If you didn't know that orange was the national colour of the Netherlands, it wouldn't take you long to realise this on the 27th April. On this day (or the 26th April if the 27th falls on a Sunday) the whole country turns orange to celebrate King's Day (Koningsdag). A tradition and national holiday since 1890.
Formerly known as Koninginnedag or Queen's Day, when Queen Beatrix ascended the throne in 1980 she retained the celebration on 30 April, her mother's, Queen Juliana's birthday, despite her actual birthday occurring on 31 January. Queen Beatrix abdicated on Koninginnedag 2013 which led to the accession of the first King since the observance of the national holiday, King Willem-Alexander. Hence, from 2014, the holiday became known as Koningsdag or King's Day and the date moved to 27 April, the birthday of King Willem-Alexander.
The normally straight-laced Dutch really let their hair down and make the most of the festivities. Known as oranjegekte, or orange madness after the national colour, the Dutch dress up in the most unlikely and extravagant orange outfits often topped off with an orange wig or over-sized orange sunglasses. Then it's all aboard the canal boats to live the real King's Day experience with friends and family. It's the largest and most colourful festival in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam where the whole city stops and the party starts.
If you're visiting Amsterdam to enjoy Koningsdag, then may we suggest you refer to our Amsterdam city and bar guide.
Koningsdag is also renowned for vrijmarkt. Literally translating as 'free market', this is best likened to a national boot fair where the Dutch sell unwanted possessions.
One of our Dutch bartender friends and finalist of Diageo's World Class competition in 2012, Fjalar Goud, also crafted a cocktail using Ketel One vodka to honour the day. Called The King Of Orange he crowned the cocktail, literally, with a zest of orange.
Let's join our Dutch friends and raise a toast to the King - Proost!