Koninginnedag: Wikis


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Dancing people dressed in orange on the canals of Amsterdam during Queen's Day in 2007
Observed by Kingdom of the Netherlands
Type National holiday
Date 30 April
Celebrations Children's games, flea market, music concerts
Related to Birthday of Queen Juliana

Koninginnedag (About this sound pronunciation ) or Queen's Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba on 30 April or on 29 April if the 30th is a Sunday. Queen's Day celebrates the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands and is supposed to be a day of national unity and "togetherness" (Dutch: saamhorigheid). The tradition started on 31 August 1885, on the birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, later Queen Wilhelmina. Since 1949, after the ascension of Queen Juliana, Queen's Day is Queen Juliana's birthday on 30 April. Although Queen Beatrix's birthday is on 31 January, she officially celebrates her birthday on 30 April.

Queen's Day is known for its "freemarket" (Dutch: vrijmarkt) all over the country, where everybody is allowed to sell things in the streets. Other activities during Queen's Day are children's games, individual musical performances, and music concerts. The night before Queen's Day is celebrated too in some cities, and this is called Queen's Night (Dutch: Koninginnenacht). The largest celebration of Queen's Day is in Amsterdam, Queen's Night in The Hague and Queen's Dance (Dutch: Koninginnedans) in Rotterdam. During the celebrations as reference to the colours of the House of Orange-Nassau, people dress in the colour orange, which is sometimes called "orange craze" (Dutch: oranjegekte).



Queen Wilhelmina's birthday celebrations were the first Queen's Days in the Netherlands

The present-day celebration of Queen's Day was originally intended by the Liberal Union to be a day of national unity in the Netherlands. It started with the celebration of the birthday of Princess Wilhelmina on 31 August 1885. From 1885 to 1890 the celebration was therefore called Prinsessedag or Princess' Day, until the Coronation of Wilhelmina in 1890. Since 31 August 1891, the celebration was called Koninginnedag or Queen's Day. The day was not only the birthday of the Queen, but also the last day of the summer vacation, which made the celebrations popular with children. Unlike her successors, Queen Wilhelmina almost never attended festivities on Queen's Day.[1][2]

In September 1948 Queen Juliana ascended to the Dutch throne and from 1949 onwards Queen's Day was on her birthday on 30 April. When 30 April is a Sunday, Queen's Day is celebrated on 29 April.[3] On this day, Queen Juliana received a flower tribute at Soestdijk Palace, where she lived.[1] The Queen and her family would stand on a dais and a long line of citizens would walk past, congratulating her and presenting her gifts and flowers.[citation needed] The parade was broadcast on national television from the 1950s. When more and more people received a day off from their work, Queen's Day became a national holiday of togetherness (Dutch: saamhorigheid).[1]

Queen Beatrix speaks with the mayor of The Hague Wim Deetman in Scheveningen during Queen's Day in 2005

When Queen Beatrix succeeded her mother Queen Juliana on 30 April 1980, she decided to keep the holiday on 30 April as a tribute to her mother.[1] Furthermore for practical reasons, the weather on her own birthday in the winter on 31 January tends to prohibit the traditional outdoor festivities, while 30 April is renowned for having much better weather. In contrast to her mother, Juliana, Beatrix decided to go into the country to meet the people, rather than receiving people at her residence. Since her ascension to the throne, Queen Beatrix and her family visit one, two, or sometimes three places on Queen's day,[4] where she is shown regional versions of traditional Dutch dances and demonstrations of old crafts. In 2001, the Queen's Day visits of the Royal Family were canceled as there was worry about maintaining the quarantine measures to control an ongoing outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.[5] Queen Beatrix has visited the following cities over the years on Queen's Day:[4]




People dressed in orange in Amsterdam during Queen's Day in 2007

This is a typical occasion for oranjegekte (orange craze), when the colour orange is a ubiquitous sight, referring to the name of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange. There are orange banners, orange colored foods and drinks, and extreme amounts of orange clothing and creative accessories are worn as well. Sometimes even the water in fountains is dyed orange. It is not uncommon for people to impersonate the queen, not always in a flattering manner.

Of course there are also people who are dressed in the national colours Red, white and blue.


Freemarket in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam

The so-called 'vrijmarkt' ('freemarket') is similar to a nationwide car boot sale or flea market. Owing to a holiday dispensation from the Dutch government, people do not need to pay taxes on their sales. Many people set up stalls or blankets in parks, on sidewalks and even on the roads themselves (cars are banned on some streets). The items sold are traditionally secondhand discards, but for commercial traders this is also an extremely profitable day. ING bank has estimated the size of the trade in 2007 at about 200 million euros, with the approximately 1.8 million sellers making 111 euros each, on average. The freemarket in Amsterdam attracts the most visitors.

The sign says 'overthrow the royal house', referring to the pictures of the royal family on the pile of boxes one can throw balls at

Typically, many children sell their cast-off toys and clothes while entrepreneurs sell food, beverages and a wide range of items. Prices tend to be negotiable and drop as the day progresses. By the end of the festivities, much of the unsold merchandise is left on the streets to be picked over until it is removed by local municipalities shortly after. In Amsterdam, the main streets in the city centre are increasingly being taken over by commercial traders, pushing the intended car boot sales out towards smaller streets and the centre's outer ring.

There are, however, some areas where the original style is preserved. One of these is the Jordaan, a gentrified former working class neighbourhood, where prices are very low because the sale is second to spending a pleasant day and a friendly chat with complete strangers. Sections of the Jordaan can become so full of pedestrian traffic that they become completely gridlocked, despite the absence of cars. Another is the Vondelpark, which is officially reserved for children. Especially there, but also elsewhere, there are many other activities besides the selling of secondhand goods, such as the performing of music or other entertainment for money.

Utrecht has a unique "vrijmarkt"; at 18:00 on the evening before "Koninginnedag" the sales booths are set up in the streets and operate throughout the night and the next day. It is the only city that has a 24-hour "vrijmarkt". The entire central area is car-free and packed with people.

Open air concerts

In recent years, Koninginnedag has become more and more of an open-air party, with many concerts and special events in public spaces, particularly in Amsterdam, which attracts anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 visitors. Many Dutch people living abroad try to make the pilgrimage home (with many 'clued-up' tourists) to experience this holiday each year. Booking accommodations in Amsterdam and elsewhere for Queen's Day is notoriously difficult, requiring booking 6 months or more ahead.

Queen's Night

A concert of the Dutch band Leaf in The Hague during Queen's Night in 2008

During the preceding 'koninginnenacht' (Queen's Night) many bars and clubs throughout the Netherlands (particularly in Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague) hold special events catering to revelers that last all night long. This tradition started in the early nineties when pre-Koninginnedag riots were an increasing problem in The Hague. The idea of convincing the rioters that a celebration is a much better way to spend 'Koninginnenach' (without the 't', as it's pronounced locally), proved successful. The event draws tens of thousands of visitors every year.

2009 Apeldoorn car attack

On April 30, 2009, around 11:50 in the morning, just before the bus with the royal family made its last turn towards the palace of Het Loo in Apeldoorn, a black older model Suzuki Swift driven by Karst Tates, crashed through the crowd and slammed into a monument, reportedly just missing the open-topped bus carrying the royal family.[6] Seven people were reported dead, four suffered major injuries, and five people were slightly wounded. Tates died in hospital that night. On May 8, 2009, an eighth person died of her injuries.[7]


External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Dutch Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia nl


koningin +‎ dag



Koninginnedag in Amsterdam, 2005.
Queen's Day in Amsterdam, 2005.

Koninginnedag m. (plural Koninginnedagen)

  1. "Queen's Day", a Netherlandish holiday occurring on April 30th (or April 29th, if it would otherwise fall on a Sunday) which is an official celebration of the Queen's birthday, even though Queen Beatrix's birthday falls on January 31st.

See also


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