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Celebrate King’s Day wherever you are

Can’t make it to Amsterdam but itching to show your Dutch pride this King’s Day? Wherever you are in the world, join the (house) party with this do-it-yourself King’s Day kit sure to transform your home into a royally good time. 

The tunes

First King's Day. Hundreds of thousands celebrate the festival in the capital of the Netherlands.
Image from Cris Toala Olivares

Start your day King’s Day off right by belting out the Dutch national anthem. On every other day of the year, you need to be a dyed-in-the-wool, fifth-generation Jordaanese to fully appreciate the joy and intricacies of traditional Dutch music, but on King’s Day, this can be everyone’s soundtrack. From dweilorkest (‘mop orchestra’) to meezinger (‘sing-alonger’), our playlist has it all, with a few international all-time party faves thrown in the mix for good measure.  

The delicacies

People making a toast with borrelplank and bitterballen at Theehuis Cruquius.
Image from Creative bros

As you probably know, the Dutch truly excel at fried bar snacks and the national favourite is bitterballen. Try your hand at frying up these crispy savoury bites at home with this recipe by Or, if you would rather not honour the House of Orange by inadvertently burning down your own house, squares of young gouda dipped in grainy mustard will do. When it comes to the sweet stuff, you will need tompouce – a sort of mille-feuille that is normally covered in pink icing, but switches to bright orange once a year. Find a recipe online and get baking. Lekker!

The decoration

NIEGES Koningsdag Kingsday
Image from KENAWY

If you have a balcony, we recommend you festoon it in every orange scrap your home has on offer and then place yourself, also dressed in orange (read below for further instructions), music playing and drink in hand, on it for the remainder of the day. See it as your duty as an honorary Amsterdammer. And if you can’t find enough orange to blanket your whole balcony, don’t despair; the flag colours of red, white and blue are also fair play. 

The games

Koningsdag or King's Day is a national holiday in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Celebrated on 27 April, the date marks the birth of King Willem-Alexander. 

Celebrations: Partying, wearing orange costumes, flea markets, concerts, and traditional local gatherings.
Image from Edwin van Eis

On King’s Day, all the parks in Amsterdam turn into a mix between a flea market and a carnival, with kids setting up stalls to sell their old toys and challenging passersby to participate in goofy games and challenges. You can give your living room the same county fair feeling by setting up these easy, though likely messy, traditional King’s Day games. 

Koekhappen: Hang a cookie at head-height from the ceiling and try to eat it while blindfolded. 

Spijkerpoepen: Tie a nail to the bottom of a rope, then tie the rope around your pants so the nail hangs behind you like a tail. Place a (probably beer) bottle beneath you and try to get the nail into the bottle using only highly (hilarious) coordinated hip motions.

Spijkerbroek hangen: Throw a pair of jeans over something that can support your body weight, grab onto the legs of the jeans and lift yourself off the ground. See how long you can hold on. 

The drinks

Café Lennep drinks on the terrace
Image from Café Lennep

There will be a national toast to the King at 16:00 so make sure you have your drinks ready – warm beer, of course (you could water it down a bit for the true event experience) but for a real King’s Day, you also need Oranjebitter. Chances are that your house bar does not feature this particular spirit, but the good news is that you can make it yourself with orange and lemon peel, spices and brandy or vodka. The bad news is that this takes several weeks. So we hereby give you permission to have a less patriotic, but potentially nicer Aperol Spritz. Just grab a wine glass and pour in Aperol, Prosecco, club soda and a slice of orange. Proost!   

The styles

Queensday Amsterdam 2013
Image from Cris Toala Olivares

An orange outfit is, of course, in order,  but to make sure you really get into the King’s Day mood, we recommend some extra accessories. Wrap yourself in orange bunting and fashion some masks (no, not the medical ones) with the faces of Willem-Alexander and Maxima on them. Use pictures you find online to print and cut out, or, if you don’t have a printer but you do have kids, this could be a great art project for them. And finish off the ensemble with a King’s Day crown. Take a photo and tag it on Instagram with #iamsterdam so we can see your finished look! Looking foolish in front of a crowd is a very authentic King’s Day activity.