Every blog having anything to do with the Netherlands has already covered Koninginnedag, but I’ll throw my 2 cents in anyway, just in case there is anyone reading this who is unfamiliar with this Dutch holiday.
Koninginnedag (pronounced: Co-ning-INN-ah-dach), or “Queen’s Day”, is the celebration of the Queen’s “official” birthday. I say “official” because it isn’t really her birthday, it’s her mother’s birthday. Queen Beatrix was born in January, but that time of the year does not lend itself to an outdoor festival, so she celebrates her “official” birthday on the day of her mother’s (the former Queen Juliana). Since the Dutch royal family is part of the House of Orange-Nassau, everyone dresses up in the color orange and throws a big giant party. The nice thing about Koninginnedag is that its a party for everyone. From ages of 1-month to 100 years old, everybody goes outside and celebrates being Dutch. If I had to compare it to something in the US, it would be Mardi Gras plus the 4th of July.
The festivities around town consist of the “Vrijmarkt”s, concerts, canal parades, and children’s performances. In the Netherlands, you must have a permit to sell anything. This pretty much means nobody holds Yard Sales, since the cost of the permit would eat up any profits from the sale. However, on Queen’s Day, no permits are needed, so the Dutch go into their basements, pull out all the junk they’ve accumulated, and sell it on the street (or in Vondelpark, which is more geared towards children’s items). They also sell homemade food and drinks, bottles of soda and beer, and anything they think will make them a profit.
Throughout the city, stages are set up in the various “plein”s (squares), and bands or DJs entertain the crowd. Radio 538 set up a huge stage in Museumplein, and featured various bands as well as some well known DJs. Marie Heinekenplein, Leidseplein, and Dam Square also hold large gatherings. Here’s a quick video I took of Leidseplein, as well as some pictures around Museumplein.
We walked around and took in the sights from about 10am until 7pm. Most outdoor events stop by 8pm, and the parties move inside. All in all, it was quite a sight to behold, and I’m already looking forward to next year.