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King’s Day: The World’s Biggest Street Party


April 2nd, 2014 | Last updated: April 29th, 2014


If you only visit Amsterdam once in your life, make sure your visit coincides with April 27 (or Saturday April 26 in 2014, as Sunday is a Day of Rest) 1

King’s Day — Formerly Queen’s Day — is the annual Dutch national holiday in honor of King Willem-Alexander, whose investiture took place on April 30th, 2013.

Update, April 26, 11:15 p.m. The King’s Day celebration in Amsterdam was “Peaceful, festive, very relaxed and very nice,” according to Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan.

There were 166 small-scale events — such as stages with bands or DJs — scattered throughout the city.

13 large-scale dance events were held outside the city center, with access limited to those who have purchased tickets in advance — part of an effort to prevent Amsterdam from being flooded with huge large crowds from out of town.

Still, according to preliminary numbers some 800.000 people partied in the city, 270.000 of which arrived by train.

The weather was nice — with lots of sunshine util about 1:30 pm, when scattered clouds started to move in. But even when cloudiness gradually increased, the temperature remained comfortable.

Update, April 29: Police reports that to-date, 100 people have filed a police report stating that they were pick-pocketed. That is down from 273 reports in 2013, and 620 last year.

12 thieves, including the leader of a Romanian pickpocketing gang, have been arrested.

Amsterdam police this year had the assistance of a team of colleagues from Romania.

2015: We will update this entry for King’s Day 2015 when we get closer to that date. Remember, next year it will take place on Monday, April 27

The name change is due to the fact that last year Queen Beatrix abdicated in favor of her son.

The investiture of Willem-Alexander took place in Amsterdam on Queen’s Day, April 30, 2013.

King's Day crowd on Brouwersgracht, Amsterdam

King’s Day crowd on Brouwersgracht, Amsterdam

King’s Day (not Kingsday) will pretty much be like Queen’s Day.

On King’s Day there are celebrations throughout the Netherlands. However, the most popular destination is Amsterdam where up to one million visitors join the 750.000 locals in the world’s largest street party.

In recent years Amsterdam authorities have actually taken some measures, with success, to try and stem the flow of visitors as the city simply became too full.

PICKPOCKETS! King’s Day is a pick-pocket’s dream-come-true.

Last year, on what was then still Queen’s Day, more than 800 people filed a police report claiming they had been pick-pocketed. Many more simply do not bother to file a report.

Don’t think it won’t happen to you. Take all necessary precautions.

Large-scale, DJ and artist-driven events have been moved to the outskirts of the city, where they can be reached via nearby train stations. Plus, you need tickets to get in. All of the events have long ago sold out.

This means there will be fewer ‘herds’ of people thronging and pushing their way through the city on their way to various events, held at squares and other public locations already filled to capacity.

Public Transport

Note that there will be no public transport in the center of Amsterdam during this day.

On this map, which for some reason is not available in English, the yellow lines with numbers represent bus- and tram lines — showing the temporary routes they take today only.

King's Day 2014 Amsterdam map

Click on t he map for a larger version, which will open in a new tab.

The Night Before King’s Day

King’s Day festivities start around midnight and last throughout the night (though official rules state that pubs must close for an hour or so before sunrise).

Bring Small Change. Most vendors won’t be able to change large bills.

Simply walk around in downtown Amsterdam (the Jordaan and Nieuwmarkt areas being among the most popular spots) and you’ll find plenty of partying going on.

That said, our advice is that you pace yourself. You’ll want to be more or less sober for the main feast.

King’s Day Proper

6:00 AM marks the start of the ‘free market’ – a street market where half the population sells their bric-a-brac, used clothes, and crafts for next to nothing. Where? Everywhere people live. What? Well, you’ll find anything from broken toys, last year’s Queen’s Day purchases, and used bras to fantastic bargains on musical instruments, electonics, software and everything else under the sun.

Throughout the city, professional street performers vie for attention. There are pick-up bands, aspiring opera singers, teenage rappers and street discos. Rio-style drum bands have been very popular the past few years.

In the past, huge concerts were organized at various locations in the city, such as Dam square, Rembrandtplein and Museumplein.

But because those free concerts drew too many people to Amsterdam — overwhelming the city, the trains, and the police — nowadays they are a) all located on the outskirts of the city, and b) no longer free.

Orange

The throngs lining the streets and canals wear orange, the national color (after all, the Queen hails from the House of Orange). Take ‘throngs’ literally – particularly in the city’s center where you’ll be shoulder to shoulder with other revelers.

By way of indication: you can normally saunter from Central Station to Dam Square in about 7 minutes. On Queen’s Day the same distance will take you at least an hour.

Queen's Day crowd on its way to an event. Posted at Flicker by Photochiel

Queen’s Day crowd on its way to an event. Posted at Flicker by Photochiel

For most of the day, there is no public transport in the center of town.

If the weather is good (which isn’t always the case) the canals offer little relief as thousands of boats, large and small, filled with party goers clog the city’s waterways.

The beer flows freely, though mostly in the form of reduced-alcohol ‘event beer,’ which is served in plastic containers that come with a deposit fee.

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King’s Day (Queen’s Day) Explained

We found this nice-to-look-at video on YouTube… It was made before the day changed from Queen’s Day to King’s Day:

Notes:

  1. Until 2013 it was April 30th — the birthday of then Queen Beatrix.
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