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How to Survive King's Day 2017 in Amsterdam

It’s that time of year again, King’s Day is back on April 27th as one of the biggest orange spectacles in the Netherlands. Officially the national holiday in honor of the King Willem-Alexander’s birthday, the nation celebrates this special occasion with city-wide parties, food, drinks, music, free markets, and adorning everything orange! So you can bet Amsterdam will be the center of it all. If you don’t want to miss out on this special day, here’s a quick guide on how to survive King's Day in Amsterdam 2017. Don't worry, if you download our free guide, we will give you all the details (maps, hotspots, walking routes etc) on how to plan your royal day.

Before we get started on the celebratory part, we need to understand a brief history of this glorious day. King’s Day was first celebrated in 2014, when Queen Beatrix announced her abdication of the throne to her eldest son, Willem-Alexander. However, Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) has been celebrated by the Dutch for generations. Since 1885, Queen's Day was first celebrated on August 31st in honor of the birth of Queen Wilhelmina. The date changed to April 30th when Queen Juliana succeeded to the throne in 1949 (in accordance to her birthday). When Queen Beatrix took to the throne, she kept the day in honor of her mother. After King Willem-Alexander succeeded his mother, King’s Day was changed to observe his birthday on April 27th.

King’s Night

King's Day is a public holiday in the Netherlands, therefore, we kick off the night before with King's Night (Koningsnacht) on April 26th. During this evening there are plenty of venues to choose from in the streets, canals and public squares. The neighborhoods of De Jordaan, Amstelveld, or Utrechtsestraat are where people gather with beers in their hands, drinking and enjoying the tunes that fill the streets. Here are a few spots where locals and travelers can mingle and enjoy the festivities.

To get a glimpse of the Amsterdam experience, De Herengracht has an open patio right next to the Herengracht canal. It also offers a hidden courtyard open for King's Night partygoers. Next, Cafe Thijssen in De Jordaan is a great place to catch live music outside the cafe, or drinks inside (especially when the weather is not so great!). The Koningsnacht concert presented by Café Winkel 43 and Restaurant Noordwest fires up the stage for cover bands to play international hits and traditional tunes all night long. Be sure to catch the special annual unveiling of the grand billboard, which is a humorous nod to the royal family, around midnight at De Blaffende Vis.

King’s Day Walking Route

We recommend starting this day in Amsterdam Noord swinging off the rooftop of the A’DAM LOOKOUT. The panoramic view from this lookout will surely get you ready for King’s Day. If you can’t decide what to do, the NDSM Vrijhaven King’s Day offers a variety of fun activities. At the free music event for all ages, you can have a little taste of everything (food, flea market shopping, creative arts and crafts). Hop across the river IJ to the heart of Amsterdam. This is where the real party starts. From here, continue walking through one of the canals (either Herengracht, Keizergracht, or Prinsengracht) and observe how the Dutch party on the water. The canals will be packed to its maximum capacity with party people overflowing from their boats. On land, the streets become alive with homemade food stalls, amateur cocktail bartenders, live music on every street corner, and spontaneous house parties. During this day, the city turns into an open free market, where people can sell their goods and second-hand stuff freely on the streets. Amstelveld, Vondelpark, De Jordaan, Utrechtsestraat are just some of the best hotspots to fully embrace the madness and celebrations of the Monarch’s birthday.

Tips on how to survive:

  • Expect public transportation to be slow and crowded on this day.
  • Vondelpark is reserved for children. Bring your kids there for some family fun..
  • Bring small change for street food, bargaining at the free markets and the bathrooms..
  • There will be public bathrooms but expect the long lineups. Some houses open up their private bathrooms for a couple of euros.
  • Be careful around the canals! You don't want to take a dip into the party waters by accident.
  • Wear orange!

We've made a short video to give you a taste of what to expect on King's Day in Amsterdam. We hope this gets you excited and prepared for a proper celebration of King's Day.

Download our FREE Amsterdam City Guide for more hotspots, a guided walking route for your King’s Day and King's Night, and more details on how to survive King's Day 2017 in Amsterdam.

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