Grab a boat, a beer, and something orange and you are ready for the national Dutch holiday that is a cross between the debauchery of Mardi Gras and country pride associated with the Fourth of July. Koninginnedag celebrates the Queen’s Birthday in The Netherlands. The current Queen Beatrix’s birthday is actually in January, but she chose to keep the holiday on her mother’s birthday, April 30th, which makes for pleasant outdoor celebrations.
The day starts very early in the morning as it is the one day of the year anyone has rights to vrijmarkt(free market) to make a few extra euros–commonly know in the states as a garage/rummage/yard sale. Early birds may happen upon some worthwhile finds, but the majority of the stuff appears to be junk that sat in a box gathering dust since last year’s Koninginnedag. You can also sell perishable items such as baked goods or bottled water; however, alcohol is off-limits unless you have a license. Other than selling items, the Dutch creatively craft games in an effort to consume the euro coins you have reserved in your pocket to pay for the use of restrooms as you trek all over the city while consuming beer.
If you are a lucky soul who owns a boat, you will have friends appear from the woodworks. The canals are filled with orange clad revelers floating along in boats and barges. So why orange when the county’s colors are red, white, and blue? Orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family. The lineage of the current dynasty — the House of Oranje-Nassau — dates back to Willem van Oranje (William of Orange). If you are a futbol fan (soccer) and plan to watch the World Cup this year, you will see the Dutch in orange and black for their home jersey and red/white/blue for their away jersey.
My friend Keely and her friend Judd came to visit from the states. We spent Koninginnedag roaming all over Amsterdam to soak up the celebration and give our guests the “highlights of Amsterdam” tour. Oud Zuid to Vondelpark to Museumplein. Skirt the edge of Leidseplein to the Jordaan, wander the Canal Belt and Nine Streets towards Dam Square, a quick walk through the Red Light District and arrive at Nieuwmarkt.
With the sun setting later and later, it is now 9p without realizing it…and still a 3.5k walk to get home! Needless to say, we were not early risers on Saturday morning. I had a fantastic Queen’s Day, but I think my heart still belongs to the neutral ground on St. Charles Avenue and Carnival season. CLICK HERE for a few more fotos from Queen’s Day in Amsterdam.