King’s Day Celebrations in Amsterdam: A Royal Extravaganza


King’s Day, or “Koningsdag” in Dutch, is a vibrant and celebrated national holiday in the Netherlands. It holds a special place in the hearts of the Dutch people, and nowhere is this festive spirit more apparent than in the capital city, Amsterdam. This annual extravaganza commemorates the birth of King Willem-Alexander, the reigning monarch, and brings together people from all walks of life to revel in a sea of orange. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the rich history and traditions of King’s Day in Amsterdam, along with practical tips for visitors who want to immerse themselves in the festivities.

The Origins of King’s Day

King’s Day, previously Queen’s Day on April 30th, was renamed in 2013 to coincide with King Willem-Alexander’s April 27th birthday. The Dutch monarchy is deeply rooted in the nation’s culture, symbolizing unity and pride. In preparation for King’s Day, Amsterdam transforms with orange decorations and merchandise, while residents proudly wear orange attire. This color represents the Dutch royal House of Orange-Nassau.

King’s Day Traditions

King’s Day is more than just a holiday; it’s a nationwide extravaganza that showcases the spirit and unity of the Dutch people. The festivities are a colorful tapestry of traditions, each contributing to the vibrant atmosphere of the day.

The Royal Family’s Role

The Dutch royal family plays an active role in King’s Day celebrations. They visit a different city in the Netherlands each year and participate in various activities, which are broadcast on national television. In Amsterdam, the royal family’s visit is a highlight of the day, drawing huge crowds. The day typically begins with their arrival, followed by a procession and visits to various events and locations.

Canal Parades and Boat Parties

The iconic canals of Amsterdam come alive on King’s Day with colorful boat parades. Boats are decorated with banners, flags, and, of course, orange-themed decorations. Locals and tourists alike join in the festivities by renting boats and cruising the canals. The parade routes wind through the historic canals, offering picturesque views of the city.

Musical Performances and Entertainment


Throughout the day, there are musical performances at various venues across the city, featuring a diverse range of artists and genres. From classical concerts in squares to street musicians, there’s music for every taste. Large stages are set up in prominent locations, featuring both local and international musicians, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Food and Drink

Food stalls line the streets, offering Dutch specialties like “bitterballen” (deep-fried meat-based snacks) and “haring” (soused herring). Many people also take the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Dutch “borrel” or drink on King’s Day, further contributing to the jovial atmosphere. Street food vendors serve a variety of dishes, and this is a perfect occasion to try Dutch treats such as poffertjes (mini pancakes) and stroopwafels (waffle-like cookies).

Costume and Dress Code

It’s not uncommon to see people dressed in elaborate costumes or outfits featuring creative and fun interpretations of the Dutch flag or the king’s image. Dressing up is a significant part of the celebration, and many people go all out to showcase their unique and often humorous outfits. It’s a day when creativity knows no bounds, and the more orange, the better.

Where Does King’s Day Take Place?

King’s Day in Amsterdam is a city-wide celebration, with distinct locations offering unique experiences. Dam Square is the heart of the festivities, where the royal family’s appearance draws crowds, accompanied by food stalls and live music. The Jordaan District exudes a cozy Dutch atmosphere with street parties and music. Vondelpark caters to families with kid-friendly activities and picnics, while the canals host vibrant boat parades. These locations collectively create a dynamic tapestry of King’s Day celebrations in Amsterdam.


Tips for Visitors

Visiting Amsterdam on King’s Day can be an unforgettable experience, but it’s essential to plan ahead:

  • Plan Your Trip: Make accommodation reservations well in advance and plan your itinerary for the day. Amsterdam is a popular destination on King’s Day, and hotels and accommodations fill up quickly.
  • Navigating the Crowds: Be prepared for large crowds, especially in popular areas like Dam Square and Jordaan. Arrive early to secure a good spot for watching the royal family or canal parades.
  • Must-See Attractions: Prioritize the locations and activities you want to experience. Consider visiting Dam Square for the royal family’s appearance, Jordaan for a more local feel, or Vondelpark for a family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Local Customs and Etiquette: Respect the Dutch customs of haggling at the Vrijmarkt and being considerate of fellow revelers. Engage with the locals, learn about their traditions, and embrace the spirit of the day.

Public Transport During King’s Day

Amsterdam’s public transport system operates on King’s Day, but it may experience some detours or delays due to road closures. Trams, buses, and the metro are still available for getting around the city. Many locals and tourists use public transport to navigate the city during King’s Day, making it a convenient option. It’s advisable to check for updates on routes and schedules before heading out.


King’s Day in Amsterdam is a testament to the Dutch spirit, combining rich traditions, cultural significance, and a sense of unity. Whether you’re visiting the city as a tourist or joining in as a local, this royal extravaganza is a celebration that embodies the heart and soul of the Netherlands. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience King’s Day in Amsterdam and immerse yourself in the sea of orange that blankets the city. It’s not just a holiday; it’s an unforgettable experience that showcases the best of Dutch culture, history, and camaraderie. Join the Dutch people in celebrating their king and their nation on this special day.


  • Lizette Schuurman

    Hi! I am Lizette (35), a born adventurer and addicted to traveling. I have been traveling around the world since I was 16, the freedom is wonderful. Get up and see what the day brings, enjoy the little things and meet like-minded people.I prefer to sit with my feet in the sand and a coconut in my hand. No luxury, just a simple hut by the sea. I also like to dive into the water, armed with my camera, in search of turtles, colorful fish and corals.I have already crossed quite a few things off my 'bucket list', from swimming with whale sharks and climbing a volcano to skydiving above the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Nothing is too crazy, I love going outside my comfort zone and trying new things.I currently live with my boyfriend in Friesland, where we have our home base. Every year we travel for a few months, usually to Asia. Knowing more? On my own travel blog you will find inspiration & tips about tropical destinations, paradisiacal beaches and hidden places!

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