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Dutch sailing in orange attire through the Dutch canals.
Source: Paula Abrahao / Flickr
King's Day: party in orange
Published at: 4/15/2024, 12:00 AM

The Netherlands celebrates King Willem-Alexander's birthday every year on 27 April. This national holiday is called King's Day. Most people are off work on this day. Below you can read how the Netherlands celebrates King's Day.

The role of the king in the Netherlands

On King's Day, the Netherlands celebrates the birthday of King Willem-Alexander. King's Day is therefore not a political day but a public holiday. The king is the head of state of the Netherlands and is part of the government. But in practice, the king has little political influence and his duties are generally mainly symbolic and festive.

The Netherlands now has a king, but has had queens before. The role and duties of a king or queen in the Netherlands are the same. The political duties a king or queen of the Netherlands has are:

  • The king or queen signs all laws, royal decrees and international treaties.

  • Every year, the king or queen delivers the speech from the throne on Prince's Day, setting out the government's plans for the next year. Prince's Day is on the 3rd Tuesday in September every year.

  • The king or queen meets with the prime minister every week and regularly speaks with ministers and secretaries of state. This keeps the king or queen informed about the government's policies.

  • The king or queen appoints ministers and secretaries of state.

  • The king or queen represents the Netherlands at home and abroad.

The king or queen's other duties include opening new buildings, making speeches during important moments of the Netherlands and celebrating King's or Queen's Day.

There is a party the night before King's Day

The night before King's Day is known as King's Night. Many people in the Netherlands go to the pub or a bar. Some pubs arrange a special programme with performances by DJs or artists. This year, King's Night is on Friday evening, 26 April 2024.

The royal family visits the city of Emmen on King's Day

Every year King Willem-Alexander visits a city or village in the Netherlands during King's Day. He does this with his wife, Queen Máxima, their daughters Amalia, Alexia and Ariane and other family members. This year they will go to the city of Emmen in the province of Drenthe on Saturday, 27 April 2024.

Residents of Emmen welcome the royal family in a festive way. They show beautiful parts of the city, sing for the king and organise traditional Dutch games.

Click here for an additional explanation
will broadcast this visit on television on NPO1.

Celebrate King's Day in your hometown too

All over the Netherlands, people celebrate King's Day. Games and concerts are organised in most villages and cities. Many people wear orange clothes because orange is the colour of the Dutch royal family. People also paint Dutch flags on their faces.

In almost every town or larger village, people sell their old things on the streets during King's Day. This is a tradition. Many people lay down a rug on which they sell old toys, old furniture or, for example, CDs or books. This is called a free market. Want to sell things yourself or look for things at the free market? Find out where the free market is in your community. And how long in advance you may reserve a spot on the pavement to sell things.

Stores and public transportation have different hours

There are a few more things to consider on King's Day:

  • Most people are off work, but not everyone. Ask your employer if you are free.

  • Different travel times may apply on public transportation.

  • There may be different store opening hours.

There are rules about selling alcohol and drinking on the street

On King's Day, many people drink alcohol in public. This is not officially allowed everywhere. You can be fined by the police if you drink anywhere that is not allowed.

In some municipalities, supermarkets must follow strict sales rules for alcohol. Then, for example, they are only allowed to sell one can of beer or bottle of wine per person.

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