Queen's Day Celebrations in Amsterdam
(Now King's Day)
Amsterdammers love a party, and the biggest of the year has been taking place on April 30th, the Queen's official birthday. However, since the abdication of Queen Juliana on April 30th, 2013, and the succession of her son King Willem-Alexander, from 2014 onwards Queen’s Day will become King’s Day and will be celebrated on the new King’s birthday, which is April 27th.
It's a great time to be there, as the weather is often good, which helps as most of the events take place outdoors, in the parks and the streets. The city gets packed, with over a million people out on those streets, including many who come from elsewhere in the Netherlands. If you want to help celebrate, you'll need to book your accommodation a long way in advance. Take something orange to wear too, as everyone likes to sport the national colour. But there are plenty of other events throughout the year, to help you plan your visit:
Carnival and Beyond...
Another good time to go is for Carnival. This is normally sometime in, depending on when Easter falls, and while it might not rival Rio (certainly not as far as the weather goes), there is a buzz about the place and a lot of action on the streets.
National Museum Week is usually the second weekend of April and if you intend to visit the city's great art museums, it's a good time to come. There are reduced admission prices, with some museums being free, and also special events and exhibitions - and not just in Amsterdam but all over the country.
What could be more Dutch than National Windmill Day, usually the second Saturday in May? It's a nationwide event, but Amsterdam still has several working windmills which are opened up and the sails set working. Anywhere else this kind of thing could be a bit corny, but the Dutch never lose their sense of fun so relax and enjoy it all.
Amsterdam Gay Pride
Amsterdam Gay Pride
At the start of August is the Amsterdam Pride celebration. In keeping with its tolerant nature, Amsterdam has always been a gay-friendly city. As a result, the streets are packed and you should expect to see some outrageous outfits. What's special about Amsterdam is the Boat Parade, when the canal boats join in the fun and look just as outrageous as the people on the streets.
Open Monuments Day
Rather more conventional, on the second Saturday in September is usually Open Monuments Day (Open Monumentendag). Lots of the city's historical buildings which are normally closed to the public throw open their doors so you can have a look-see inside, and they're normally free as well.
Christmas and New Year
You know Christmas is on the way when Santa Claus arrives for the Sinterklaas Parade on the third Saturday in November. He arrives at Centraal Station not by sled but on a boat, and then parades through the streets to Dam Square. His black-faced helpers, named Zwarte Piet (Black Peter), throw sweets to the children in the crowds as they go round.
The New Year celebrations on December 31/January 1 are as huge as anywhere in Europe. People have a lot to drink and it can get quite wild, especially as throwing fireworks is a local custom. Be ready to leap out of the way, or leap out of your skin.
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