The ultimate King’s Day survival guide

Posted at: 2 May 2019 | Student Affairs

King’s Day is the day all of the Netherlands turns orange in honour of King Willem-Alexander’s birthday celebrations. People all over the country go out into the streets to throw Holland’s biggest annual party. To foreigners, and especially to us exchange students, this might seem confusing at first. But fear no more! I have the perfect survival guide to help you make the most out of your first King’s Day.

The reason we celebrate King’s Day

Even though most Dutch traditions and customs take a few history lessons to fully understand, King’s Day has a fairly simple origin. As the name already says, we celebrate the birthday of Koning Willem-Alexander van Oranje-Naussau on 27 April.

The Dutch really like their king, but his birthday is not the only reason for the nationwide party. It is also a big symbol of Dutch patriotism. Considering the good social system and general prosperity of the country, they have every reason to celebrate themselves.

ISN Boat Party on the canals.

What to do on King’s Day

There is definitely not a simple answer to this, as there’s a variety of events taking place that day. To give you some suggestions though, here’s what I did on King’s Day.

Around noon I went on a boat party, organised by ISN Amsterdam. They have different time slots and usually announce the boat party by the start of the semester. However, it is quickly sold out, so be fast to grab your ticket!

In the early afternoon I went out on the streets. Basically, there’s no way you can escape the party on King’s Day , unless you lock yourself in your room. The streets are filled with partying crowds and music is coming out of every single corner. By the way, street vendors sell beer and snacks since all the shops are closed that day!

In the late afternoon I went to the Kingsland Festival, which is an EDM festival that takes place in all major Dutch cities on King’s Day. There’s way more festivals and events that day that suit any taste in music you can think of. Again, get your tickets early!

Kingsland Festival 2019 at Amsterdam RAI.

Orange, Orange, Orange!

One thing you absolutely have to do on King’s Day is to wear something orange-coloured. Why is that? Well, like everything on King’s Day , this is linked to the Dutch royal family. Their full last name is van Oranje-Nassau, which literally means ‘of Orange-Nassau’. So to pay tribute to their King and country, the Dutch wear all types of orange clothing and accessories on King’s Day.

I hope this post helped you understand what King’s Day is all about and I wish you all the best for your time in Amsterdam!

Watch the student ambassadors video