Surviving King’s Day in Amsterdam
I like to call Amsterdam the Vegas of Europe, only with less gambling and much more sin. I’m sure the locals would say something different to my previous statement and while Amsterdam does have much, much more to offer then a few days of drinking and tomfoolery; King’s Day brings all those qualities out in abundance.
What and When Is Kings Day ?
King’s Day (Koningsdag in Dutch) is an annual national holiday in the Netherlands in honor of the dutch King (or Queen if there is one and would be called Queen’s Day when there is) and normally celebrated around the last weekend of April. The city center is closed to traffic and taxis for the 1m+ visitors that descend into the city for the night before and the day of King’s Day.
While King’s Day is a national holiday for the dutch, traditionally Amsterdam is the epicenter of the celebrations. I was attracted to visit for the first time back in 2011 and was drawn to Amsterdam not just for the many parties and concerts but to experience the sights and sounds of the city’s canals filled to the brim with boats and orange wearing locals. Plus the added bonus of all the amazing architecture that surrounds the canals across the entire city make the whole experience a treat.
Quite often the boats will be full of party go-ers with loud music, not in an obnoxious way but one where you want to join in and celebrate with them. Which is what King’s Day in Amsterdam is all about.
Expect to see locals selling their wears on the streets, which is basically a huge jumble sale or garage sale. Everyone will be wearing orange, and I mean everyone, old and young so don’t feel left out join in and grab something orange from a local vendor or take something in your luggage.
There is plenty of live music around to enjoy with bands and DJs springing up from almost endless corners, if you want to enjoy the larger events then they are normally hosted out the outskirts of the city. You may want to look those up online before you head out to Amsterdam.
How To King's Day like a pro
If you got down this far it sounds like you are wanting to head out to Amsterdam and see for yourself and I haven’t even talked about photography yet !
- You may want to stay outside of the city so you get some quiet at night time, I highly recommend you do and book early (Jan / Feb time) as the city gets full.
- Take hand sanitizer, you will thank me later.
- If you are taking your camera along with you make sure you have a sling bag that can sit around your front as well as your back such as the Think Tank Photo Photocross 13 or 15. While crime is low in Amsterdam there are pick pockets to watch out for like any large event of this size. So take care of your camera gear and take as little as you can, although you will eat batteries as the sights are plentiful.
- If you are planning of having a few beers (of course you are) the do the drinking the night before which is just as fun, the next day means you can suck up all the atmosphere and fun of the day without feeling like you’re missing out. You can always drink later 🙂
- Book any of the tulip tours early too, if you are planning on going full tourist.
- Take a backup waterproof shell, weather can still turn cold in the evening.
- The street food is expensive and patchy in quality, Amstelhaven is open late and serves decent food without the huge queues. The Breakfast Club is good for those hang over blues too. Café Loetje is a bit off the beaten track but worth it for the steak alone.
- Expect a long wait getting a taxi, it’s worth walking south of the city for a mile or so to catch one.