April 30th, 2013 is the final “Queen’s Day” as Queen Beatrix steps down and her son and heir to the throne; Willem- Alexander becomes the new King, and Princess Maxima the new Queen, of the Netherlands. From this point forward the day once known to Nederlanders, as Konninginnedag (Queen’s Day) will become Koningsdag (King’s Day).
A national holiday in the Netherlands, Queen’s Day (Konninginnedag) honors the birth of Queen Beatrix. Although the queen’s actual birthday is January 31, it’s observed on April 30 (or the 29th if the 30th happens to fall on a Sunday). April 30 was the birthday of Beatrix’s mother (and previous queen) Juliana. Because many activities are outdoors, an April holiday is much more conducive to good weather.
While an official holiday to honor the birth of the queen, it’s generally observed with a massive party that takes place throughout the city. Massive outdoor concerts are held at Dam Square and Museumplein, while most bars, clubs and venues hold smaller Queen’s Day celebrations of their own.
The Marie, or national flea market is another Queen’s Day attraction. Koninginnedag is the one day each year where the Dutch government allows citizens to sell items on the street without a permit or paying taxes. This leads to many citizens using the day to sell their old items.
The Vondelpark is the location for a specialized marie, where children sell their old toys and clothes to passersby.
It’s an opportunity to acquire a distinctly Dutch souvenir with a story attached!
The first observation of the day was in 1885, when a celebration was held on August 31 as Prinsessedag (Princess’ Day), in honor of the fifth birthday of Princess Wilhelmina. Upon her accession to the throne, the holiday was renamed Koninginnedag. When Juliana took the throne in 1948, the celebration was moved to its present date.
Going to Queen’s Day
If you’re in Amsterdam, there’s no shortage of events throughout the city. Wander through the various flea markets looking for bargains (in addition to the children’s market in the Vondelpark, the flea markets in the Jordaan quarte and on Apollolaan in front of the Hilton hotel in southern Amsterdam are two of the more popular locations), see the concerts in ‘Dam Square or at Museumplein, or simply see one of the smaller events.
But bear in mind that the city will be very crowded. Trams will not be running in the city center, and the streets will be closed to traffic to accommodate the crowds. Central Station will be overcrowded as well, and travelers arriving in the city from Shiphol airport or elsewhere on this day are advised to take the train to the Amsterdam Zuid station instead in order to avoid the chaos (as a reference, whereas it takes a normal walker about 10 minutes to get from Centraal Station to Dam Square on a normal day, during the Queen’s Day celebration, this short trip can take upwards of an hour, due to the crowds.
And wear orange!
If you want to blend in on Queen’s Day, wear orange. The color of the Dutch royal family (the queen hails from the House of Orange), the crowds will all be paying homage by decking themselves and everything else in orange. Orange-dyed hair will not be an uncommon sight either. If you don’t have any orange gear of your own, any of one of the countless souvenir stands will be happy to accommodate you.