Queens Day Amsterdam - Things to Do in Amsterdam on Queens Day

Together with the Gay Pride, Queens Day in Amsterdam (Koninginnedag, April 30th) is the biggest annual event in the city. It's a national holiday celebrating the Queen's birthday, but nowhere is the party bigger than in Amsterdam.

Thousands visit Amsterdam on Queens Day to enjoy a carnival type event, beginning the night before (Queens Night). With markets, free live concerts, dancing, drinking and all kinds of outdoor events, Amsterdam is the place to be.

Crowded but Relaxed

Amsterdam Queens Day

On Queens Day Amsterdam becomes very crowded and draws visitors from all around the country, and even abroad. However, the feeling is relaxed and fun with people just wanting to have a good time.

Massive concerts are staged in the major squares and parks, the biggest being on Museumplein and then on other spots around the city including Rembrandtplein, Leidseplein and the Stoperaplein situated at the Waterlooplein. Many cafes are open from 9am and alcohol may be sold on the streets from 11am - so quite some people are already very merry by noon. The canals are full of orange boats.

Radio stations often sponsor these concerts and there is live national TV coverage from in and around Dam Square.

The Orange Invasion

Queens Day in Amsterdam

Orange is the informal national colour of the Netherlands (stemming from the Royal House of Orange), so on Queens Day people swath themselves in orange clothes, hats, wigs, fancy dress, painting their face and body. The rule of thumb: the more outrageous, the better.

Every shop window will be dressed with orange displays, orange flags flutter furiously, orange balloons hang from endless lampposts and doorways, shops and food vendors sell orange coloured food and drink, even the water in some fountains is dyed orange.

So don't forget to pack your orange T-shirt when you're in Amsterdam on April 30th.

The Freemarket

Queens Day Freemarket in Amsterdam

Queens Day is also the only day in the year when rummage sales are allowed almost everywhere in Amsterdam. As the Dutch are natural traders, herds of Amsterdammers clean out their attics, claim a piece of sidewalk and start selling stuff they no langer want for 1 or 2 euros. The earned money is immediately spent on other rummage to fill up their attic again.

It's a wonderful social event and you will find improvised market stalls everywhere on street corners and in parks. People sell old books, clothes, toys, small furniture and just about anything you can imagine. This free market (Vrijmarkt) is more for fun than commercial gain, so look out for a bargain.

To make sure they also get their share of the pie, only children can sell stuff in the Vondelpark on Queens Day.

Queens Night (Koninginnenacht)

As we wrote, the party starts the night before Queens Day (Koninginnenacht or Queens Night). If you like going to bars and clubs, it's the perfect occasion to do so. Cafes, bars and clubs can be open extra late (until 3am to 6am, depending on their license).

Fun for the Kids

But Queens Day in Amsterdam is not just about the adults. All kinds of games and activities for the children can be found. Head out to one of the many parks (especially the Vondelpark) where you will come across puppet shows, kids and adults performing musical acts, street entertainers and face painters.

The Gay Scene

Amsterdam is renowned for it's gay and lesbian scene. All the gay clubs and bars celebrate Queens Day in Amsterdam (with a wink towards the 'queen' part) and there is usually a wonderful open-air party for the gay and lesbian citizens held on the Westermarkt where the Homo Monument is situated and a second party is also held at the Reguliersdwarsstraat.

Rules and Warnings

  • Drinking alcohol in the streets is allowed during Queens Night and Queens Day in Amsterdam. But officially, you can carry only one bottle or can of alcohol. If you have more, police may confiscate it. But alcohol is sold everywhere, so no need to carry lots of it.
  • On Queens Day, no cars are allowed into the Amsterdam city center and all public transport has a special schedule. So if you wish to enter or leave the city at some point, it is advisable to check in advance.
  • All the main food stores are open on Queens Day, but most other shops are closed.
  • As the crowds are perfect for pick pockets, better keep your valuables in your hotel.

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