For the first time in three years we’re having a King’s Day. It’s cool, and only a touch weird.
It’s my first King’s Day in The Hague, so I’ve been checking out what to do. There will be parties, a fair, and of course the traditional “free market” where everyone sells their pre-loved items on the street. It’s only free in the sense that you don’t need to pay any VAT or have a licence, you still pay for the goods. A fair bit of haggling goes on, and if you can hold your nerve items get cheaper as the day goes on.
It’s a day when everything is orange, I saw the traditional orange Tompouce in Albert Heijn today, but if you’re feeling adventurous you could make your own in about half an hour.
The fun has already started with some bands playing in various squares around town – thankfully none is too close to me, but the real fun starts tomorrow with the open markets around town, the full list is available online, I’m probably sticking to the central options; Piet Heinstraat, Plein, Noordeinde. And just for the fun of it, I’m not shopping for anything specific.
There are two other options I will try to check out tomorrow, one is a plant market on the Lange Voorhout – more specificially a geranium market (yes, that’s what it really says in Dutch). The other is historic trams from the 1910s which will run between Central Station and the Statenkwartier every 10 minutes (more info – Dutch only). There may be pictures tomorrow.
If you own any orange clothing tomorrow is the day to wear it. I shall be wearing orange sneakers and an orange tiara.
I was mocked when I bought the tiara more than 10 years ago, but I’ve worn it pretty much every year!
I wandered around the neighbourhood, I didn’t sell any of the junk I need to get rid off, but on the upside I did not buy any new junk to take over my house. I did sample some of the food and drink on offer from some of the restaurants along Harlemmerstraat – the Tandoori chicken from Rangoli was good. I saw lots of people wearing lots of orange, utterly unconcerned for the tackiness factor of orange sunglasses in the shape of bicycles.
“The Blaffende Vis”, a cafe on Westerstraat, always puts a big display up on the front of the cafe, usually having a little dig at the royal family. It is after all, in the unruly and traditionally working class Jordaan. This year’s image shows King Willem Alexander changing the name and it is playing on the fact that it’s the first “Koningsdag”, as last year we had a Queen, and therefore a “Koninginnedag”. One great advantage of having a king is that all this stuff got a lot easier to spell.
The canals were packed with boats, all the crews wore orange and some even had orange drinks. I witnessed a couple of “near” accidents as the boats jostled to get around. The usual scenic boats with the glass tops were also running tours and the skippers earnt their money that day – those boats are long and not easy to manoeuver in Amsterdam’s narrow canals at the best of times, it was 10 times more challenging on Saturday in the crowded waters.
Later we went to visit a friend in another part of town, there were parties all over town, and we walked dodging the most dense crowds wherever we could, weaving our way along Herengracht, turning south to avoid the overspill from Rembrandtplein, and dodging parties on many of the intersections and bridges. For a city full of rather drunk people the atmosphere was happy and friendly.
And walking home again after midnight when the parties had mostly ended the atmosphere was still good; pretty sure lots of people had a very very slow Sunday.
This is the first King’s Day ever in the Netherlands. The traditional day was started with Queen Wilhelmina in 1885 and was then celebrated on her birthday in August, and we’ve had Queen’s ever since, until Willem-Alexander came to the throne last year.
He’s moved the celebrations from 30 April (Queen Juliana’s birthday, Queen Beatrix never shifted it ) to his birthday of 27 April; but that would be a Sunday and it’s never celebrated on a Sunday so – get ready for a lot of orange on Saturday 26th. I had to explain all of this to a Dutchman during the weekend, in Dutch, I reckon that’s my inburgeringscursis done.
The day’s events will be much the same – party at night, free market in the morning, orange everywhere. There will be the traditional royal visits, this year to Amstelveen and De Rijp.
Lots of the louder music parties are moved to larger venues such as the Olympic stadium, which is a relief for my neighbourhood although there will still be plenty of noise.
I’ve got a stack of books, and found a whole bunch of stuff I didn’t know I had at the back of my cupboard; I’ll wear my orange tiara and sell off the lot.