April 2011. Some say you haven’t truly experienced Amsterdam until you’ve seen it in the incredible carnival mode of Queen’s/King’s Day. Right enough, the entire city is transformed beyond recognition every April as hordes of patriotic Nederlanders take to the streets, pubs and canals to celebrate the life and times of their glorious monarch.
April 2011. Being a hugely antisocial bastard, I kept my distance from Queen’s Day for the majority of my Amsterdam years. Don’t get me wrong, as a visual spectacle it’s nothing short of phenomenal, the roads and canalways awash with a sea of orange, merrymaking partygoers. But at the end of the day being right in the heart of the action was just a familiarly depressing mix of vomiting people, ear-splitting techno music and insultingly overpriced refreshments.
April 2011. In 2011 I used the Queen’s Day festivities to camp out in my apartment with an old friend of mine whom I was writing a screenplay with. The project, a comedy drama called Red Light, was also set in Amsterdam, so after hours of scriptwriting we decided to take a break and soak up the city vibe for a bit of inspiration. As a people-watching experiment it really did the trick, helping us to flesh out a few key characters.
April 2012. In 2012 my girl finally twisted my arm and talked me into celebrating Queen’s day on a private boat cruise with friends. While I certainly have no regrets it was a pretty crazy day, with several people falling into the water and sections of the canal completely gridlocked with back-to back boats. But it was also a great way to see the city and admire that amazing, unique Amsterdam architecture.
April 2012. These days Queen’s Day is celebrated as King’s day, following the abdication of Queen Beatrix in 2013. So now it’s all about Willem-Alexander, the first king since the national holiday began in 1890. But from what I’ve seen the shtick is much the same. So if a day of relentless, unadulterated partying is your thing you’ll no doubt love it. Just grab a beer from that bucket of Heineken, sample some local herring (if you can stomach it), put on a silly orange wig and do the day Dutch style.
For more on life in the Dutch capital, have a look through my other reports on Amsterdam.
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