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Dutch National Holiday Kingsday

Updated on April 24, 2021
Kimberly Martis profile image

Kimberly Martis is a Dutch Caribbean freelance writer. She writes about culture, beauty, tv-shows, music, movies, odd jobs, and fiction.

One of the biggest national holidays in the Netherlands is Kingsday. It is celebrated nationwide by children and adults. It is such a great holiday to be apart of that not only the Dutch celebrate it but every year hundreds of tourists come to the Netherlands to celebrate the holiday with the Dutch.

History of Kingsday

1885 The first Princessday to celebrate the 5th birthday of princess Wilhelmina on 08/31

1891 The first Queensday as the princess was now queen Wilhelmina

1949 The first Queensday with Queen Juliana as she changed the date to 04/30

2014 The first Kingsday with King Willem - Alexander as he changed the date to 04/27*

*Even though King Willem - Alexander changed the date of Kingsday to 04/27 the first Kingsday was celebrated on 04/26 as the 27th was on a sunday.

The date change is not very well known internationally and a lot of tourists still come to the Netherlands on the 30th of april to celebrate the national holiday.


The Dutch Royal Family

Every year the royal family goes out together to celebrate the holiday. It is a real family outing as not only the King, his wife, and children go out. They are being joined by the former queen, other princesses, princes and more members of the royal family. They visit one or two different cities each year. As they walk through the city they interact with the Dutch public by talking to them, shaking hands and participating in (traditional) games. For the Dutch public, it is also a chance to see the royal family in person in an informal atmosphere.


There are a bunch of different activities that you can participate in during Kingsday. One of the most popular activities is selling your (old) stuff as it is a Dutch tradition to do this on Kingsday. A lot of people go out the day before Kingsday and chalk down “occupied” on the ground. This way they show others that this place is already taken/reserved. The word occupied (bezet in Dutch) brings up negative memories with people of Jewish descent living in The Netherland (because of World War associations) the government decided that it's not allowed anymore to chalk down the word occupied. Besides chalking down the word occupied a lot of people also stay out the whole night camping in the spot where they would like to sell stuff. The items that are being sold vary from clothing, toys, books to bicycles and everything in between.

There are also a bunch of street performers that show their skills. These are children and adults that play instruments, sing songs or make drawings in for free, but they give you the option to give them a small amount of money for their efforts.

One other big element of Kingsday is music. They are music festivals throughout the whole country. The biggest national artists (and some international artists) perform. There is not one kind of music that is being played so everyone can enjoy the music they love.

Games are also a big part of Kingsday. There are different games for children and adults to participate in. Most of them are traditional games that you can play for free or for a small compensation.

There are also a lot of people that sell food on the streets. Hot meals, fries, cotton candy, ice cream, popcorn, cookies and more. It is all being sold right there on the streets.

Not all of the fun is on the mainland though. There are a lot of boats that sail through the canals to enjoy the atmosphere and party with the rest of the Dutch people.


Dress Code

There is an unofficial dress code and it is orange. (Of course, not everyone wears something orange, but most do) You can wear whatever you want as long as it's orange or has orange in it. Seeing someone dressed in orange from head to toe is not an exception. Orange accessories are also great to wear. Hats, boa scarfs, necklaces, and sunglasses in orange are very popular and a great way to put an orange touch to your outfit. Besides wearing orange, a lot of people also paint their faces. Some paint their whole face others just a small part of it. Painting the Dutch flag on your cheeks is one of the most popular face paintings on Kingsday. This is something that little children and adults do.

© 2019 Kimberly Martis


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