If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Amsterdam on Queen’s Day this year, you can expect to have a fantastic time – the streets will be bathed in all things orange, there will be plenty of dancing and drinking and the opportunity to pick up a bargain to boot!
Here are just a few things to look out for while exploring the Dutch city during this incredibly popular festival.
Ok, let’s get the boring part out of the way. If you want to find cheap hotels in Amsterdam, make sure you book early! It might sound obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Queen’s Day is one of the most popular events on Amsterdam’s calendar, with tourists and locals alike flocking to get a piece of the action – make sure you’re one of them and that you’re not paying over the odds for your trip.
What is Queen’s Day?
It’s always good to know exactly what you’re celebrating – and you’ll probably have a much better experience if you take the time to brush up on some local culture and customs before you leave.
Queen’s Day – as the name suggests – is held in honour of the queen, with the first of these festivals held back in 1885 on August 31st to mark Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday. Nowadays, the celebrations are held on April 30th, but just to confuse you, this isn’t the current Queen Beatrix’s birthday – it’s actually her mother’s.
Beatrix decided to continue to host the annual festival on April 30th in honour of her mother, Queen Juliana, when she acceded to the throne in 1980.
If you have any orange items of clothing, you should pack them for Queen’s Day and if you don’t, you should go out and buy some!
Orange is the colour of the Dutch royal family, so dressing yourself from head to toe in the shade – and preferably coating any visible skin in orange body paint – is a must if you want to fit in with the locals.
Queen’s night party
All the fun of the festival actually starts the night before Queen’s Day, when the streets of Amsterdam come alive with revellers. Every club and bar in the city will be holding some kind of themed party, so have a good look through the listings ahead of your trip and see what takes your fancy.
There’s everything from pumping clubs to open-air concerts and don’t be surprised to see some well-known DJs taking to the decks.
If you’re not the planning sort, you can always wander around until you see – or hear – something that grabs your attention. Mingling in the streets is a great way to get into the spirit of the event.
Queen’s Day – the canals
One of the biggest events on Queen’s Day itself is a procession of brightly-decorated canal boats drifting along Amsterdam’s network of waterways.
For a great view of the proceedings, position yourself on one of the bridges. There will be lots of music and dancing, so if you still have some energy after the previous night’s revelry, get involved!
There will also be parties happening all day long. If the weather’s good, make sure you head to one of the parks or squares – Wertheimpark, Smederijplein and Fredericksplein were just a few of the top spots in 2011.
Bag a bargain
Aside from all the parties, one of the main features of Queen’s Day is the vrijmarkt or free market. This is basically like a giant garage sale that takes over the streets, squares and parks of Amsterdam.
If you’re travelling with kids – or want to grab a present for someone back home – head to Vondelpark, where children will be selling everything from old clothes to toys, and some of them will even try their hands at busking for the day!