Koningsnacht and Koningsdag – more than one day of fun

The fun actually starts the night before King’s Day. Koningsnacht (King’s Night) is the official kick-off for the King’s Day celebrations and in most Dutch cities starts at 18.00 hours, with a Vrijmarkt (Free market). At the Free markets anyone can sell anything, anywhere – well almost anywhere. Amsterdam turns into one big garage sale. It is not as busy as on King’s Day itself, so if you are not into big crowds: make sure you go into town on King’s Night! For many kids it is also a great opportunity to show their entrepreneurial spirit and earn some extra pocket money. For a small fee or donation, kids play their instruments, sing, sell their toys, come up with original games that you can play, perform street theatre or ‘rent out’ their (parents) toilet. It is absolutely fantastic to see what ideas kids – and some adults too – come up with.

King’s Night and King’s Day are also full of parties and events, indoors AND outdoors. It is very difficult to choose to which event to go. We normally just wander around town first, to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the hustle and bustle on the streets. Although it can get incredibly busy, our feet most often bring us to either the Jordaan, over the Canal Belt, towards the Amstel or across the IJ to the NDSM Wharf. Along the way we stop where we like the atmosphere and/or music and have something to drink and an occasional snack. – Make sure that you eat from a food stall that has a large turnover. Although the (hygienic) rules for food stalls are very strict, it is always better to be safe than sorry. – There are music podia all over town with a wide variety of music types. Just keep on walking till you find something you like, or plan ahead. I am not sure there even exists a complete overview of what is going on during King’s Night and King’s Day, but Iamsterdam has quite a large overview of the bigger, more official events and parties.

King’s Day is also one of the biggest events for the LGBT community

During the reign of Queen Beatrix (1980-2013), Queen’s Day became very popular with the international (gay) traveller and the days around the celebrations are full of gay parties and events. And even though Queen’s Day has never been a specific gay event, it now is one of Amsterdam’s main gay events of the year, after Amsterdam Gay Pride. Whether King’s Day has the same attraction to the LGBT community as Queen’s Day, still remains to be seen. Going by the first few editions since 2013, it sure has. Most of the gay events for King’s Day are held in the main gay areas such as the Homo Monument on the Westermarkt, Reguliersdwarsstraat, and along the Amstel (close to Rembrandtplein).

King’s Day celebrations date back to 1889

National celebrations for the Monarch’s birthday date back to 1889 when Princess Wilhelmina turned nine years old. It was then called Princess’ Day, but was changed to Queen’s Day nine years later, when Wilhelmina became Queen of the Netherlands. Subsequently Queens Juliana and Beatrix held on to the national celebrations. In 2013 King Willem-Alexander came to reign, after which the name changed to King’s Day as of 2014.


King’s Day Amsterdam

Address: All over Amsterdam (and even all over the Netherlands)
WebsiteKing’s Day on Iamsterdam

Type: TraditionSeason: Spring