The celebration of her Majesty Queen Beatrice’s birthday is a big event in Amsterdam. The whole city dresses up in orange, the national colour. The city becomes one massive street party. There’s music everywhere, there’s food everywhere, and there’s beer everywhere. And then there’s the market; the whole city turns into a flea market. People reserve themselves a piece of pavement days beforehand by chalking the area off and scribbling their name in it. People get up early to claim their spot and display their wares; anything goes, anything is for sale. There are usually a few concerts going on in the inner city as well. Actually, the concerts begin the night before, and their usual locations are Museumplein, Dam square and the Nieuwmarkt.
The date on which all this revelry occurs is the 30th of April, is that the Queens birthday? No, that is the date her mother, Queen Juliana, was born; Beatrice celebrates her’s on the 19th of January. The royal family also has to pack out on Queensday; every available member is mustered and required to join her majesty on a day-long visit to usually two different towns not too far apart. The junior members (the princes and their wives) are expected to join in the celebrations, taking part in various, mostly local traditional events. Now all this wouldn’t be nearly as much fun in January; the last day of April is the far more suitable date for all these outdoor activities. The Queen decided on the day of her coronation that the day her birthday was to be celebrated would remain the same. The 30th of April when the weather is usually benign.
The first free market
Queen Juliana ascended the throne and succeeded her mother, Queen Wilhelmina, in September 1948. The following year the first free market took place; free refers to everyone being free to buy or sell on almost every street of The Netherlands. It’s not only Amsterdam that celebrates; the rest of the country also parties. The biggest crowd, however, always gathers in the capital, Amsterdam. 800.000 people visited the city on Queensday last year. The national railway has asked Amsterdam to cut the festivities short by an hour as it would give them more time to carry everyone home again. Driving within the city on Queensday is not recommended.
As we already mentioned, the party starts the evening before with one or more concerts being held on one or more of Amsterdam’s squares. The concerts are free and popular with the city’s youth. The free market, however, won’t start until the next morning.
On average, the city host’s about 500.000 visitors a year on Queensday, with the highest number ever recorded is one million. It all has to do with the weather; the hotter it is, the more come, the worse the weather, the fewer show up.
Quite a few foreigners will use Queesnday as an excuse to visit the city, and it’s a festival that doesn’t have too many equals in Europe. The only sad thing about it is that it ends too early, and with this year coming up even earlier. On that note, I will close and leave you. This year Queensday in Amsterdam closes at 8 pm local time. The pubs will not work on course.
As the following Queensday approaches, we will issue more specific information.