/ The Amsterdam Guide
Amsterdam — By Marianne on April 18, 2010 at 9:35 am
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Only Orange Counts on Queen’s Day

Make sure your Amsterdam spring holiday coincides with 30th April, Queen Beatrix’s official birthday. Celebrations take place throughout the country, but festivities in Amsterdam are more flamboyant and on a larger scale. On Koninginnedag, Queen’s Day, the city transforms itself into one vast orange sea of people. Orange caps, hats, feather boas, jackets, clogs, socks and face paint are the day’s fashion. Orange balloons float in the air. Orange-themed window displays dazzle the eye. Pastries smothered in orange cream and icing beg to be eaten. Don your orange clothes and join the milling crowd of revelers.


The official name of the Dutch Royal family is Van Oranje Nassau. Queen Beatrix’s lineage dates back to Willem van Oranje, William of Orange, hence the name. He was count of Nassau-Dillenburg and became Prince of Oranje in 1544, founding the house Oranje-Nassau.

Only Orange Counts


Festivities on Queen’s Day spread like ripples through the city. Dam Square becomes a fair ground. Live bands play outside bars. Barges are crammed with people in head-to-toe orange. Music blasts from huge sound systems. A solid jam of beer-drinking merry-makers provides the audience. Vondelpark, Leidseplein and Rembrandtplein are the hot spots to soak up the festive atmosphere.


More than a million people throng the streets hunting for bargains at the vrijmarkt. Thousands of stalls sell bric-a-brac, handmade items, DVDs, books, collectors’ tins and homemade pastries from aisles along the pavements. Vrijmarkt translates as free market. It is a flea market with a difference, held once a year, always on 30th April. Anyone, children, grandmas, mothers and teenagers alike sell anything anywhere without a license and tax free.

Months ahead of the big day children but also adults start collecting second-hand clothes, no longer loved Teddy bears, toy trains, surplus cups and saucers and lots more. Their Koninginnedag starts early because they have to secure a place and the best places are taken first.

Vondelpark is reserved for children. They sell the toys they have grown out of. While you sip lemonade and munch cookies (baked by enthusiastic mothers), children will entertain you with their homemade puppet theatre. Music lessons and ballet classes are also brought into practice. Listen to a young Mozart or watch a tiny Margot Fonteyn or Anna Pavlova. They perform not for art’s sake but are true capitalists. Watch their faces glow when your euro jingles in their tin container.


* Don your orange clothes and join the party. Don’t worry if you have not got anything that colour. Get your orange top hat or gloves at the vrijmarkt.
* Listen to the outdoor concerts at Museumplein and Rembrandtplein.
* Sip orange liqueur at Wynand Fockink Tasting Bar, Pijlsteeg 31.
* Join the queue at the Ferris Wheel on Dam Square for a bird’s eye view of the city.
* Jump on a jam-packed boat.
* Cheer at revelers from bridges and quays.
* Browse the flea market stalls.
* Buy from the children’s flea market in Vondelpark.
* Join the all-day / night street parties.


* Book accommodation early
* Zigzag through the crowd to get from A to B. A normally ten-minute walk will take an hour.
* Luggage lockers at Amsterdam Centraal and Amsterdam Amstel stations will be closed from 29 April at 7 pm until 1 May 7 am, for security reasons.
* Public transport has stopped. If you need to travel from or to Schiphol Airport take Connexxion bus 258 to Marnixstraat bus station.
*Pickpockets also wear orange clothes.

Street happenings, markets, crowds, orange, music, beer, all day and late night parties, public celebrations and organized debauchery make Koninginnedag stand out. Plan your trip now. Celebrate this festive day together with a million locals and tourists.

Orange Cup Cakes

Bric-a-Brac at the Flea Market

photo credits:
Amsterdam Canal: courtesy of Bogdan  Honciuc
Cup Cakes and Flea Market, personal collection

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