April starts. The first warmer days of the year arrive; birds start to chirp in the morning; trees are getting their green color back, and the Dutch are getting ready for one of the biggest outdoor festivals in the world called Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day. If you have never heard of Queen’s Day here comes a small explanation of what it is exactly.
How Princess’ Day became Queen’s Day and became huge
Before the Dutch had Queen’s Day there was Princess’ Day. This day started on the 31st of August 1885, on the fifth birthday of the then 5 year old princess Wilhelmina. The reason for celebrating this nationwide was to emphasize unity in the Netherlands. When her father died in 1890 Wilhelmina became queen and so Princess’ Day became Queen’s Day. When Wilhelmina’s daughter Juliana became queen, Queen’s Day’s date changed to her birthday which was the 30th of April. When Juliana’s daughter Beatrix became queen she decided to keep the date of Queen’s Day on the 30th of April instead of on her birthday which is the 31st of January. This partly because of better weather conditions in April compared to January and partly because of honoring her mother.
Initially Princess’ Day was a day for kids and so you can still see a lot of kids doing performances and other things on Queen’s Day. To keep the adults busy back in the day, there were pop and jazz band performances during the kids’ events. Tradition also permitted for the free street market, so people can sell stuff on the street; this lead to the now massive flea markets on Queen’s Day. That’s in a nutshell how Queen’s Day was born.
While many people have heard of Queen’s Day and want to visit especially Amsterdam to experience this day it is also difficult to understand how big it actually is, so here are some precautions you can take to make it a real fun day for every one of your traveling group.
Ultimate Queen’s Day Tips
Queen’s Day in Amsterdam can be somewhat separated into 2 parts. One’s more for early birds, the second part for the party animals. In the morning of Queen’s Day the streets of Amsterdam can still be walked on, and there already is enough to see. The morning between 09.00 lasts until 13.00, around that time people who have celebrated Queen’s Night (April 29, later in this list) will wake up and start to flock the streets. This will add a different taste to Queen’s Day which you may like or dislike. If you are with kids make sure you go early. The big crowds in the afternoon can make it quite dangerous to lose contact with small kids. If you are traveling as a couple – ask yourself what you like. I personally have heard couples say that they felt lonely on this overwhelming crowded day. Make sure you at least go out in the morning to see a lot and just taste the atmosphere in the afternoon and see how long you manage the busy city life of Queen’s Day.
- If you have kids, make sure you go to the Vondelpark. This park is by tradition the center of kids’ activities. In the Vondelpark you can participate in all sorts of games for young and old, buy all kinds of stuff and still walk around relatively normal
- If you are a party animal make sure you go out the night before Queen’s Day. This night is known as Queen’s Night and many clubs and bars throw special Queen’s Night parties which go on until the early hours.
- Make sure to book your hotel in Amsterdam in advance! All hotels will for sure be fully booked and prices will be sky high. You can also book a hotel in 1 of the close by cities (often cheaper) and take public transport into the city.
- If you can: avoid coming to Amsterdam through Amsterdam Central Station. This station is most likely overcrowded on the 30th of April. Your best option is to get off at one of the surrounding train stations and take a special rerouted tram to the edges of the center. Special timetables of the rerouted trams can be found at all train stations. The best surrounding train stations are: Sloterdijk, Amstel and Zuid/WTC.
- Don’t rely on public transport in the city center! All trams are rerouted: timetables at tram stops are not useful, most public transport is only running outside the center.
- Don’t rent a bike. You cannot drive anywhere in the center when it is this crowded. Just walk.
- Because you will walk a lot make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
- Make sure you have a map with you. Even if you know the city a little it is handy. Many streets will be so busy you need to find a way around them.
- Leave your valuables in your hotel. Queen’s Day is pickpocket heaven.
- Take a lot of small change with you. Especially if you go to the flea market areas this can come in handy because stuff can be hugely cheap.
- Bring food and drinks with you if you can. Yes you can buy it on the streets everywhere but prices will be high and queues can be huge.
- If you want to drink liquor don’t have more than 1 piece of liquor with you. It is not allowed to have more than 1 on you.
- If you like big parties/shows go to one of the big squares: Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein or Museumplein. Here youth rules the scene, with loud pop music on stage.
- If you like crowds but don’t like commercial music and masses of teenagers try the Jordaan area.
- If you are more of a laid-back person, go to the De Pijp area. De Pijp is less crowded but still has the bustling Queen’s Day vibe.
- Especially for all you girls: Plan your pit stops! Make sure you go to a toilet soon enough since long queues will be your part.
- Last but certainly not least: WEAR ORANGE and have fun!!!
See below a map of Amsterdam with some handy Points of Interests for this day.
Queensday Guide weergeven op een grotere kaart