Kings Day is the biggest festival day on Amsterdams calendar. Its an annual event that sees the city turn orange; both in its decorations and the clothes people wear. This year it will be taking place on April 27th.
One of the unique aspects of this citywide festival is that it is uninterrupted by traffic, given that cars, trams and bikes are all banned from the area for the day, to allow revellers to make their way from one place to another more easily. Street vendors line the streets serving delicious food throughout the day and night, an enormous market place springs up out of nowhere, selling everything imaginable, while live music, with bands and DJs, as well as plenty of parties, are there to be enjoyed by all.
A big highlight of the day is when it gets dark and brightly lit up boats sail up and down the canals. Many of the boats encourage dancing on the decks to the music that seems to spill from every corner of the city. Although a lot of the partying happens at night, this is also a family friendly festival. Quite a few of the museums will be closed, but there will be various child orientated games, contests, sporting events and facepainting to keep the little ones busy.
The Van Gogh museum, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Anne Frank House will all be open. As the streets are going to be very busy, given that up to a million extra people will descend on Amsterdam for the day, there is a chance you wont be able to get on one of the boats. Instead, you can watch the parade from one of the citys 1500 bridges, or take part in the dancing in the street and squares. This festival has only been called Kings Day since 2014, when King Willem-Alexander was inaugurated. It is a celebration of the Kings birthday. Before that, it was on a slightly different date and known as Queens Day.
Its because the Dutch Royal family are from the House of Orange-Nassau, that the colour orange is the dominant theme of the day. Orange clothes are worn, as well as orange shoes. Even orange make up, wigs and hats. Whatever you can lay your hands on that is orange will be perfect. The Royals are well liked and its out of pride for them that everyone takes part. Every Kings Day, the Royals will visit a town or region in the Netherlands to take part in the celebrations.
Here at Aspen Travel we offer numerous breaks that will either take you directly to Amsterdam, or allow you to pass through it as part of a river cruise. Should you wish to travel around different historic landmarks off the European waterways, either before or after your experience of the spectacular fun of Kings Day, our team of trusted advisors will be able to find you a tour, or cruise, to suit your needs, preferences and budget.
Firstly, lets have a look at some of the main attractions you could be visiting during your stay, as well as the sort of Dutch delicacies you could be enjoying…
Amsterdams main attractions
The centrally located Dam Square is a great place to start any exploration of Amsterdam and its close to everything else. On Kings Day youll find live music here and plenty of vendors selling alcohol and food.
One of the must-see museums during your visit to the city is the Anne Frank house. This is a preserved house where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis during the second world war. Her diaries detail the atrocities of war and the Holocaust and are renowned worldwide for their historical contribution in helping us understand the fear and pain experienced by persecuted Jews at that time.
To visit the other museums open on Kings Day, youll need to head over to Museumplein, which is where youll find the works of the famous impressionist, Van Gogh, in the Van Gogh museum, Dutch arts and historical artefacts in the National Museum; the Rijksmuseum and important modern works of art in the Stedelijk Museum. Of course, you probably want to take in the landmarks for which Amsterdam is famous too. The canals are everywhere. You wont be able to miss them. And as for windmills, there is one in the heart of the city. Its the Brouwerijtij, A famous Dutch Brewery.
The red light district comprises of a series of alleyways that links sex museums, sex shops and Brussels. It is also a fascinating site. As for the famous coffee houses of Amsterdam, they are also well worth a visit in order to enjoy a cup of coffee or any of the other famous menu offerings here. The top music events of Kings Day take place at five main venues; Meerpark, Pampuslaan, RAI, Olympisch Gebied and Turbinestraat. You will need to buy tickets in advance, as there wont be any for sale on the door, but our agents will be able to advise you.
Eating out in Amsterdam
Foodies and non-discerning hungry revellers alike will be impressed by the range of flavours available from the food stalls that line the streets. Along with international dishes, youll find plenty of Dutch delicacies too. Heres our guide to the best tastes of Amsterdam.
Bitterballen are deep fried meatballs and your best friend when you have a few too many ales, as they will help soak up the alcohol. You can find them in most beer serving outlets for that reason. Dutch fries will also do the trick. They are thick and traditionally eaten with mayonnaise and curry sauce. Cheese also tastes great with beer, or wine, and there are plenty of varieties to choose from. Youve probably had Dutch Gouda, but it tastes even better from its native land.
If youre feeling brave you could try raw herring, but Kiebbling is the fish for fish lovers who like to play it safe. Its battered cod bites covered in herbs. Stamppot is a meal for the day after. Itll soak up any remaining alcohol residue and is similar to bubble and squeak.
For those with a sweet tooth, youll find a huge number of cakes and pastries to sink your teeth into. You might have seen stroop waffles in some of the large coffee chains in the UK. There is quite a buzz about them at the moment. However, there is nothing like eating them fresh from a street vendor in the Netherlands.
Oliebollen are sweet dumplings and poffertjes are sweet battered goods. Both are best devoured covered in powdered sugar. As for Ontbijkoek, its ginger cake that is spread thickly with butter and is utterly delicious.
Booking your trip to Amsterdam
Booking your trip to Amsterdam need not be complicated. All you need to do is either email or phone our experienced team of travel agents here at Aspen Travel via the contact form below. We will be able to give you details of all the river cruises, short city breaks and escorted tours we offer that can extend and expand your experience of Amsterdam
You might wish to take a river cruise along the Rhine to see fairytale castles and the picturesque winegrowing regions of Germany, or you might want to head onto the river Seine and into Paris. Its also possible to take a river cruise further east in Europe, along the romantic Danube, through Vienna and into Hungarys impressive capital, Budapest
Whatever your travel preferences, well be able to help. Please get in touch with Aspen Travel to discover the best way to make the most of your trip to Amsterdam.