King’s Day: The World’s Biggest Street Party

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Oh, King’s Day. Where do I even begin?

I first heard about King’s Day (or Koningsdag in Dutch.) two years ago, when I was studying abroad in France. My friends and I had booked a weekend in Amsterdam (none of us had ever been) during our spring break, but when we went to book hostels, most of them were either extremely expensive or already booked, despite us searching months in advance.

It is then that we learned we were going to Amsterdam during King’s Day weekend: Holland’s biggest celebration (also known as the world’s biggest street party) of the year. King’s Day is celebrated in late April, on the King of the Netherland’s birthday. Up to a million tourists join the 750,000 locals for this national holiday.

Basically, on King’s Day, a few things happen:

– Everyone wears orange. Orange is everywhere. People look ridiculous.

– There are mini yard sales everywhere. Everyone is selling stuff for really cheap. Days (maybe even weeks) in advance, people go around with chalk and outline a space to “reserve” on King’s Day as their yard sale space. Leading up to King’s Day, all of Amsterdam was riddled with square chalk outlines.

– A lot of day drinking is happening, and a lot of day drinking on boats is happening.

– Also, lots of musical festivals and street food and hoards of people.

It is a day of ridiculousness, and it is very, very fun. Unfortunately when my friends and I visited a few years ago, we had to leave Sunday night so we missed the big celebration on Monday. But not this year! I experienced it in all of its orange, intoxicated glory this year.

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My friends and I began our King’s Day by eating warm waffles with chocolate ice cream, strawberries, and whipped cream. The breakfast of King’s Day champions. And mimosas, naturally.

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We ventured out around noon and the streets were already flooded with people.

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We took the ferry to Amsterdam Nord first, and pretty much immediately began what would be a delicious and deep-fried day of street food indulgences. First up were these amazing fried fish bites. (And the bourbon lemonade we brought with us.)

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Next we headed to the Jordaan area of Amsterdam, which is in the west, and is one of the more popular places to celebrate. All of the canals were packed with party people.

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These kids made a dance routine to earn money on the sidewalk!

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A lot of people that live in the center seemed to just have parties in their houses, where they could observe the shenanigans below from the comfort of their own skinny, crooked homes.

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Some parts of the canals had so many boats that there were traffic jams.

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Towards the end of the day, after a lot more street food and bourbon lemonade, we ended up at Vondelpark, which is Amsterdam’s largest and most famous park. It was packed, as it always is on nice days.

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We headed back to my friend Holly’s apartment around 6pm, because one of our friends had a flight to catch back to Copenhagen. But the street parties were still in full swing.

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After walking around all day and hitting pretty much every corner of Amsterdam, we ended King’s Day in the most appropriate way: with XXL pizzas and Cinnasticks (and for me, a substantial amount of insulin.)

I wouldn’t have had it any other way.