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What Is Queen's Day?

The Story Behind the Biggest Holiday in the Netherlands

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On April 30, the Dutch celebrate Koninginnedag ("Queen's Day"), a national holiday to commemorate the birthday of the country's (former) Queen. It is by far the most widely celebrated holiday in the Netherlands. Amsterdam festivities in particular rival those of Mardi Gras in New Orleans or New Year's Eve in New York City. As such, Amsterdam is packed to the gills on April 30, welcoming up to two million party-going visitors.

History of Queen's Day

The Dutch have been observing Queen's Day on April 30 since 1949, when the new Queen Juliana ascended the throne. Before then, the holiday fell on August 31, the birthday of Juliana's mother, former Queen Wilhelmina.

When the current Queen Beatrix succeeded Juliana in 1980, she chose to keep Queen's Day on April 30, as Beatrix's own birthday is January 31, a date when Dutch weather isn't conducive to the many outdoor activities associated with the holiday.

Every year Queen Beatrix visits one or two Dutch towns to greet her country's people and visitors, who receive her with fitting celebrations. What began as a commemoration of the Dutch Royal Family has evolved into a nationwide day of creative, carefree springtime revelry.

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