Little did we know when we first planned our arrival in Amsterdam that we would awake to find ourselves slap-bang in the middle of the year’s biggest celebration of all things Dutch- and orange. It was Koningsdag, King’s Day, a national holiday to celebrate King Willem-Alexander’s birthday and unlike our beginning-of-winter day off for the Queen’s Birthday back home in Australia, King’s Day is full on spring madness.
The Amsterdam streets are jammed with 700,000 locals and up to one million visitors who dress in patriotic orange (King Willem-Alexander hails from the house of Orange-Nassau) and, pretty much, go crazy. The canals are filled with crowded boats and barges throbbing with techno/doof-doof music, major intersections are taken over by DJs, beer flows frighteningly freely, suburbs are converted into “frijmarkts”or free-markets, which are basically community garage sales conducted on a blanket on the footpath and, overall, a good time is had by all!
Not even the shoulder to shoulder crowds, the ever-present possibility of a boat-load of revellers capsizing their precarious craft and plunging into the chilly canals, the brightly coloured (but rather disturbing) plastic urinals plonked down around town or the general chaos of the whole day could spoil the fun or the spectacle… Happy King’s Day!