Queen’s Day in Holland

Every year on April 30, a wave of orange falls upon the Kingdom of the Netherlands as the Dutch celebrate their national holiday, Queen’s Day.

Though the dates have fluctuated over the years, the country-wide holiday dates back to the late 19th century. The day was originally established on August 31, 1885 as Princess’s Day to honor the heiress to the throne, Princess Wilhelmina. Fittingly, the holiday took place on the Princess’s birthday. When Wilhelmina’s daughter, Juliana, began her reign as Queen, the event was renamed Koninginnedag, or Queen’s Day, and began to take place on the new monarch’s birthday, April 30. Juliana’s oldest daughter, Beatrix, has since taken the title of Queen, but the holiday is still recognized on Juliana’s birthday.  

Today, Holland’s national day is celebrated throughout the country, but perhaps, the most fervently in its capital, Amsterdam. Festivities include open air concerts, parades, and, curiously, a city-wide flea market. Queen’s Day marks the only day in which Dutch citizens are free to sell wares publically, free from tax and without a permit. Thousands take advantage of the allowance, pedaling second-hand items throughout the city of Amsterdam. In fact, the tradition is so well-practiced that even Queen Beatrix has been known to purchase an item or two throughout the course of the holiday.

Of course, the most popular way to commemorate Queen’s Day is by decking oneself out in orange, Holland’s national color. On the eve of Queen’s Day, Amsterdam’s streets and canals fill up with thousands of passionate, orange-clad participants, who remain in and about the city through the following day. Oranjegekte or “orange craze” is also exhibited in vibrant wigs, lively hats and even orange-tinted drinks as the festivities continue well into the evening. And the party certainly proves that Amsterdam is a city that is proud of its national heritage.

Celebrate a bit of Dutch tradition for yourself this year on one of our popular Bike and Barge vacations in Holland.