When it comes to celebrating the Kingsday holiday, one of the top places to visit across the Netherlands is Amsterdam. The Amsterdam city has been at the heart of the holiday for many years and continues to be one of the most popular tourist spots for 2015.
What is Kingsday?
Kingsday started out as Princess’s Day back in 1885 when a prominent newspaper editor suggested a celebration of the birth of crown princess Wilhelmina. At the time, the king was unpopular but the little five year old princess was loved by the people so 31st August, her birthday, became a national holiday. The date remained the same but the name changed to Queen’s Day when she ascended to the throne.
When her daughter Juliana followed her to the throne, the date changed to her birthday, 30th April and when her daughter Beatrix took the throne, she decided to leave the date the same in memory of her mother.
The date and name made its final change in 2013 when King Willem-Alexander came to the throne and the date moved to 27th April, or the 26th should this fall on a Sunday.
What happens around Amsterdam?
One of the biggest features of Kingsday in Amsterdam is the vrijmarkt or free market. This is the one time in the year where ordinary people are free to set up market stalls on the streets and parks of the city and sell second hand goods. The resulting flea market is one of the largest around the world and even has special areas such as Vondelpark, where everything for sale is for the kids.
There are also plenty of activities to keep the children occupied around the city including face-painting, games and sports events with some of the children taking to busking for the day, particularly in Vondelpark.
Water Boat Show in Amsterdam during Kingsday
The HISWA In-Water Boat Show in Amsterdam is returning for the fourth year running to the city with the banks of the River IJ being lined by around 300 yachts and sailing vessels in what is the most comprehensive in-water boat show in the North of Europe. As well as the boats, there are also extensive displays selling nautical equipment including clothing and accessories along with presentations and workshop for complete novices right up to experienced sailors.
As well as the show, there is the usual parade of canal boats lavishly decorated that runs through the canals of Amsterdam. The best place to catch these displays are from the many bridges in that cross the canals.
The night before Kingsday in Amsterdam
If you are planning to visit the Amsterdam city for a couple of days, make sure you are in for the night before Kingsday, known as King’s night. This is where the party starts with a host of live music around the cities including sets by DJs and brightly decorated canal floats to enjoy. Many of the public squares in Amsterdam will be filled with a carnival-like atmosphere and plenty of entertainment.
Practical stuff for kIngsday in Amsterdam
To travel to Amsterdam for Kingsday, the best option is to use the train. Buses and trams run on the outskirts of the city but all forms of transport are restricted in the city centre due to the heavy foot traffic. There is an adapted schedule for trains for the day and there are also regular services from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol if you are flying in for the day.
Don’t forget to pack your orange clothing before you leave home for Kingsday in Amsterdam, as the city will be swamped in a sea of orange, the colour associated with the royal family and the Netherlands!