All about Queen’s Day

Wondering why all that orange is showing up in the shops? Heard about this Willem-Alexander person, but don’t know who he is? Here’s our advice for surviving (and celebrating) Queen’s Day.

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Queen’s Day in Amsterdam, 2012/Photo: Akshay Visweswaran

I’ve been living under a rock. What is Queen’s Day?

The most important thing to know is that the Dutch like to party. Add a royal twist, and you’ve got one epic event. Queen’s Day, or Koninginnedag, is a national holiday celebrated on April 30 every year, to mark the birthday of the reigning Queen, Queen Beatrix. The day is marked with a nation-wide outdoor party, flea markets, concerts, games, beer and crazy crowds dressed in orange.

But isn’t Queen Beatrix’s birthday on January 31st?
Yes. But, January isn’t really great party weather is it? In honour of her mother, Queen Juliana, and the great Dutch love of sunshine, Queen Beatrix decided to continue celebrating on her mother’s birthday.

Why’s everyone calling this the last Queen’s Day?
Because it is. On April 30, in a coronation ceremony that will be broadcast live all over the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix will crown her son, Willem- Alexander, as King.

Does that mean no more partying in 2014?
Of course not. The party will henceforth be called Koningsdag, King’s Day. Thankfully, King Willem-Alexander’s birthday is on April 27, so the party will continue to be in spring. Next year though, it will be held on April 26, since his birthday falls on a Sunday.

So, how can I celebrate Queen’s Day in Delft?
Step out of your house for starters. The little town of Delft will be a hustle bustle of activity. “There’ll be a flea market all across town and food stalls with typical Dutch food. An entertainment programme is being organised at the Markt with dance groups, live bands and lots of fanfare. Every restaurant will up the ante for their regulars. So you can enjoy great Blues at Plan B and dance to the DJ’s on Burgwal,” says Nick Keijzer, Marketing and Communications, Bureau Binnenstad, Delft.

I don’t own a TV. Can I still watch the coronation?
“At the Markt, you can follow the whole event live on a high definition screen placed next to the stage. The abdication and homage will be played from 10.00 till 11.00 and 14.00 till 15.00,” says Keijzer.

Do I have to wear orange?
Of course. We recommend finding your loudest orange accessories. The tradition started in honour of the name of the royal household, Oranje. If you don’t have anything orange, don’t worry. The streets will be full of vendors hawking all things oranje, from giant sunglasses to tall hats, and even orange holders for all those beer cans you’re going to buy.

Where else can I party?
It’s a nation-wide party. So, anywhere.

Will I be hung-over? 
Yes.

Den Haag 
The Haagse Koninginnedag is going all out to mark the holiday. Monthlong festivities in the city kicked off in April, offering loads of ‘royal’ fun. From carriage rides around the city, a Queen’s Day concert by The Hague Philharmonic, rides on historic trams and special boat tours.
http://www.haagsekoningsdag.nl

Amsterdam 
Amsterdam is the scene of the real action. The royal ceremony will take place at the Royal Palace at Dam Square and the Nieuwe Kerk following which, the new King and his wife, Queen Maxima, will take a boat tour.
http://www.koninginnedagamsterdam.nl

Rotterdam 
The annual circus opens on April 29, so you can check out acrobatic feats, dance, theatre and music. Festivities will be on across the city, with a Queen’s festival at Plein 1940, an ongoing fair, an after-party with performances by big names, and fireworks at night.
http://www.rotterdam.nl/programmakoninginnedag

First published in the Survival Guide series in TU Delta on April 25. Read it online here

Survival Guide

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