Yes, I was in Amsterdam for Queen’s Day.
I was right at the heart of the thriving street party, and for the first couple of hours, feeling totally bummed, isolated and drowned in orange.
Having (unintentionally) left my phone charger in Brussels, I had no way of reaching my friends when my battery went flat. And after spending most of my morning walking to and from the train station hoping I’d be lucky enough to meet someone I knew, I finally decided to take the plunge, and sweep the streets alone.
Thankfully though, the sun gave us a peep show for the über-special occasion. Painted in a gorgeous celestial blue, the sky was spotless. And replenished with serotonin, I ventured through the bustling streets of Amsterdam until I had no energy left.
Being alone, I was obliged to throw myself in the crowd and be part of the passion between the community. The whole day brings with it an incredible sense of belonging.
Everyone is Dutch on Queen’s Day.
Queen’s Day or Koninginnedag is basically the Dutch Queen’s birthday party. The current queen’s actual birthday falls on January, however she decided to keep celebrating it officially on her mother’s birthday in April, because it’s supposedly warmer.
Everyone from the young, the old, their pets and your average Spanish, Italian, Asian, was parading the streets, participating actively in parties, flea markets and live performances.
Despite being overcrowded, the atmosphere was very relaxed and joyful. With a sense of admiration, I observed old men wearing orange-afro-wigs, dancing salsa with their women (also clad in orange from head to toe).
I also witnessed a woman in a wheelchair wearing an orange boa around her neck and an orange cowboy-hat, families pushing orange prams, boat parties in the canals with topless male DJs wearing orange angel wings providing the entertainment.
Everywhere in the city was orange: balloons, steamers, banners, foods and drinks. Wearing orange clothing and creative accessories (even a simple wrist watch or a shoelace) was indeed compulsory.
My map-less route led me into the Jordaan (Jewish quarter), where people sold their second hand items and others performed. There was a talented blind woman who played the flute, accompanied by a precious young girl on the violin. I walked past a band of brothers who sang Drops of Jupiter to the beat of a drum-set and an acoustic guitar outside their garage door, while their mother offered cups of tea and homemade cakes to those who stopped to listen.
I also stumbled upon a coffee shop by the canal in the corner of Noordermarkt, known for its famous apple pie. It was incredibly busy, but tasting the Mother of Dutch apple pies was definitely the culinary highlight of the trip.
The next morning, it was headlined that Queen’s Day attracted c. 700, 000 people to the city of Amsterdam alone.
Oh, and why all the Orange? Well, the colour refers to the name of the Royal Family: The House of Orange.