Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day)

Netherlands Flag with Oranje Wimpe

Netherlands Flag with Oranje Wimpe

If you are thinking of visiting The Netherlands around April 30th then you must be aware that this date is Queens Day in Holland. This does not mean that we have a big Gay Pararde by the homosexual community here, we use the word Queen in its more traditional sense. Koninginnedag, in English the Queens Day, is a celebration in the Netherlands and its dependencies on April 30. Originally it was a celebration of the queens birthday, it is now mainly known for the vrijmarkt literally free market, the one day in the year that anyone is allowed to sell anything in the streets of Holland. The day is proceeded by koninginnenacht, Queens Night.

Web site of the Dutch Royal Family, here.

The holiday started as a celebration of the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina (1880-1962), on August 31stbut after the war Koninginnedag moved to April 30 which was the birthday of dear Queen Juliana and has remained the official celebration day ever since. During the reign of Queen Juliana, the Queen would welcome people who came to the Soestdijk Palace where the Queen and her family would greet a long line of citizens who would congratulate her and present her with gifts. Today the event has evolved into a visit by the queen of one or two towns where she is shown traditional Dutch dances and demonstrations of old crafts.

koninginnenacht & Koninginnedag are typical occasions for oranjegekte or orange craze, when the colour orange is a ubiquitous sight (see the photos here). The orange refers to the name of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange. Everything is orange including banners, foods, drinks, and extreme amounts of orange clothing, even hair is often dyed orange and last year I recall Nina and Judith giving their two guide dogs orange coats of dye for the day! Impersonating the Royal family, and not always in a flattering manner, is also very common. The œvrijmarkt is free of taxes and regulation so people use it as a chance to sell off old junk and unwanted gifts and clothing. Many children use it as a chance to sell off old toys.

It is a fun event, and is even more fun when you take part as a family in helping to organise one of the many events held on the day. When Tyjardia and I lived in Amsterdam the Jordaan was the area to go. Formerly a very working class area it really does throw itself open as a community to all visitors and until recently it had a wonderful atmosphere. If you have children and are visiting Amsterdam on Koninginnedag then you should go to the Vondel Park where the entire park is given over to childrens activities for the day.

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