Queen’s Day in a nutshell – celebrating in Amsterdam
On the 30th of April, the city of Amsterdam descends into chaos… or more chaos than per norm. People from different parts of the city or different parts of Europe fly in for the large celebration known as Queen’s Day.
Queen’s Day is actually a celebration of Queen Juliana’s birthday; the mother of the current Queen Beatrix. 2013 will actually be the last year of Queen’s Day since Queen Beatrix will be stepping down to give way to her son Willem-Alexander to be the next King. In 2014, Queen’s Day will be known as King’s Day and celebrated a few days earlier on 27th April. Though that would probably be the only difference as far as celebrating goes.
Things to know about Queen’s/ King’s Day
1) Wear orange
Regardless of who exactly we will be celebrating, one thing is f or sure. Come dressed in your best orange gear! Everyone around the city and even around Netherlands puts on something orange as celebration of the Dutch royal family – the House of Oranje-Nassau. So go crazy and put on something orange, or wear all orange! Trust me you may be the only person not covered in orange otherwise. Feel free to wear something light and loose, or fully covered up. The weather (usually, but no guarantee) is a beautiful 20-25 degrees making it ideal for pretty much everything. I would still wear something pretty warm though, unless you were planning on only partying in packed areas like the Jordaan.
2) Book things, like party boats in advance
By now, if you were an avid Queen’s Day party-er you would have already gotten your boat booked out with the appropriate list of people on it and an estimate of how much food and booze you need to bring onto the boat. If you aren’t keen to arrange a boat booking by yourself, now is a good time to troll websites like Meetup.com to see if you can get yourself onto someone’s boat. There are limited spots (due to safety of course) but trust me, this is something you do not want to miss. There is nothing like being on a boat with your friends, good music blasting in the air, some drinks and snacks, and gyrating on the boat as it makes its way all around the Amsterdam canals. I would love to give you some pointers on where to make a boat booking or how much it is, but to be honest, I tried to hop onto a boat when I was living in Amsterdam and the deal fell through too late so I didn’t have time to research where else I could rent a boat. One alternative could be to reach out to PartyWithALocal They may be able to help hook you up.
That being said, don’t forget that this is insane party time for the ‘Dam-ers, so book your hotels and hostels and airbnb’s in advance as well and be prepared to pay full price.
3) Plan out your day; where to meet your friends
None of the trams or busses will be running this day, so expect to walk everywhere. That being said, forget your high heels and just wear your flats. You will be outside partying from around 10-11 a.m. till night time. Hell, if you were a real hard core partier, you would have been partying from the night before. Check out http://www.iamsterdam.com/ for more details on exact party locations.
What I did and I thought worked really well, was to start the morning at Vondelpark. This is where everyone heads out to mark their spots and sell random items. Vondelpark is a fun location because of its size, access and family/child friendly vibe. You may get boys and girls doing songs and dance for a little money, or creative games on offer. I got an awesome dragon shield for EU 1. Its also a good place to start the morning (sober) with enough time to pick up cool stuff, get your face painted, buy a quick lunch to eat in the park and head back to drop off your things.
After that we walked from Vondelpark to Leidseplein (entertainment central) before heading out to the Jordaan. Perhaps it was due to timing, but we had an easy walk to the Leidseplein, and scouted a wonderful Brazilian bar that was throwing a street party. Amazing feeling dancing like crazy in the middle of the streets of Amsterdam. Things had not gone full blown yet (this was maybe around 1 p.m.) and so you could actually still walk along the Leidseplein.
In making your way to the Jordaan, I would highly recommend doing what we did, which was to follow the back/ small lanes. The Jordaan itself is packed to the brim (again with people selling things) but also with pop-up street parties everywhere so best to try and get in through the small lanes. Once there though, expect to be face to face with everyone else with serious partying going on.
So this is pretty much where the party ended for me. I had made the mistake of not drinking enough water on what was probably the hottest day in Amsterdam (actually it was only ~25 degrees). And so I ended up leading my friends through a haze and ended up getting so lost (and me with a massive headache) that I had to call a cab to bring us back. Learn from me, drink a lot of water! And bring your sunglasses with you.
Other areas you should check out (which I never got around to), Rembrandtplein which also houses good fun open space, Museumplein for the free concert at night, as well as the Red Light district and NewMarkt for some fun fair, beer garden fun.
In case you do get separate from your friends, try to identify a place and a time to meet up, and if anything else, don’t say “I’ll be the one in the Orange top”.
So get ready, Queen’s day is only 8 weeks away! Book your flights, your hotels and your party boat!
Happy soon to be Queen’s Day Amsterdam! I am missing you loads!