For a nation which often insists on “normal” behaviour and the following of rules, Queen’s Day is truly nothing of the sort. It’s one day of the year where the Dutch break all their self-imposed rules and let loose in a way that puts all other nations to shame. To say that Queen’s Day is the world’s greatest party is nothing short of an understatement. Put concisely as possible: Queen’s Day is epic.
If you haven’t experience the pure joviality and joy of a city flooded in Orange, I dare say you haven’t truly lived. Trying to explain Queen’s Day to someone who hasn’t experienced it is like trying to explain where babies are from to a 4-year-old. Bells sound, bands play, children perform, deals are made, bargains are found, drinks are consumed, and above all, love, laughter and smiles abound.
For a nation often divided, Queen’s Day is the great equalizer. Unlike other countries’ national day’s, April 30th is not about in-your-face patriotism or royal worshipping, it’s about oneness. Everyone can participate, everyone can partake, everyone can carve out their own way to celebrate, and everyone can do so with the simple act of throwing on an orange t-shirt and joining the gezellig crowds.
This year, the party will kick it up a notch as over 1 million visitors will join the 1 million residents to celebrate and mark the end of Queen Beatrix’s 33 year reign and the investiture of the new King Willem-Alexander. For ever more “Queen’s Day” will be a thing of the past and Koningsdag or King’s Day will be celebrated henceforth on the 27th of April (Willem’s birthday).
Is it just me that thinks it is suspiciously convenient that the King’s birthday happens to fall only 3 days away from the beloved April 30th? I don’t want to invoke a national “birther” incident here, but has someone done the research? 😉 The only logical explanation is that having a birthday at the end of April must have been a key requirement for King-dom. What would have happened if poor Willy had been a dreamy Pisces born in the gloom and doom of a cold Dutch February? Would we have been forever resigned to celebrate while shivering in the streets?
Luckily for us, April 26th will do the trick, however the transfer from Queen’s to King’s Day does lay ground for 3 pressing points which simply cannot be ignored:
1) How on earth are the drag queen’s going to celebrate King’s Day!? It must be said that dressing up as King Willem just won’t be as fun! (Unless he decides to get into big hats in a big way!) The spectacle on the streets will never be the same.
2) Koningsdags doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as nicely as Koninginnedag does. Those extra sneaky vowels make all the difference! How else can we foreigners impress you Dutchies with our skillful pronunciations? I suppose its back to Scheveningen as the shibboleth of choice.
3. The new song for the King is, well, a total farce! It’s just so hard to choose the best part of the song. The Disney-ish melody? The random mention of stamppot?? Or perhaps the various rap interludes?
Does it pain me that I will not be in town to celebrate this year’s festivities? Immensely! After celebrating seven successive Queen’s Days in my adoptive country I can tell you that on the 30th of April my blood runs as Orange as the next Dutchie’s does. But the beauty of Queen’s Day is that it as cliché as it sounds, it is a day you never forget. This Tuesday I promise to raise a bubbly orange Fanta to you my oranjegekte friends and toast to all the QD’s of the past and our KD’s of the future!
If Willem was born in the winter Koningsdag would likely still be on the 30th of April. Beatrix die the same. The 30th of April was Juliana’s birthday.
Exactly. Just as Willem’s daughter will most probably do when she becomes queen, because she is born in December..
Indeed Beatrix birthday is in January, mentioned was by Beatrix that she kept Queensday on the 30th to honur her mother, but more likely is that it won’t be that fun in january now would it?
Tens of thousands of people in the Netherlands have objected to an official King’s Song marking the 30 April investiture of Willem-Alexander.
Well the song IS shit.
You can say that again
The stamppot is probably not random ?? There’s this joke about the similarity of Maxima and “boerenkool” […] and isn’t ‘boerenkool” eaten as stamppot ? 🙂
My Dutch professor’s response after we watched it in class was to teach us the phrase “plaatsvervangende schaamte” (vicarious shame)
I too will miss out on the party as we are on spring break. But I’ve bought a little something for my friends to help with the celebration. Pictures will be posted on my little blog. Have a wonderful day where ever you may be celebrating. Lisa~ americangirlinholland.blogspot
A totally true story, love the way you write about us Dutchies…
Thanks for the fun post! you are are right: we never feel as united as during Koninginnedag. I want to point out to you that Queen Beatrix’s birthday is actually on January 31th. Because that was not convenient at all, when she was crowned, it was decided to keep Koninginnedag on April 30th as this was the birthday of her mother, Juliana, who was queen before Beatrix.
Two major corrections to the above.
1. Queen Beatrix was born January 31,1938.
Climatologically that is not a perfect day in The Netherlands for nationwide festivities and manifestations. This, together with a tribute to her mother (d.o.b. April 30, 1909) made her to decide to continue to celebrate “Konginnedag” on April 30.
2. Crown Prince Willem-Alexander (as from April 30 2013, King) Willem-Alexander was born April 27, 1967.
As from 2014 A.D. the Netherlands will celebrate “Koningsdag” on April 27.
With right away the first exception, as that is on a Sunday, so in 2014 Koningsdag will be on April 26st.
Trix’s birthday is actually on January 31, but she elected to stick to April 30 in honor of her mother Juliana, but of course also because, as you say, it would suck to celebrate Queen’s Day in the winter cold. So, had Wim-Lex been born in January, he probably would have elected to keep King’s Day in April.
I love your blog. I’m Dutch myself, but I find it highly amusing to see how you see us.
The fact that Willem-Alexander is 27th of April (not the 26th) is only a useful coincidence. The reason we celebrate queensday on the 30th of April is mostly because of the the fine weather at that time of year and because it was the queens mum (Juliana) birthday, Beatrix was born on January 31st
The only thing you forgot tot mention is the fact that april 30th is not the bithday of Queen Beatrix. So in fact it was not required for Willy tot be born anywhere near april 30th. April 30th was the birthday of the late princess and former queen Juliana. Beatrix decided back in the days tot celebrate “Koninginnedag” on her mothers birthday due to the weather. Her actual bithday is is the 31st of january, when it is very cold, rainy and ongezellig. She did however became queen on the 30th of april. Willem Alexander decided to move “koningsdag” next year because his real birthday is conveniantly close to the original date of “Koninginnedag.
So indeed, explaining “Koninginnedag” to foreighners is quite a challenge. Hopefully the celebration of “koningsdag” on the kings real bithday simplefies things a bit.
Awesome! The reason the original Queensday was april 30th, was that our current (abdicating) queen was born January 31th, but wanted to preserve the tradition of her mother, who was born on April 30th (and the often sunny weather associated with it). As you said, January isn’t the most brilliant time for festivities like that. Besides, we’re too busy ice-skating then;-)
Good to hear you enjoyed yourself so much: and happy to host you again! Regards, T.
Psst.. Willem-alexander’s birthday is on the 27th of April 😉
But we celebrate Kingsday next year indeed on April 26 due to the fact that April 27 on a sunday is.. and it’s not possible to celebrate it on a sunday ofcourse.. (says the ministry)
King’s Day is actually on the 27th of April from now on, but as that falls on a Sunday next year, only next year it will be held on the 26th (and any consecutive years the 27th is a Sunday).
Secondly, Queen Beatrix’ birthday is actually the 30th of January, and that’s why she still held her birthday for us, the people on the 30th of April. So it would not have been a problem if WimLex was born in winter.
And thirdly: the drags can now still take Princess Beatrix as inspiration, or our new Queen Máxima.
Corrected the date. Thanks to my many observant editors! Thanks folks 🙂
There still is a 26 somewhat lower in the text (in the paragraph before the numbered points).
(and obviously I am a fan as well!)
‘Luckily for us, April 26th will do the trick …’ No you didn’t!
Nice piece again!
And again a beautiful story what is so true. I’ve heard they even celebrate it in a lot of big city’s around the world on the 30th.
Another funny fact is the reason they changed the date after so many years. Actually, Queen Beatrix didn’t had her birthday on the 30th, but somewhere in February. Because of the fact it’s always cold in that period, they left the date on the birthday of the last queen, her mother. Prince Willem Alexander is in the lucky position that his birthday is 3 days before queens day, so the weather is mostly quiet good on that day. So after 34 years, queensday/Kingsday is finally gonna be on the correct date again (-:
Love your blog! You do have us Dutch figured out. LOL.
If Willem-Alexander had been a Pisces, I think he would’ve kept the 30th of April as the date. Just as Queen Beatrix did, who is born on the 31st January. 🙂
As for the drag queens: they can always adopt the looks of our beloved queen-to-be Maximá! 🙂
Hi, the actual Queen’s Day is not the birthday day of Beatrix. It is her mother’s b’day. She kept celebrating it on this day because it was already a tradiction and a more chance to get good weather. So there is no conincidence on Willem Alexander b’day being in April. If it was not he would probably keep the actual Queen’s Day as it is.
I do like your articles. Keep writing!
Thanks for this post, you’ve got it figured out ;). I also like how the first 13 comments are all on the same topic.
I must point out that the party is not just in Amsterdam (as you could think from “1 million people joining 1 million residents”), but it’s all over the Netherlands. Although Amsterdam certainly sees the biggest celebration in terms of people around (and subsequently the number of parties and other possibilities to get drunk), practically every city or town has its celebrations. Every place has its vrij markt (‘free market’, a flea market that’s free in the sense that you don’t need a permit or have to pay taxes) and sees other festivities: the local concert or drum band plays its songs, parties are organized and generally there’s a lot of festivity (but not as massive as Amsterdam).
As a kid I loved the local celebrations (especially making money off old crap – every kid becomes an entrepreneur), but when I got a bit older (say, 16) I always went to Amsterdam. I still love queens day in Amsterdam (and luckily I live there now), but they did change the scale of it a bit in the last 2 or 3 years. Before it was more massive, with dance parties (electronic music) all over, but a lot of this got banned. The main reason to do this is that it simply got too massive: too many people wreaking havoc in the beautiful city, although I suspect that our mayor is also a bit of the complaining type, so personally he didn’t really care for it ;).
Btw, this doesn’t mean that queens day is now a boring version of what once was. Orange wearing people still roam the streets, drinking, laughing and making bargains. The canals are still filled with small boats packed with orange people. If you visit, roll with it (don’t forget to put on something orange!) and you won’t be disappointed. Especially this year will of course be special, but subsequent kings days will probably be just as awesome to attend.
First of all. love your posts about your “adoptive country” !! Truly insight for foreigners AND dutchies about our little country soon to be colored Orange to celebrate OUR national holiday.
Dutchies all over the world though do their little bit (or little bigger bit) to bring the color Orange beyond their borders. As a dutchie in the USA, I’ll be going to a Queensday party here, but there are plenty of parties all over the world. I’ve counted over 50 so far and but am pretty sure there are “one or two” more …. Just take a look and maybe there is a Queensday party near you !!!
Have fun everybody !!!
As a Dutchie in Germany I will miss this years Koninginnedag in the Netherlands. I am going to have to watch NOS livestream. Oh the pain of missing the live experience back home!! But my kids and I will dress in orange that day!!
Spoiler alert ! The NS might not be able (again) to get you from Amsterdam afterwards
square wheels ??? LOL !! Owww sorry, it ain’t fall … what’s the reason this time ? They know yet ? Won’t surprise me if an unexplainable reason will be brought up …. again !!
As I was born and grew up in the Netherlands, it means that the Dutch community is offered food and drink by the local consulate. However, I think that most of us see the Queen/King as a mere label. I can´t imagine a Dutch president. Somebody like Balkende or Lubbers. No thank you!
Don’t forget the tompoezen! I love the orange icing so much more than the pink icing 🙂
And before Queen Juliana there was Queen Wilhelmina and fell Koninginnedag on august 31
i wish we had an republican day 🙁
The aim of Queen’s Day seems to be to get as drunk as possible before 11am.
i was half expecting you put this video here, but since you didn’t, let me do it for you. Its a quick guide to what koninginnendag is to foreigners, and its hilarious! 🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K1vpU8vzRs
(ps, a blog post on dutch trains and their maginificent punctuality (ahum) might be an idea?)
Sorry, but the author is from Canada. Out there, trains are considered on time, if they arrive/depart on the right day. So, she probably will find the dutch trains very punctual.
1 million visitors join the 1 million residents? I think you are talking about Amsterdam alone. Queen’s day is celebrated throughout the country 😉
We also celebrate our trading spirit by organizing all kinds of vrijmarkten.
A late reply, because I only just found your blog.
The following sentence from your blog: “over 1 million visitors will join the 1 million residents to celebrate” Gives me the impression that you are one of the many foreigners who have the mistaken idea that kingsday is a Amsterdam party. It is not, it is a national party. There are 16 million people celbrating kings day all over the country in every town, city or village.
It is one of my big annoyances when I hear my expat friends talk about kingssday and saying they want to go to Amsterdam to celebrate. For me, Amsterdam is the last place you want to go to celbrate. I highly recomend visiting some off the smaller dutch villages next time, if you ever really want to learn about kings day.
I agree to this, Amsterdam is nice but became quite commercial, I heard Utrecht has a nice atmosphere and I’m sure Eindhoven is very popular on this day especially for those people that like to dance, hence, it’s so popular the central station can’t handle the masses, so here’s a little tip: when you come from the north or the west, leave the intercity in Tilburg or Den Bosch en take the train that stops at Eindhoven Beukenlaan, When you get out there, you’ll be at the first parties already and you can slowly wander into the city, just follow the music…
The only GOOD ‘koningslied’ that was made so far:
That former Queens-day was celebrated on 30th april had nothing to do with the birthday of Queen Beatrix….her birthday is on 31st january……but her mother Juliana celebrated her birthday with the nation on 30th april….Beatrix honored her by keeping the date of celebration on the same day!