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Queen's Day in Amsterdam: Traditions of the City's Biggest Party

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Party Capital:

While people all over the Netherlands celebrate Queen's Day, Amsterdam is certainly home to the biggest collection of parties and events on April 30. And with hundreds of thousands of visitors flocking to the Dutch capital to take part, the city turns into a boundless sea of orange revelry.

But besides crowds, what else should a visitor expect to see and do on Koninginnedag? Have a look at these Queen's Day traditions in Amsterdam to find out.

Outdoor Concerts & Parties:

The full list of goings on in Amsterdam on Queen's Day (and Queen's Night, the night before) is too long to include here. You can be sure to come across outdoor parties with bands and DJs on several squares and in parks throughout the city.

Every year, the biggest outdoor concerts are held on Museumplein and Rembrandtplein, sponsored by local radio stations.

For a list of Queen's Day after-parties, check out these various Amsterdam bars and clubs.

Orange Orange Everywhere:

If you've seen pictures from Queen's Day in Amsterdam, you've surely noticed the predominance (to say the least) of the color orange. People don orange clothes, hats, wigs, capes, feather boas, face or body paint (some even opt for more paint than clothing) -- you name it, it's been done. Orange balloons bounce in the air; orange flags fly atop boat masts; shop windows blind passers-by with orange-themed displays; some fountains spray orange-dyed water. Got the picture?
But what's the significance of this widespread orange obsession? See "The Dutch and the Color Orange" to find out. And by all means, if you're in Amsterdam for Queen's Day, wear orange!

Free Market Day:

Many Amsterdam visitors hear about the rowdy atmosphere of Queen's Day and assume the biggest characteristic of the holiday is the all-day street party. And while I'd be lying if I said those assumptions are false, Queen's Day is probably more well-known (especially to the Dutch) as the one day of the year when rummage sales are allowed. So, the streets and sidewalks play a much bigger role than host to drunken celebrators -- they evolve into one big vrijmarkt ("free market").
The Dutch take this opportunity to rid their homes of useless (but potentially profitable) junk and old clothes so seriously that the city of Amsterdam actually had to create a law to forbid the cutthroat sidewalk place-holding that goes on days and weeks before the street markets begin.

The rampant capitalism is among the most creative I've seen, with many Queen's Day entrepreneurs selling services and experiences like bad advice or a few minutes of "royal chilling."

Family Fun in the Vondelpark:

Queen's Day isn't just for adults. In Amsterdam, families head for the Vondelpark for activities more suitable for younger children. You'll find face-painting, games, theatrical performances and plenty of food vendors to tempt tiny taste buds.

Perhaps most impressive are the wide range of talents and creative capitalist efforts that young Amsterdammers exploit to take part in this free-market day. All throughout the Vondelpark, children are proud to show off their lemonade stands, homemade puppet theaters or musical performances, and it's truly endearing to see them smile at the clinking sound of a euro!

Queen's Night:

In the past several years, the popularity of Queen's Night, or Koninginnenacht, has risen considerably. The Jordaan neighborhood is especially popular on the night of April 29. Check out this list of Queen's Night parties for bars and clubs hosting events. But be sure to save up enough energy to celebrate the true holiday on April 30!
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