I’ve been looking forward to Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) here in Holland for a while now and originally the plan was of course to go to Amsterdam. Over the last few months we’ve been rethinking that idea because apparently being in Amsterdam on Queen’s Day is actually a real nightmare.
I had one Dutch girl tell me she would never go again and another tell me that she was stuck on the train for 4 hours (you should be able to get to Paris in 4 hours!). It’s also an easy way to bring on a self induced panic attack, fall in a canal and get run over by a party boat full of weird orange people drinking Heineken. Just kidding, it would have been an experience for sure and in one way (and especially on a travel blogger level) I’m disappointed that I missed it, but in another I’m a bit relieved.
The decision came about because we LIVE in Rotterdam as expats at the moment and we’re not on the road staying in a hostel in Amsterdam. We figured why not be in the city we love and live in with our Dutch friends for the orange explosion that is Queen’s Day.
Another point is the fact that I had to work that day and finished at 4pm (working is a necessary evil at the moment so I can continue to fund more backpacking adventures) so being able to get straight to the party action was important for me. Anyway, enough of my lame “I didn’t go to Amsterdam excuses” – I was in Rotterdam and it ROCKED!
You could easily liken Queen’s Day to Australia Day back home. It’s a celebration of The Netherlands and specifically of the royal family – it’s also an excuse to wear Orange and to get outside and party.
All around Holland, in cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam the streets become a baffling maze of market’s – traditionally it was a day where everyone could setup a stall without a license or paying a fee and sell things. It still seems to hold true to this day, and Rotterdam was overflowing with people selling all sorts of knick knacks.
Leading up to Queen’s Day, the weather is a hot topic of conversation. Will it be a warm day? Is it going to rain? Lucky for us this Queen’s Day was supposed to be a warm day of 20 degrees (which feels warm even to us after months of 5 – 10 degree weather) – and the day did not disappoint!
It was definitely the best day of the year so far, it seems even the sun knows it’s Queen’s Day!
It’s easy to point out that the Dutch flag is in fact red, white and blue. So what is with this obsession with the colour orange? Well it’s more like the colour of the royal family, and wearing Orange is a celebration of the royal family and the dynasty they originated from – the Oranje-Nassau family. This dynasty heralds back to the days of the mighty Willem van Oranje. There you go, a bit of relatively useless trivia for you and a sexy picture of Willem to boot!
Oranjebitter has been growing more popular and bigger every year as a Queen’s Day festival in Rotterdam. As soon as we heard the weather was going to be good, we headed to the funky cafe downstairs and purchased a pair of Oranjebitter wristbands (they were Orange). Norwegian band sensation KAKKMADDAFAKKA (I like to pronounce it like David Duchovny in Californication when he says a swear word that’s resoundingly similar).
I finished work, jumped on my bicycle and headed straight down to the action – the festival was like a fenced off area filled with Dutch hipsters, Orange and good vibes… beer time!
I pieced together yet another dodgy video (I’m still on Windows Live Movie Maker guys – amazing, right?) – but it should give you a bit of a feeling of what the festival was like!
Those backup dancers in the band were hilarious, and KAKKMADDAFAKKA were a great band (in fact I’m listening to them right now) that put on an excellent and rocking live set.
My favourite photo from the night has got to be this one though:
Even though I was filled with moustache envy my clean shaven baby face and I still managed to enjoy ourselves.
Honestly though, if you do ever find yourself near The Netherlands on the 30th of April then you should definitely come and visit for the celebrations! Whether you’re in Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Eindhoven – it’s the perfect excuse to get out that ugly orange jumper that your grandma gave you for Christmas and show it the best time its ever had.