King's Day & Night
The Night of Orange and King’s Day will exuberantly celebrated, and activities will take place all over Groningen city centre and at numerous locations. On 26th and 27th of April, city centre, Groningen.
Every April, the whole country celebrates the King’s Birthday. The Netherlands turns into one big party, with boats filling the canals, flea market-stands lining the streets, festivals, singing, dancing, drinking and smoking.
All of the Netherlands is painted orange; with food coloring, flags, face-paint and colored hairspray, the people, the food and all of the cities display the so-called ‘oranjegekte’. Originating from the royal family’s house’s (The House of Orange-Nassau) color this orange craze takes over the country and contributed to the Dutch’s feeling of national identity, not necessarily portraying patriotism, but more a sense of belonging and belonging together. This is also one of Kingsday’s qualities; when 17 million people dress up and celebrate together one cannot avoid feeling a part of the madness, regardless of nationality.
While the larger cities host larger events, every town celebrates the holiday - some in more unique ways then others. As Queen Beatrix did during her reign, King Willem-Alexander celebrates his birthday in a different Dutch town every year, partaking in the local festivities.
Something observed nationwide however, is the vrijmarkt – ‘flea market’. This day in the Netherlands is the only day of the year where goods are allowed to be sold without a permit and without having to pay VAT. All year long the Dutch collect items to sell on the street during the vrijmarkt, grown-ups and children alike, whether buying or selling, almost everyone participates in the sales.
As the 27th of April is a holiday, this of course needs to be celebrated and the Dutch often do so by starting the night before – as most don’t have to go to work the next day. The 26th of April is Kingsnight, which is when the celebrations start. With large music events, which are often outdoors in the city centers and free, the Dutch grasp the opportunity of the celebrations as soon as possible.