If you happen to find yourself in Holland on the April 27, the streets will be flooded with a sea of orange. Dutch revellers will be out and about celebrating King's Day, an event unique to Holland and one of the largest national celebrations of the year. Outside of Holland, the origins of the event and the celebration itself are little-known, but Auto Europe is here to shed some light on the origins of this annual celebration and detail how the Dutch celebrate King's Day.
Charming Traditions in The Netherlands
The origins of King's Day hail back the end of the 19th Century when began as a celebration of the birth of Princess Wilhelmina. Throughout her life, her birthday continued to form part of Dutch celebrations, so when Wilhemina ascended to the throne, it became Koninginnedag, or "Queen's Day," and the celebration has remained a mainstay in the Dutch calendar ever since. It traditionally marked the end of the school holidays because Queen Wilhemina's birthday was the August 31; however, the date has changed twice, and the national event is now celebrated on of April 27, the date of King Willem-Alexander's official birthday. The royal family celebrates by visiting different Dutch towns each year to join in on the local festivities. In 2015, the Dutch monarchy will be gracing the town of Dordrecht with their presence.
For the rest of Holland, King's Day celebrations are spent on the streets, revelling at parties or finding a bargain at the vrijmarkt ("free market"), where everyone can sell off their second hand wares--a tradition that produces huge flea markets on the street. Everyone shows their patriotic pride by wearing Holland's national color, orange, and impromptu sing-alongs of "Het Wilhelmus," the Dutch national anthem (originally a poem about William the Orange's bravery in the fight for Dutch people) are commonplace too. Bands, music groups, and live DJs perform and parade in the streets, adding to the relaxed and jovial spirit of the celebration. To really immerse yourself in King's Day celebrations, we recommend partaking in a tipple of Oranjebitter, an orange liqueur consisting of juniper, laurel berries, and liquorice root with orange peel and malt gin mixed in. It is often served with sugar and mixed with either 7-Up or orange juice. It's a King's Day classic in Holland.
Taking Part in the King's Day Celebrations
What are the highlights of King's Day 2015? The night before the big day, the celebrations will already be in full swing. King's Night will have plenty of live music performances, live DJs, and food stalls in the streets until sunrise. Pick up your Netherlands rental car in the morning, and set out to explore and experience the holiday in different cities around Holland. On King's Day itself, in Amsterdam, the canal is full of boats with King Day's revellers celebrating. If there's no room on the boat, the bridges are the second-best option because you will be able to celebrate while watching the canal boats passing under. For bargain hunters, there's no better destination than Utrecht, which hosts the biggest flea market of all--a quintessential King's Day vrijmarkt experience. In Rotterdam, fun for the whole family can be had at the funfair at the Euromast. King's Day celebrations really cater to everyone; they offer interesting things to do and see for revellers of all ages and nationalities.
Flea markets, street parties, and family-friendly fun are what you can expect at King's Day each and every year, and 2015 will be no different. If you're lucky enough to find yourself in Holland during this very special time, enjoy and take part in all the celebrations. This is one European celebration that is truly unique, and the celebration may not be matched anywhere else in the world. Get your travel arrangements in order, and be sure to check out our universal packing list before you depart so you can be well-prepared to take part in the wonderful festivities!