How to celebrate King's Day like a local
When it’s the king’s birthday, everyone is invited to the party! In the streets, canals, parks and everywhere in between, the city is bursting with orange as Amsterdammers enjoy the biggest street party of the year. Learn how to paint the town orange like a local with this guide to making the most of the big day – and the night before – and find out where to get some festive accessories.
Dress in orange and show your pride
On King’s Day, you'll be treated to a sea of orange as everyone - and their pet - is covered head to toe in oranje (orange) as a show of pride for the Dutch Royal family, the House of Orange-Nassau. So raid your wardrobe, your friends’ wardrobes, your local charity shop, and anything else for orange clothes and accessories.
Local’s tip: Fear not if you’re not already suited up in orange from head to toe. Among the vrijmarkt stalls, there are endless opportunities to top off your outfit with hats, wigs, feather boas, necklaces and novelty glasses. There are also plenty of opportunities to have your face painted by enthusiastic kids for a nominal fee!
Rummage for a bargain
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: King’s Day is the chance for Amsterdammers to peddle all their unwanted stuff by setting up shop in the streets and parks, transforming Amsterdam into a giant garage sale known as the vrijmarkt. No permit is required, haggling is encouraged. And it’s not only second-hand wares on offer – plenty of food stalls spring up to fuel your bargain hunting frenzy!
Local’s tip: Various districts and specific streets of the city are known as hot spots for particular second-hand items, so take the chance to explore different parts of Amsterdam for the best range of bargains. The street market kicks off at 06:00 and goes until 20:00.
Involve the whole family
You wouldn’t think such a rowdy party would be family-friendly, but on King’s Day, Amsterdam's parks transform into a giant open-air flea market. In Vondelpark, orange-costumed children get their own vrijmarkt where they can sell their old toys and challenge passersby in goofy games and challenges. There is also a slew of events designed especially for kids, such as face-painting, puppet shows, games and sports. Check out our guide to King’s day for families and kids fun page for more information.
Watch the mayhem on the canals
Amsterdam’s canals are flooded with a sea of orange on King’s Day, as thousands of brightly decorated party boats fill the famous waterways. If you don’t have a boat (or a friend with a boat), the next best thing is watching - and dancing - from one of the many bridges. It’s always fun to watch the parade of boats try to cover each other’s sound systems from the streets. If you’re planning your own sailing voyage, be sure you have the right permit for the boat, stick to these rules and regulations and steer clear of busy areas.
Local’s tip: The corner of the Prinsengracht and Amstelveld is a great spot to watch the parade of King’s Day boats go by, or of course one of Amsterdam’s 1,500 bridges.
Get the party started the night before
King’s Day’s celebrations actually start the day before on King’s Night (26 April). So many clubs will be throwing a party that you’ll need a good excuse to not stumble onto one dancefloor or another. This year (2022), why not head over to Westerpark where various venues at Westergasterrein will be organising a range of events, outdoor bars and live music stages. Or, check out this line-up of more King’s Night events.
Soak up the festival atmosphere
Whilst Kongingsdag is a public holiday, it is certainly not a day of rest. After a burst of festivities and parties on King’s Night, the carnival atmosphere continues throughout the city on King’s Day itself (27 April). DJs play parties on dedicated public squares, live music spills onto streets from café patios and there are various organised large-scale events. Infamous techno fest Loveland will once again be taking over Meerpark in Oost, while RAI will be invaded by big-name DJs during Kingsland Festival. Here’s our round-up of all King’s Day parties.
Local’s tip: Those with any energy left (or sensible enough to fit in a quick power nap) can top it all off at one of the King’s Day after parties. Here you can keep dancing until the early hours or until the colour orange has become abhorrent.
Celebrate in the Amsterdam Area and beyond
On King's Day, cities across the Amsterdam Area are awash in orange, with all-day festivals filling the streets with markets, music, laughter and cheer. If you're looking to avoid the crowds in Amsterdam city centre and celebrate this iconic Dutch day elsewhere in the region (or even further afield), then our inspirational guide should help you find your ideal King's Day spot.
Eat like a King all-day
All that partying sure does work up an appetite, so thankfully, you’ll find delicious treats around every corner, with hundreds of street food vendors lining the roads and squares. For those with a sweet tooth, no King’s Day is complete without sampling the local delicacy tompouce, a sweet pastry loaded with cream that will be all over your cheeks in no time at all. They are decorated with orange icing, especially for King’s Day.
Fun fact: There’s a whopping 600% increase in tompouce sales on King’s Day compared to any other day.
Escape the crowds at a museum or garden
If you’re in danger of orange overload, several locations around the city provide a reprieve from all the festivities. While the majority of Amsterdam's major museums and attractions are closed on King’s Day, several notable hotspots traditionally stay open including the Anne Frank House, Van Gogh Museum, Stedelijk Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Be sure to check opening hours before you go.
Host your own party
Can’t make it to Amsterdam? There’s always a way to show your Dutch pride on King’s Day. Wherever you are in the world, join the (house) party with this do-it-yourself King’s Day party kit complete with bitterballen recipes, decoration ideas, sing-a-longs, silly games and cocktail suggestions so you can transform your day at home into a royally good time.