the monarchy still mattered within our tiny imaged community!
What do you like best about Kingsday? Let us know in the comments.