When you’re planning your trip to The Netherlands, you might hear people talk about visiting during Kingsday.
But you might wonder what Kingsday is?
Kingsday is the annual celebration on the 27th of April of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander his birthday. The whole country is full of activities with big (music)events and flea markets. Everyone dresses up orange, the National color of The Netherlands. And the Royal Family visits a different city every year to celebrate this day among the citizens.
So let us tell you all the ins and out about Kingsday. Be prepared to plan your trip to The Netherlands around this day. After reading this article, I’m sure you want to celebrate Kingsday in The Netherlands! 😉
Best Places to Celebrate Kingsday
Kingsday is a public holiday in The Netherlands. So almost everyone has a day off, and we know how to celebrate it! 😉
Flea markets and events
Kingsday is the only time in the year where it is allowed to sell your products on the street without paying taxes for it. It’s called Vrijmarkt (Free market) and a very popular thing to do during Kingsday.
The free market is similar to a large flea market or garage sale. There are designated areas in the cities where it is allowed to sell your products. Everyone finds a spot to showcase their old stuff. And almost everything costs only € 1,- or less.
Walking around these markets is great fun, a unique vibe with only happy people. And you might find something useful between the old products!
Every city and village organizes different festivities. Music events with live (cover)bands, DJs, dance performances, and theater plays. Kingsday is the day where everyone gets a chance to show its creative and cultural side. Not always the best quality, though, but hey, as long as we have fun, it’s allowed during Kingsdag. And if you drink enough beers, you won’t even notice some of the singing and dancing is off-key 😉
It is not all ‘hobby related’ performances, though. At many places, professional musicians and artists perform for large crowds. You’ll find large (music)-events in almost every big city in the country. We lined up a few of the biggest cities which we think are great to visit during Kingsday.
Let’s start with our capital, Amsterdam. For years this city was the center of Kingsday celebrations. Visiting Amsterdam during Kingsday was so popular that the authorities needed to close down the city entrances for safety reasons. When it became too busy, they decided to change the location of some of the largest music-events to another city. However, Amsterdam is still a great city to visit during Kingsday. There aren’t as many large events, but the celebrations are more spread over the city nowadays.
Traditional Kingsday celebrations in Amsterdam
The most popular way to celebrate kingsday in Amsterdam is to hop on a boat and sail along the canal belt of the city. It will be hectic at the canals, almost every local with a boat attends the celebrations. Just ask around, and I’m sure you’ll be able to hop on a passing boat!
Another excellent way to experience kingsday is to walk around the city. The city center turns orange when thousands of people dress up in orange. It is great fun to go to the traditional areas of Jordaan and de Pijp. Hop in a local bar and join the celebrations with an ice-cold beer while singing along with the traditional folk music.
Kingsday events in Amsterdam
For a few years, the national kingsday event, which is hosted by a large Dutch radio station, is moved to a different city. However, there are still many other (dance)events that you can attend during Kingsday in Amsterdam.
Loveland Festival is a unique techno/ EDM dance event in a city park in Amsterdam. The best (inter)national DJs attend this festival every year.
Kingsland Festival is one of the largest music festivals during Kingsday. They organize different events at the same time in different cities. The line up which consists of the best Dutch artists travel around between the festivals to perform. The Amsterdam edition is organized close to Amsterdam RAI, a large event hall in the city.
We feel the best way to celebrate Kingsday in Amsterdam is to attend one of the local celebrations in the city center. The dance festivals are great fun, but you can also attend these during other times of the year. The traditional parties in Jordaan en De Pijp are unique and only organized during this day.
Free Markets Amsterdam
Of course, you’ll find many flea markets in Amsterdam during Kingsday. Almost the entire city turns into a big market. Most of the streets are still easy to walk around; however, the smaller streets and different squares, you’ll find free markets all day long.
The most unique free market is at Vondelpark, the large city park in Amsterdam. Most free markets start very early in the morning. Some people attend the market around 6 a.m. to secure the best place to showcase their old products.
Shopping at one of these free markets is probably the best way to buy the cheapest souvenirs!
Want to know more about Amsterdam? Read our guide about The Best Things to Do in Amsterdam.
It’s the city where the King lives with his family. However, during his birthday, the King always visits a different city with his family. Kingsday celebrations in The Hague are much quieter compared to Amsterdam. During the day there are a few small festivities in the city. You’ll find many free markets, of course, which are popular everywhere in the country.
The Hague celebrates Kingsday differently than the other cities. Instead of Kingsday, they celebrate Kingsnight. The night before Kingsday there’s always a big music festival in the city center, which is free of charge. You don’t need to buy tickets to attend the festival.
For a few years, the festival is changed for safety reasons. The old festival Koningsnach was so popular, the authorities couldn’t handle the large crowds attending the festival in the small historical center of The Hague.
They changed the setup by spreading the different stages more over the city and changing the line up with lesser-known artists. Still, thousands of people attend the new Life I Live Festival every year to celebrate Kingsnight in The Hague.
Free Markets in The Hague
Of course, you’ll find different free markets in The Hague during Kingsday. As we said, it is not as busy as in Amsterdam, but there are different areas in the city where you can attend a traditional Kingsday free-market. The free markets in The Hague have a more local vibe, and because the city center is not too big, it feels like you walk around in a village instead of one of the largest Dutch cities.
The best free markets in The Hague are found at Denneweg, Koningsplein, Frederik Hendriklaan (Scheveningen), Keizerstraat (Scheveningen), and Reinkenstraat. In the city center of The Hague, you also find several free markets close to the shopping area.
The Pier at Scheveningen also organizes different activities during Kingsday every year.
Want to know more about The Hague? Read our guide about The Best Things to do in The Hague.
Kingsday celebrations in Rotterdam are all about free markets and different dance events. The best free market is located in the city center, near Rotterdam Hofplein. Funny thing is that the water from the big fountain at Hofplein every turns orange during Kingsday.
Kingsland Festival is the most popular dance festival that’s organized during Kingsday in Rotterdam. It is the festival that’s organized in five different cities at the same time. The Rotterdam edition is held outside Rotterdam Ahoy, the biggest event hall of the city.
Where Amsterdam might be the most popular city to celebrate Kingsday, Utrecht has definitely the most significant and unique free market of the country.
You can say that Kingsday celebrations are like the smaller version of the parties in Amsterdam. Everywhere you’ll find small boats in the canals, a free market, and traditional festivities in the local bars. It is still bustling in Utrecht, but less crowded than in Amsterdam.
In Utrecht, they also celebrate Kingsnight the night before Kingsday. The traditional free-market opens in Utrecht the night before kingsday, and different dance events are organized throughout the city.
Activities in Utrecht are throughout the whole city. The best locations to attend during Kingsday are Neude, Janskerkhof, Dom Square, Begijne Square. Everywhere you’ll find DJs and artists performing.
Visiting Kingsday with kids? Utrecht is a great place to attend Kingsday with the whole family. It is less crowded than Amsterdam, and there are many activities organized, especially for kids. When you go to Miffy Square at Park Lepelenburg, you can attend the free-market for kids. Great fun!
The biggest city in the northern part of The Netherlands is also great to attend during Kingsday. Celebrating Kingsday in Groningen is choosing for a truly traditional Kingsday. The city has many activities, and there are a few events you can attend during Kingsnight. However, the most popular events are organized during Kingsday itself.
Of course, you’ll find a largely free market in Groningen. Which is every year organized between the Coehoornsingel, Ganzevoortsingel, Praediniussingel, Ubbo Emmiussingel in the city center. At Westerkade, you’ll find the kids-market.
The canal belt of Groningen turns into a Kingsday parade with many boats attending. And at the large vismarkt square there’s a music festival with different live bands performing. The Kingsland festival is also organized in Groningen, which is located at Groningen City Park.
The city in the southern part of The Netherlands, in the province Noord-Brabant that is known for its Burgundian lifestyle and hospitality, is also one of the best places to celebrate Kingsday.
For a few years, the biggest Kingsday festival of The Netherlands; 538 Kingsday, which is organized by a large Dutch radio station, is held in Breda. The festival attracts over 40.000 people and has a lineup of 25 renowned (inter)national artists. When you’re into big music events, 538 Kingsday is definitely worth a visit!
Of course, you can visit other activities in Breda, like a traditional free-market or small festivities at one of the many cafe’s. However, the Kingsday festival is the most significant in the city!
Check out this video from Kingsday in Breda last year (the lyrics are in Dutch, but you’ll get the vibe ;)):
Celebrate Kingsday With The Locals
When you don’t feel much for large crowds, you might be better off avoiding the bigger cities. Groningen and The Hague are both cities that would be great for a visit. Still busy, but not as bustling as the other cities during Kingsday.
It is also a great idea to visit a smaller village or city and explore the festivities there. Almost everywhere in the country, you’ll find free-markets and a fair with some local food and music performances where people gather to celebrate Kingsday.
Some great smaller cities which you can attend during Kingsday are;
In all these cities it is not as busy as in the large cities, but the activities are kind of similar at a much smaller scale, of course.
Do you want to know more about the Dutch cities, which are great for a visit? Read our article about the 26 Best Cities in The Netherlands.
Tips to Prepare for Kingsday
Are you as excited to celebrate Kingsday as we are? We always plan our travels around Kingsday and are trying to be in The Netherlands during Kingsday celebrations. We feel it is the best period to be in The Netherlands!
When you attend the Kingsday celebrations, there are a few things you need to think of to be prepared in the best way possible.
Choose a Place To Celebrate
The whole country celebrates Kingsday, and although The Netherlands is easy to travel around, during Kingsday, it is better to pick a city where you stay during the day. Public transport can be very busy and not all the trains are running during this day. Also, when you want to visit Amsterdam, for example, and you still need to travel the same day to the city, it can take much longer to get there. A lot of people are trying to do the same, so it can be very busy.
You don’t want to travel all day, because then you’ll miss the best part of the celebrations.
So make sure to choose the city in advance, where you want to celebrate Kingsday. And get to know the yearly program of the city. Performances will vary every year.
Book a Place to Stay in Advance
Every city in The Netherlands will be bustling during the kingsday celebrations. Finding a place to stay can be difficult. We recommend booking a place to stay in advance. Most accommodations will likely be fully booked during Kingsday.
Booking.com is our go-to booking engine for (hotel)accommodations. The best booking tip we can give you is to read the customer reviews about the accommodation. We always search for a place to stay that gets recent customer reviews with a score of 9.0 or higher.
You can also use this search engine that links directly to Booking.com:
Buy Your Tickets in Advance
When you decide to attend a festival, like 538 Kingsday, for example, make sure to buy your tickets in advance. The most festivals will sell out their tickets during Kingsday
When tickets are sold out for a particular event, don’t buy tickets second hand. You might end up purchasing invalid tickets. The only safe way to buy second-hand e-tickets in The Netherlands is via Ticketswap.com, which is a market place where people can sell their tickets if they can’t go to an event.
Dress Up in Orange
Orange is the National color of The Netherlands. And during Kingsday everyone dresses up in orange. So if you want to join the celebrations in the Dutch way, make sure to dress up in orange!
Bring Enough Change
When you go to one of the free markets, make sure to bring enough change or small money. Almost all the products on the free-market are sold for 1 Euro or less. So don’t show up with banknotes of 20 euro or higher, because people won’t have enough money to give you your change.
Watch Your Stuff
The most Kingsday celebrations in the cities are busy with thousands of people. The bustling crowds are heaven for pickpockets. Make sure that you leave your valuable belongings at your hotel or a safe place. And watch the stuff you are bringing along.
If you bring a small backpack, for example, we recommend using a luggage lock (link to Amazon), so people can’t open your backpack while walking around.
When you still need to travel around during Kingsday, check the public transport schedules before. Many cities will change the schedules during this day. And some trains that are connecting the cities won’t run during kingsday.
The schedules vary per city and also are different every year. The latest information will be made public around Kingsday on the national public transport website and the website of the national train company.
Food & Drinks
Bringing your own food and (alcoholic) drinks is traditional during Kingsday. However, at many events where you need to buy a ticket, it is not allowed to bring your own drinks and food. Make sure to check their conditions before visiting.
Also, in many cities, there’s an official alcohol-ban. Which means you can’t walk around with your own beers throughout the city. Still, many people are drinking their beers or liquor on the streets during Kingsday. So it is kind of a grey area. Most of the time, when you’re not causing any trouble or be stupid drunk, you’ll be fine.
Make sure to ask around what the rules are when you are visiting a city. The rules vary per city. Amsterdam has a strict policy nowadays, where they allow alcoholic drinks in designated areas.
We recommend you to prepare this because you don’t want to end up with a big fine while you just bought a cheap beer! 😉
Read more about The Netherlands!
Planning a trip to our home country is exciting. It can be a bit overwhelming as well. There’s so much to see and do in this small country, you can easily spend several days exploring! We wrote several articles to help you plan the best trip to The Netherlands;
Dutch People Weird Things
The Dutch people are known worldwide, but somehow most people know us for the weird things we do. Yes, we dress up in orange during Kingsday or when our Dutch National Football Team needs to play. And we love to eat licorice and bitterballen. Read our article when you want to learn more about the weird things Dutch people are known for.
Best Cities in The Netherlands
Are you still deciding which city you want to visit next to Amsterdam? We wrote an article where we tell you all about the 26 best cities in The Netherlands. The best places to go to these cities and the best time to visit. Go check it out!
Best Time to Visit The Netherlands
Kingsday is for us the start of a unique period in The Netherlands. This national celebration is not the only thing why we love to be in the country during this period. Between April and May, there are many national celebrations like Kingsday and Liberation Day (5th of May). Also, it is possible to visit the beautiful flower fields and Keukenhof during this period.
Check out our article about The Best Time to Visit The Netherlands
These articles are just a few of the articles we wrote about The Netherlands. We try to give you the best information about our beloved country. There’s much more to find on Made For Travellers about The Netherlands. Check out the list with all our articles about The Netherlands.