To get a true feeling of Dutch culture, you need to experience Kingsday (Koningsdag). This holiday is celebrated on the birthday of the Dutch King, April 27th. For many Dutch people, Kingsday is one of their favorite holidays because it has a lot to do with Dutch pride (well that, and drinking). Simply, this day embodies what it means to be Dutch, and as an international, you should join the celebrations at least once. Since it is a national holiday, almost all offices, universities, and stores are closed. But don't worry, there's plenty to do on Kingsday.
Kingsday Flea Market
You can't miss the nation-wide flea market on Kingsday. On this day, people all over the country participate in selling any household or self-made items in big plazas in the city center, or just outside their home. This is a great way to snag cheap second-hand furniture for your room or find some cool authentic Dutch items. If you're not looking to buy anything, it's also fun to just walk through a market and talk with some local Dutch people. They're all in high spirits on Kingsday.
If a flea market doesn't speak to you, a festival is highly recommendable. Dutch people can party hard, and that's especially true on Kingsday. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Utrecht have some of the biggest and best Kingsday festivals. Check out Kingsland or Oranjebloesem, just to name a few. Some of the world's best DJs and most popular Dutch artists come perform at these festivals. If you do want to attend a festival, however, make sure you purchase your tickets on time; they sell fast! The Netherlands is luckily a relatively small country, so a short train ride is all it takes to get from one place to another.
Kingsnight (Kongingsnacht) is the evening of April 27th. Head to a nightclub party on Kongingsnacht if you're not already too exhausted from the day's activities. Again, many of the best are in Amsterdam.
A Day in Amsterdam
If festivals aren't your thing either, or you simply can't afford a ticket, don't worry. Simply walking the streets of Amsterdam on Kingsday is a wonder in itself. Boats full of people dressed head-to-toe in orange will pass by all day, and the streets themselves become one big party. Head over there with a group of friends and kick back on a bar terrace to watch the party unfold before your eyes. Buy yourself a nice cold local Dutch beer, and some typical Dutch bitterballen and poffertjes.
If you're really looking to go all-out, rent a boat with a group and tour the canals of Amsterdam yourself. Although it is a bit pricey, it is an unforgettable experience.
No matter what you end up deciding to do on Kingsday, wear orange. You'll fit in anywhere you go and feel like a local on a day where feeling like a local will help you make the best of your experience. Immerse yourself in the local activities so you can delve into the festive atmosphere.