From all-night raves to beachside festivals, Amsterdammers are notoriously fond of a good excuse to party. But one day takes the (orange-glazed) cake: King’s Day. The whole country heads to the streets to celebrate King Willem-Alexander’s birthday, and there’s no better place to join in the fun than Amsterdam. Strap on your walking shoes, wear something orange and join the crowds. Here’s what not to miss on the day.
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 Vijzelstraat or Haarlemmerstraat, which marks the start of the show. Still not satisfied with the view? Try to rent a vessel of your own, or pay to stand on a boat moored on the side of the canal – it’s an excellent excuse 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. From either spot, it’s an easy stroll to the colourful gay bars on Reguliersdwarsstraat or Zeedijk. Expect booming 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 are allowed to practice their best sales patter.
King’s Day has no shortage of food stands, run by cafés and industrious locals alike. 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.