Amsterdam’s sky was spotless on Queensday, but its streets were dotted in orange. This is what I witnessed while fluttering through the heart of the Dutch capital’s crowded streets on its busiest weekend.
First things first, what is Queensday?
It’s the Queen’s official birthday party, celebrated on April 30. Queen Beatrix’s actual birthday falls in January, however she decided to keep celebrating it officially on her mother’s birthday in April, because it’s supposedly warmer.
Note: Queen’s Day has been since been replaced by King’s day following Queen Beatrix’s abdication. Kingsday is now 27 April.
And, why Orange?
Orange is the colour of the Royal Dutch Family, Huis van Oranje-Nassau, translated ‘House of Orange’.
The colour is synonymous with the Dutch, and on Queensday, everything is drowned in orange. Wearing orange clothing and creative accessories (even a simple wrist watch or a shoelace) is indeed compulsory.
What can I see on Queensday?
Queensday is a massive street party, so it involves lots of beer drinking, street dancing and loud music. Locals open their homes and exhibit raw talent, or sell unwanted goods.
In the Jordaan (Jewish quarter), there was a talented blind woman playing the flute, accompanied by a 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.
Despite being overcrowded, the atmosphere was very relaxed and joyful. Young families pushing orange prams, boat parties in the canals with topless male DJs wearing orange angel wings providing the entertainment. Old men wearing orange-afro-wigs, dancing salsa with their women (also clad in orange from head to toe).
Basically, Everyone is Dutch on Queen’s Day.
No matter who you are, or where you’re from, the Queen’s party is an open invitation. Anyone from the young, old, their pets and your average tourist participated actively in the massive street party across the entire city.
How many people celebrated Queensday?
The celebrations take place in all Dutch cities. There were around 700, 000 people in Amsterdam alone.
- See: Anne Frank Museum
- Eat: Winkle43‘s Dutch Apple Pie recipe. It’s located by the canal in the corner of Noordermarkt, and is typically busy, so squeeze in if there isn’t a vacant table.