Koningsdag in Amsterdam: Celebrations Fit for a King

By Sarah Warren, Program Advisor

The city of Amsterdam has a lot to offer to ISA students during their term studying abroad, but those who choose to go during the spring term will experience an extra special treat: Koningsdag or King’s Day.  

Held on April 27th, this is a country-wide celebration of King Willem-Alexander’s birthday. Before his ascension to the throne in 2013, King’s Day (Koningsdag) was known as Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag). Back then, it was celebrated on Queen Beatrix’s birthday. When she abdicated the throne in 2013, the date of celebration switched over from April 30th to April 27th, the new King’s birthday.

Because the royal family of the Netherlands is a part of the House of Orange-Nassau, people in Amsterdam and all over the country dress up head-to-toe in the color orange to celebrate their King. This is called oranjegekte, or “orange madness,” and it’s easy to see why when waves of orange take over the city of Amsterdam in a matter of hours. Streets become crowded early, overflowing with people ready to participate in the festivities and show pride for their country.

King's Day in Amsterdam

Not only do the streets fill up, but boats also fill the famous canals of Amsterdam! The city can feel packed to the brim, but it only adds to the excitement you’ll feel as you get a glimpse of how the Dutch celebrate. There are city-wide markets (vrijmarkt), street DJs, and so much more to explore as you wander through the compact inner part of Amsterdam.  

People celebrating in the canals of Amsterdam on King's Day.

Though most of the city activities wind down in the evening, the celebration continues: private parties and Amsterdam’s nightlife continue well past the official birthday bash for the King has finished up. If you’re looking to study abroad in Amsterdam in the spring, be sure to check out the biggest Dutch event of the season!  

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Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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