Rambunctious Koningsdag celebrating beings the night before and continues on into the next morning. Sprawling dance parties are held in each major city across the nation. Markets with stalls overflowing with goods line up in front of closed store fronts. Flags with the Dutch colors fly over most houses. Everyone is wearing tall hats and neon orange shirts.
What exactly causes the Dutch to celebrate so extensively for one day a year?
King’s Day is the birthday of the current King of The Netherlands. Today is King Willem-Alexander’s 51st birthday and he’s not alone in celebrating. The entirety of The Netherlands joins the royal family in the festivities with every ounce of their being.
Some of the celebrations reference the birth of the country with some events performing a song called “Het Wilhelmus,” a poem that recalls the mission of the Dutch founder. William of Orange is held with such high regard that most Dutch wear loud shades of orange to partake in the festivities. It was because of him that the Dutch won their freedom and so he is celebrated each King’s day along with the birthday observations. The royal family may or may not visit Amsterdam to celebrate with the Dutch but either way, everyone has a great time.
What did Sander and I do?
We spent some time browsing the market in the neighboring town but that’s about it. Stores are closed for the day and garage sale like setups are put on display by anyone who wants to sell anything. We saw everything from clothing to movie memorabilia put up for sale. It’s like this: If you have stuff to sell and if you have a blanket or table to display it… Come on down!
Why didn’t we head out to Amsterdam for the full experience?
The crowds can get wild and we just weren’t in the mood to deal with it. From our house we could hear celebrations taking place over booming speakers but we spent most of the day indoors. It did rain lightly over the course of the day too so we kept dry as well. Many of the central city parties also charged a fee and most were sold out so we didn’t bother. We did get to see many people celebrating in their own way though and I think that it was worth it. It’s exciting to see the country get revved up for a celebration of their patriarch!