King’s Day is when the Dutch celebrate the birthday of their king. King Willem Alexander was born on 27 April and so on this day, there are many parties, flea markets, and other festivities. Together with his family, the king himself visits one or several cities. This year, the city of Groningen will receive the royal family. A lot of Dutch people watch this on television to get a glimpse of the royals. If you choose to visit Groningen to be there in person on this very special day, we recommend you to read this blog about Groningen, hometown of our own Managing Director, Irene Bunt!
But why do we Dutch people go all crazy on this nationaly holiday and does the country turn orange?
From Princess’ Day to King’s Day
Originally, Princess’ Day was first celebrated in Holland on 31 August 1885, the 5th birthday of Princess Wilhelmina. The feast involved many children’s games and decorated streets. When Wilhelmina became the new queen after her father’s death in 1890, it changed to Queen’s Day. The first official Queen’s Day was celebrated in the following year, 1891. But it was not until the year 1902 that Queen’s Day became popular amongst the Dutch people. As this was the year the Dutch people celebrated the recovery of their queen after a severe illness.
Juliana, the succesive queen, continued the celebration of Queen’s Day as from 1949. Her birthday, 30 April, was celebrated with a parade on Soestdijk Palace. Dutch citizen’s would stand in line for miles, to walk along the palace side steps to hand over flowers and gifts. As from the 50’s, this tradition was broadcast on television. Under Queen Juliana, Queen’s Day became an official day and the celebration grew into a national holiday, which is all about solidarity of the nation.
When Beatrix became queen, she continued to celebrate Queen’s Day on 30 April, eventhough her own birthday is in January. But contrary to her mother, she took her entire family and travelled around the country to visit several municipalities. King Willem Alexander has followed in this tradition. He was born on 27 April and so this became the official King’s Day in 2014.
The Dutch royal family bears the name: House of Oranje. This literally means the colour orange. As a result, it became Holland’s national color. On King’s Day people wear orange clothes, often even donning orange wigs or make-up.
King’s Day has reached high levels of popularity and even people from abroad visit the Netherlands to experience the orange madness. Especially, the city of Amsterdam. Last year alone, 700.000 people visited the capital to be part of this celebration. So, getting in or out of the city can be quite challenging. For this reason, the public transportation system will offer adjusted schedules. We advise you to keep this in mind when you wish you travel within the Netherlands on this day. But mostly, we advise you let yourself be overwhelmed by the atmosphere of solidarity that this holiday causes. Enjoy it with us and let’s paint the town orange!