If you Google “King’s Day, Amsterdam” you will learn a lot, likely see hundreds of crazy photos, and stupid but amusing videos. If you ask around town you’ll hear many stories about the occasion, several warnings and vague accounts of memories from years past. NONE of these, however, do the actual experience justice. And if anyone tries to convince you otherwise, they are lying.
What’s more amazing to me as an American though, beyond the open air urinals, volume of party boats, and families turning living windows into beer distribution outlets, is that the entire country is smiling as they dedicate a whole day to celebrating the leader of their land – a leader that inherited the title, not one that was even elected by its people. We could never have such a holiday in the U.S. because while half the country would be celebrating, the other half would probably be trying to stomp on their parties, and/or rioting about how much they despise the leader being honored. Needless to say, the recent events in the U.S. news have made me extremely grateful to be living in a place where I feel safe and observe people generally taking care of each other- drunk or not.
Politics aside, Sean and I eased into our first King’s Day not entirely sure what to expect and a wee bit tired from hosting Sean’s family for the 4 weekends prior. We enjoyed ourselves this year, but now have lots of plans and ideas to amp up our showing in 2016. Allow me to recap the highlights…
King’s night is when it all begins. From about 8pm onwards on King’s Day eve, locals and visitors take to the streets with many concerts, food & booze stands and social gatherings unfolding around them. We started the evening at a colleague’s house party in the Jordaan and after a couple hours proceeded to Prinsengracht to enjoy the public festivities. While at the house party, I received a text from a friend I had met during my time in the UK and we arranged a spontaneous meet up on the canals to enjoy King’s night together- great surprise! Since we first moved here, we’ve been told that King’s Day is all about orange (in honor of the Royal Family’s last name), so we of course decked out head to toe in orange. Only we didn’t realize that the orange doesn’t REALLY come out from the locals until the actual King’s Day. Needless to say, we stood out as a bit touristy, but who’s going to remember anything the next morning anyways, right?
After listening to a few bands, eating late night food truck wieners and getting our fill of booze, we biked home with only 1 near fatality. Sean was heading right into someone’s below ground cellar and had to bail off his bike just in time. By noon the next day I was able to get him to forget about the incident and about the snickering of drunk locals that seemed to bother him more than the scrapes. After all with this type of scene, no one really cares about much except loud music, cold beers and orange overload:
Luckily one of the few couples we get along with really well here have an apartment right overlooking the Prinsengracht where many of the main King’s Day festivities were taking place. We enjoyed catching up with a few friends, munching on appetizers and mixing cocktails in ridiculous garb. However, my favorite part was the bird’s eye view we had to people watch- one of my all time favorite past times. Allow me to share some of my favorites:
Rearview Mirror Ears
The Six-pack Siren
I was not fast enough to capture Mr. Propane tank toss on camera but suffice to say that the crowd self-regulated this one, some scooter owner is missing a tail light and I can only hope his friends gave him a 1-way ticket to bed.
We closed down our first king’s day with Belgian beers and multiple rounds of bitterballen at our favorite local bar with a couple recently met friends of ours. Naturally, neither Sean nor I had the MOST productive day at work the following day (King’s Day – 1, Colella’s – 0). We’re coming back for revenge next year! Until then, we’ll be stocking our wardrobes with lots of orange attire and looking into King’s Day 2016 boat rentals starting like… tomorrow.