27 April: King’s Day and its Significance

OV Digital Desk

King’s Day, also known as Koningsdag in Dutch, is a national holiday in the Kingdom of the Netherlands celebrated on 27 April (or April 26th if the 27th falls on a Sunday). It is a day of festivities, street parties, and celebrations in honor of the Dutch monarch, currently King Willem-Alexander, who ascended to the throne on 30 April 2013, after the abdication of his mother, Queen Beatrix.

History of King’s Day

King’s Day has its roots in the celebration of the Dutch monarchy. The first King’s Day, then known as Queen’s Day, was celebrated on 31 August 1885, in honor of the birth of Queen Wilhelmina. Over the years, it became a tradition to celebrate Queen’s Day on the birthday of the reigning monarch. In 1949, the date of Queen’s Day was changed to April 30, in honor of the birthday of Queen Juliana. When Willem-Alexander ascended to the throne in 2013, the date of the celebration was changed to 27 April, as his birthday falls on that day.

Events at King’s Day

King’s Day is celebrated with great enthusiasm and festivities throughout the Netherlands. The day is marked by various events, including:

  1. Orange Craze: Orange is the color associated with the Dutch royal family, and it is the dominant color of King’s Day celebrations. People dress in orange clothing, accessories, and face paint, and the streets and buildings are decorated with orange flags and banners.
  2. Flea Markets (Vrijmarkt): One of the main highlights of King’s Day is the nationwide flea markets where people can sell second-hand items, crafts, and other goods on the streets. It is a time when many people, including children, participate in buying and selling items, and the streets are filled with a festive atmosphere.
  3. Music, Concerts, and Performances: King’s Day is also marked by live music performances, concerts, and cultural performances in many cities and towns across the Netherlands. There are stages set up in public squares, parks, and other locations where musicians and performers entertain the crowds.
  4. Boat Parades: In cities like Amsterdam and Utrecht, boat parades, known as “Oranjevaart” or “Oranje Parade,” are organized, where boats decorated in orange sail through the canals with music, dancing, and revelry on board. It is a popular attraction during King’s Day celebrations.

Significance of King’s Day

King’s Day holds significant cultural and historical importance in the Netherlands. It is a day when the Dutch people come together to celebrate their monarchy, show their support for the royal family, and express their national pride. It is also a day when people of all ages can participate in various activities, such as flea markets, music performances, and other festivities, creating a sense of community and togetherness. King’s Day is a symbol of Dutch national identity and a cherished tradition that brings joy and celebration to the people of the Netherlands.