The Story of Konninginnedag 2013

Adam Strobejko, Honoka Aoki and Larissa Muller recount this year’s Queens Day, comparing Amsterdam and Maastricht


(photo Honoka Aoki)

What the hell has just happened? Why did the world turn orange? These are the questions you may be facing after this, supposedly, exhausting week. Queen’s Day is a traditional Dutch celebration and a national holiday that took place on the 30th of April, being the birthday of Queen Beatrix’s predecessor, Queen Juliana. And well, it was a good reason to go out, engage in social activities, sing, dance and intoxicate yourself. Preferably, all of at once.

However, this year’s event was something special. With the abdication of Queen Beatrix we saw the ascension to the throne of King Willem Alexander. It means that from now on, Queen’s Day will become King’s Day taking place on 27 April and numerous people will have to adjust their drinking schedule. Hereby we present you with the reports on the parting of the queen and the following succession celebration held in the capital and in Maastricht.

amsmarket(photo Honoka Aoki)

Queen’s Day in Amsterdam by Honoka Aoki

Dam Square—the place where King Willem-Alexander with his wife accompanied Queen Beatrix and greeted the citizens from the Royal Palace balcony. The square was packed with (literally) orange people, which made it impossible for us to walk any further. Being squashed, pushed back and forth, I immediately thought of a morning-rush-hour train back home in Tokyo.

When the three made their appearance on the balcony, slightly behind the schedule, long awaited crowds cheerfully welcomed them.

Along the numerous canals in down town, were stalls with all kinds of second-hand clothes to bake sales,  and where local Hollanders showed their great creativity in “vrijmarkt”. Kids playing band in a garage, girls singing their hearts out at home-made karaoke stage, a guy with strategic sales talk persuading audience to dare him an “orange” challenge with a bet, were just some of the things I witnessed.

Located just across from the recently reopened national museum, Museum Plein  was also a place to be on the Queen’s day. Here, you could enjoy free concerts and live streaming of official ceremonies in a huge park all day long. Music performances varied from folk songs, to good-old classic rock, to electro dance music. Being far from what I had expected from “orange madness”, it was almost odd to see the most relaxed festival atmosphere where young and old, Dutch and non-Dutch, were dancing and singing together. Sitting on lawns and having beers while sun bathing – a pleasant experience!

But the highlight of the day had yet to come. We were heading back to the main station rather early in the evening (we wanted to avoid crowded trains). Followed by two politie motorbikes, a black limousine with the flag in the front arrived…that’s him! Indeed, King Willem-Alexander was in the car, smiling in his most calm and friendly manner. We spotted him and, what an honour, he waved at us! Needless to say, this made us more than happy to leave the exciting capital to our small, bor… oops, Maastricht.

(photo Vincent Jannik)

Queen’s Day in Maastricht by Larissa Jules

In comparison with Amsterdam, where the queen actually celebrated her birthday, Maastricht was quite calm. However, even the little cozy city of ours turned orange on the 30th of April. Clothes, flags and faces: orange was everywhere!

Some of the parties were located on the river, other hidden in tiny spots in between the alleys, and the majority celebrated directly on Vrijthof. Flea markets, full with kids selling their old toys, form another part of the tradition. This took place in Maastricht’s park, accompanied by music and live performances.

While the traditional marching bands conquer the streets, most groups still enjoy the last shafts of sunlight and decide for the next stop to have a drink. Different music from all parts of the city is booming through the alleys. It turns out that the word “celebrating” really stands for “getting drunk” throughout most of the day. Having this in mind, the actual purpose of the event, being  the Queen’s birthday celebration, seems questionable when witnessing the actual appearance of most of the people barging through the streets.

A recognizable phenomenon of the day is also that the age of the participants varies widely. Dutch people get together, celebrate and get drunk: young or old – what matters is the colour organse. Surprisingly, even the elderly are quite talented in handling embarrassing drunk moments, such as almost bumping into the marching band or taking the orange decoration like flags down with them while searching for something to hold on to.

The Queens Day this year ended with a little fireworks on the Vrijthof and probably a very full de Alla.

Larissa 1

(photo Larissa Muller)


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