King’s Day in Amsterdam is the biggest party of the year. From all-night raves to beachside festivals, Amsterdammers are notoriously fond of a good excuse to party. On 27 April, the whole country heads to the streets to celebrate King Willem-Alexander’s birthday, and there’s no better place for it than compact Amsterdam.
Strap on your walking shoes, wear something orange and join the crowds. Here’s what not to miss on the day and five insider facts to help you prep for the big party.
The fun-spirited boat parade along the Prinsengracht (the outermost of the main canals) is the heart of the party. For the best views, head into town early to grab a spot along Vijelstraat or Haarlemmerstraat. Still not happy with the vista? Plan well ahead to rent a vessel of your own and have your own Amsterdam Kings Day boat party. It’s the local way to make new friends.
When the boats start to bore, make a beeline for Jordaan and Rembrandtplein, where crowds converge for food, drink and live music. Nearby, the colourful gay bars on Reguliersdwarsstraat or Zeedijk have DJs, extravagant costumes and more glitter than you’ll ever need. If you have little ones in tow, head east to Bredeweg or north to NDSM, where the thinner crowds have a family-friendly vibe.
Beyond the frothy beers and bouncing boats, King’s Day is all about browsing for bargains you don’t really need. The whole city turns into an open-air flea market, with residents selling everything from furniture and books to home-baked treats. For the cutest vendors, though, head over to the Artis Zoo or Vondelpark, where only kids set up shop and practice their best sales patter.
There’s no shortage of street food on the big day. For a taste of tradition, though, sample the special edition tompouce. An Amsterdam-born spin on the mille-feuille, the typically bright-pink pastry turns orange with the rest of the country on this special day. You’ll find tompouce stands scattered around the streets, but for a taste of the real deal make a pit stop at Patisserie Holtkamp.