Queen's day 2010 - Koninginnedag

Queen’s Day is a great excuse for the Dutch to party big every year. The day has a nice long Dutch translation too: Koninginnedag. I lived in The Netherlands for eight years and while my husband and I tried to check out different cities each year, we didn’t get much further past either Utrecht or Amsterdam. I have photos buried somewhere in my archives, but these few Flickr shots will give you an idea as to the amount of orange and revelry that takes place each year on April 30.

Talk about tradition: This day of national unity (“samenheid“) goes back to August 1885! Princess Wilhelmina’s birthday was August 31st, so the party was originally held in summer. When Queen Juliana came to the throne, the date was changed to April 30 to mark her birthday, a day of celebration that continues to this day (current Queen Beatrix’s actual birthday falls on January 31).

Queen's day 2010 - Koninginnedag
[Flickr photo credit: Carla & Daniel Duclos]

Queen’s Night (the night before Queen’s Day) is when the party gets underway. Koninginnenacht’s biggest draw are the parties that go deep into the Amsterdam night. We’ve been a couple of times in the past and most of the parties really don’t start until after midnight.

If you’re interested in following along with up-to-the-minute party details, there’s a Queen’s Day app available for both iPhone/iPod Touch and Android users.

The Queen historically visits a couple of Dutch towns each year on Queen’s Day, however she’s yet to make it to our former town of Amersfoort. This year, Queen Beatrix will be visiting Weert and Thorn. In 2009, the Dutch royal family was attacked while visiting Apeldoorn. Not so cool for a day that celebrates unity and peace.

Koninginnedag in Utrecht
[Rescue Brigade on duty in the Utrecht canals! Flickr photo credit: Nepeta]

So what do people do on Queen’s Day? Throw the country’s largest garage sale! Selling outdoors (even on your own property) in Holland is not allowed without a proper permit. I did miss those garage sales when we lived in Holland. Queen’s Day is the one exception, so vrijmarkten (free markets) can be found in every town big and small across the country.

Koninginnedag in Utrecht
[Flickr photo credit: Nepeta]

People collect their former prized possessions and junk and sell it until it’s all gone! Most cities organize it around a large square or park, where locals save a prime selling spot the night before.

Koninginnedag 2011-7

Fast-forward to Vancouver, BC, where we’ve celebrated these past five years with the Dutch Consulate at various venues around town. The country’s finest edibles are brought out (my husband looks forward to his yearly chance to eat fresh herring flown in from the motherland).

Dutch haring


Haring eten
[How to truly enjoy herring]

Bitterballen (Dutch meatballs), Dutch cheese, roggebrood (a type of dark, dense rye bread), and other delights are shared amongst the Dutch community, along with speeches by the Consulate General of The Netherlands.

Koninginnedag 2011-16

Koninginnedag 2011-20


  • Comment by Henry — April 29, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

    Wow, that’s an amazing and colorful story! Hope to get to Holland one year during this time.

  • Comment by Bettina R. — April 29, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

    Food looks scrumptious! Thanks for posting. i had no idea as to what goes on for Queen’s Day in Holland. Time for a trip…

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.