If you’re going to be in Amsterdam tomorrow, you are in luck. For tomorrow is Queen’s Day.
Every year on April 30, the entire Netherlands celebrates this holiday honoring the birthday of the Dutch queen. It's a chance for the country to come together in national unity and togetherness. It’s a real feel-good day in the Netherlands.
The biggest scene is in Amsterdam, where the streets and the canals come alive with parties, merry-making and general good times for all ages. This Travel Channel video gives a nice overview of the day, if you can stick with it through 3 minutes and 42 seconds. (There's even a guy in the background mooning the camera at one point, if you look closely.)
Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) is more than just a party though. It’s the only day of the year when people don’t need a permit to play music or sell things in public. So, kids and adults alike set up shop wherever they want, to play instruments, sing songs, play games, and buy and sell all kinds of crafts and wares.
The Queen's Day tradition started on August 31, 1885, which was the birthday of Princess Wilhelmina (who later became Queen Wilhelmina). In 1949, when Queen Juliana took over the throne, they moved the celebration to her birthday April 30, and the tradition stuck. The current Queen Beatrix was actually born on January 31, but she officially celebrates her birthday on April 30 with the rest of the country (not sure when she gets her cake and presents though).
Birthdays aside, this is one great day to be in Amsterdam. A lot of good vibes, camaraderie, music, food, drink... what more could you want from a spring day?
Oh, and everyone wears orange, the Netherlands’ national color. So don’t forget your orange shirt.