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King’s Day (Koningsdag)

Special days and Dutch holidays

Published: 
11 November 2013
Modified: 
05 September 2014

Koningsdag, or King’s Day, on 27 April (or celebrated on 26 April if the 27th is a Sunday) is a national holiday in the Netherlands. It started as a celebration of the Dutch monarchy.

King Willem-Alexander and his family at his investiture in 2013

The holiday will be celebrated on this date as of 2014 because it is the birthday of H.M. King Willem-Alexander (born 1967). When King Willem-Alexander succeeded his mother Queen Beatrix on 30 April 2013, he decided to move the holiday from 30 April to 27 April.

The holiday had been celebrated on 30 April because it was the birthday of Queen Juliana (1909-2004), the mother of Queen Beatrix. When Queen Beatrix succeeded Juliana on 30 April 1980, she decided to keep the holiday on 30 April.

On King's Day the monarchs, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima, together with other members of the Royal Family attend festivities in one or two towns. There they are received with celebrations in their honour, often involving traditional Dutch dances and demonstrations of old crafts. The visits are broadcast live on television.

History

The first Princess Day was celebrated on 31 August 1885 on Princess Wilhelmina's birthday. This was the precursor to Queen's Day. The first real Queen's Day was celebrated after the death of King William Willem III in 1890. Queen's Day was primarily a holiday for children then because it was the last day of the school holidays. Later more and more people were given the day off on Queen's Day and it became a national holiday. Queen's Day was celebrated on 31 August until 1949 when it was moved to 30 April.

Orange fever

The colour orange is a common sight on King's Day, as it represents the House of Orange, the name of the current Dutch dynasty. In the spirit of the day, you'll find most people wearing something orange, while others are decked head to foot in orange. There are orange banners and flags, orange coloured foods and drinks. Even the water in some fountains is dyed orange.

The holiday is also a "free market" day where people set up stalls at the roadside to sell household goods they no longer need. In recent years, King's Day has become more and more of an open air street party, particularly in Amsterdam, which attracts anywhere from 500,000 to 2 million visitors.

KoningNach

Since King's Day is a national holiday and thus a day off, many people also go out and party on the evening before King's Day. This evening is called King's Night, or Koningnach in The Hague. The “t” is left out because nacht is pronounced as nach in The Hague.

Outdoor concerts throughout the city centre of The Hague draw tens of thousands of visitors every year.

In 2011 The Hague's KoninginneNach festival was replaced by the Life I Live Festival.

More info

  • King's Day in The Hague
Published: 
11 November 2013
Modified: 
05 September 2014

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