Last year we spent Koningsdag in Zwolle. This year (April 27, sorry I’m late posting this) we decided to stay in Hilversum and see what the Mediastad does for the holiday. Downtown was full of carnival games, rides, food vendors, DJs, buskers, vrijmarkt verkopers*, and revelers in orange clothing. People donned paper or plastic crowns, orange t-shirts, scarves, leis, and hats. Some people painted the Dutch flag on their cheeks and sprayed their hair orange. I even saw one guy wearing the Dutch flag as a cape.
Near the Raadhuis, a bunch of children’s games were set up: bouncy castles, pony rides, sack races, and aquabubble (see below). Kids could also visit the petting zoo or check out the fire truck. And of course, tents full of pancakes, burgers, and candy.
*Vrijmarkt – The rules for selling are relaxed on Koningsdag so you don’t need a permit to sell goods. Many people sell their old unwanted items in what is basically a nationwide yard sale. Kids often end up manning the stalls (aka a blanket on the ground covered in goods to sell) and some also sell cold drinks or homemade treats.
This year April 26 marked the first ever Koningsdag (or King’s Day). Previously, the day was celebrated as Koninginnedag (or Queen’s Day) however since the queen abdicated last year the Netherlands now has a king. The Dutch celebrate by wearing orange (the national color), selling things, and partying.
Since Koningsdag fell on a Saturday many people began to celebrate Koningsnacht (King’s Night) on Friday. In Amsterdam, carnival rides and food vendors set up to help people celebrate. Every other shop sold orange clothing or accessories. Streets were lined with orange balloons, garlands, and Dutch flags. Hilversum also had a carnival and food vendors along the main street. Mike and I forgot it was Koningsnacht and decided to head down town for gelato. We grabbed gelato then ran into some of Mike’s coworkers so we stopped to have a beer or two with them. I don’t know if that counts as celebrating Koningsnacht but I am going to count it.
Everyone told us that Amsterdam on Koningsdag is a must see sight and very crowded. I did visit Amsterdam on Friday so I feel like I got a taste of what it would be like on Saturday. However, Mike and I aren’t really crazy about crowds so we opted to visit friends in Zwolle. We still got the food, music, and all the orange but less crowds. We also visited a farm (more on that in my next post).