April 30th was Koninginnedag, or Queen’s Day, and if you haven’t heard about this celebration, some claim it to be the biggest street party in the world. Think New Year’s Eve in New York City but spread across the entire city of Amsterdam. Including the canals.
A little history: Queen’s Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands and celebrates the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands. Since 1949, after the ascension of Queen Juliana, Queen’s Day is Queen Juliana’s birthday on April 30th. Although the current queen’s birthday, Queen Beatrix, is on January 31st, she officially celebrates her birthday on April 30th.
Queen’s Day is known for its free market all over the country, where everybody is allowed to sell their stuff in the streets without a permit. So we thought it would be a good idea to start our celebration in Vondelpark and check out all the crap everyone had to sell. It was, after all, a beautiful day!
So we were starting to wonder why all these kids were performing for money and everything for sale was just kids stuff and there was not a beer vendor in sight. Well little did we know that Vondelpark is for the kids on Queen’s Day. Oops. After bumping into a friend who informed us of this we quickly left to find grown up parties and debauchery.
We started with Museumplein since it looked promising for some good times. They had a big stage set up with live music sponsored by a local radio station. However, the performers weren’t very good and most of it was in Dutch so we dipped out.
So perhaps by now you’re wondering, what’s with all the orange? Well 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). But while the color orange has royal roots in the Netherlands, today it symbolizes a broader pride in the country and in being Dutch.
Check out this sea of orange in Leidseplein.
The best parties however, happen on the canals. We weren’t about to take our own boat out and here’s why…
Pure madness. But very entertaining to watch. Here’s a video of some of the nonsense. Click here.
Here’s a video to give you an idea of the boat traffic. Click here.
Many of the boats were just floating dance parties…
Complete with their very own DJ…
… speakers and comfy couches!
Others were a bit more low-key.
There were definitely LOTS of collisions. But everyone seemed to realize that’s just part of the whole experience and were very smiley about the whole thing. Ok, so perhaps beer and other legal intoxicating substances were partly to blame for their lack of frustration!
Proof that we were there…
Unfortunately, during the celebrations a man tried to kill the Queen and Royal Family. Luckily, it was about an hour from Amsterdam. We heard about it late afternoon but thought it was just a rumor. It was not. Seven people died (including the attempted killer) and nine people were injured. The Queen and Royal Family all survived.
Click here for the story.
All in all it was a great time spent with friends and complete strangers!
xoxo from A’dam!