Invading Holland: The Koningsdag Guide
Englishman, cartoonist and blogger Stuart prepares you for Queen's Day – now King's Day – in the Netherlands.
Koninginnedag (Queen's Day) – now Koningsdag (King's Day) – is the day when the whole of Holland celebrates the birthday of the Dutch queen mother (now the Dutch king) by getting blind drunk before 11am, dancing in the streets and being as crazy as they can be. This is further proof that even the queen mother dislikes Dutch circle parties and will do anything to make sure her party is a lively one.
Everyone goes orange crazy (the 'oranje gekte' starts) to show their support for the Dutch family (The House of Orange). There are orange banners and decorations, orange-coloured drinks and foods, orange-dyed hair and lots and lots of orange clothes and crazy accessories. This makes it a particularly depressing day for anyone with orange colour blindness. Most of the time they probably don't even know what is going on and just think it is a bit busy for some reason.
The streets become packed with people celebrating. Moving through cities such as Amsterdam in large groups becomes an impossible task. The current of the crowd is too strong and before you know it part of your group is washed up on Dam square, while the other half is being dragged towards Museum Plein at a speed of 12 knots.
No matter how hard you try not to, you will end up wearing beer, even if you are not drinking it yourself. It's a side effect of inebriated people trying to carry more beer than they have fingers.
Underage drinkers will attempt to join in on the festivities by concealing the alcoholic drink of their choice in innocent-looking fizzy pop drinks bottles. To them, this is the height of deception and completely undetectable by even the greatest of minds. To the rest of us, it is extremely obvious due to their loud giggling, singing, constant fighting over the contents of the bottle, and the fact that Dr Pepper has suddenly become strangely fluorescent blue in colour.
Because of the vrijmarkt (free market) on Koninginnedag/Koningsdag the Dutch can and will gather all their unwanted belongs from their house, take them outside, dump them on the street and proceed in a desperate fashion to sell them for a few coins to any passers by using any means necessary. Crack addicts trying to score money for drugs have more subtlety and dignity.
Among the items usually available in the vrijmarkt, it is still possible to find things such as 80s aerobic workout VHS cassettes, top of the pops music cassette tapes, 2D game floppy disks and other discontinued entertainment media formats. It's entirely possible that these items have been changing owners every Queen's Day since 1985.
Dutch parents will force their children to sing, dance, juggle, mime, play musical instruments, recite poetry, reenact Shakespeare or simply stand on their head for money in a way that has been outlawed by most third world countries.
Vondelpark in Amsterdam becomes a children's market (a place where children sell their unwanted toys, not where parents sell their unwanted children). This makes it possible for parents to see all the money they spent on toys for the last 10 Sinterklaas pakjesavond get traded in for Pokemon cards.
Selling toys at the children's market is a defining moment in every child's life. It displays something of the kind of adult they will grow up to be. Will they be honest and generous, or will they try to sell those free McDonald's Happy Meal toys for 50 cents each?
By 7pm the streets are empty once again because everyone is far too drunk to do anything. Crushed plastic beer glasses and unsold junk is all that remain, like some kind of bizarre post-apocalypse movie scene (possibly one about the zombie apocalypse at Glastonbury).
Reprinted with permission of Invading Holland.
The man behind the blog Invading Holland is an Englishman called Stuart. He is in his early 30s with a well documented reputation for accident proneness and bizarre situation-finding. Published 2012, updated 2016. Photo credit: Garry Knight (Queen's Day).
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