Today is King’s Day in the Netherlands. At the very least, it is a nice day off! It celebrates the birthday of King Willem-Alexander, although most people use it as an excuse to head into town and enjoy a lot of good music and alcohol. (Seriously, walking into the local supermarket, the first thing on display was six-packs of beer. They know where their money is made!)
Dutch flags on display for the holiday with the Grote Kerk (“Big Church”) in the background.
You can also check out the King’s Day Google doodle. The doodle celebrates tompouces, a pastry which is normally pink. Unless it is King’s Day, and then it is bright orange.
There are two main activities on King’s Day: 1) The king and his family always visits one city each year. This year was Rotterdam. 2) A lot of cities have “free markets” (Vrijmarkten) which is basically a huge garage sale – one day a year everyone in the nation is out selling things. Or buying things. On that day people can clear out all of their junk and old items and sell them in specifically designated spots in each city.
Here is a live blog from NOS (the national news channel). It is in Dutch but at the very least you can check out the pictures to get a sense of how crowded it was/is!
On my way to Kelly’s Expat Shopping last weekend I spotted a lovely bunch of flowers planted along the sidewalk:
It is a good reminder that spring is coming, although it certainly hasn’t arrived yet. There have been a few days of full sunshine and blue skies, but it quickly turns cold and grey again. We were promised good weather this week but then the wind direction changed, coming from the east rather than the sea to the west. Brrr.
Speaking of spring… you have a few more days to pick up free seeds in preparation for National Seeding Day. This is possible due to an initiative from The Pollinators (article in Dutch). The goal is to have more flowers which are bee friendly.
So last time I talked about King’s Night, which is when you go to music festivals, drink overpriced beer, and dance like a maniac. Oh, and try to avoid being pickpocketed–apparently the police found a 13 year old and 20 year old with a bag full of 21 stolen telephones on King’s Day (article in Dutch over at omroepwest.nl). Sheesh.
In contrast, King’s Day itself is about selling cheap stuff. This is the one day a year it is legal for anyone to sell their old furniture, toys, books, you name it. Well, anything except food. Almost all cities ban that. I didn’t get any photos of these vrijmarkten (free markets) this year, but check out my post from way back in 2012 (!). Back when it was Queen’s Day, before she abdicated the throne and became Princess Beatrix. Marco took those photos for me since I was till living in America back then.
One thing I did get photos of was the flower sale at the Lange Voorhout. It was quite colorful, and not just because of the flowers:
These juichcapes (cheer capes) were sold by the grocery chain Jumbo last summer when there were a lot of high profile sporting events going on (Tour de France, Dutch Grand Prix, UEFA Euro Cup, etc.).
Tonight is the 10th anniversary of The Life I Live festival. Note: their website is definitely experiencing server capacity issues, so it is a bit hit or miss to visit it right now.
The last edition was of course in 2019. It is held in The Hague’s city centre, with musical acts spread out over about 8-10 stages. The opener this year was the Ukrainian band Go_A. Last year they participated in the Eurovision Song festival held in Rotterdam. This year the band got special permission from the Ukrainian government to travel to The Hague to perform (as technically Ukrainian men are not supposed to leave Ukraine right now).
This stage was at the Lange Voorhout not far from the Escher museum and Hotel Des Indes.
This smaller stage was on the opposite end of the Lange Voorhout, featuring the band Kuzko. I didn’t stay long, but they really brought the bass! It was a weird feeling to feel the bass after not going to any concerts the last two years.
King’s Night (and more accurately King’s Day) is a holiday to celebrate the birth of the Dutch King Willem Alexander who turns 55 tomorrow. The joke “Max komt misschien later…” is a joke that Max Verstappen, the 2021 F1 world champion, might stop by here later. Hmm.
(Man, I still remember when it was weird to see Willem Alexander with a beard!)
This coming Wednesday is King’s Day here in the Netherlands, a public holiday for most of us. The larger Dutch cities like The Hague and Amsterdam also have parties to celebrate. The Hague has “The Life I Live” festival (official website in Dutch) traditionally held the evening before, dubbed King’s Night. This free musical festival is held throughout the city centre. This year there are 8 small stages for artists to perform. The Ukrainian band Go_A will open the festival.
I suspect things will get a bit insane Tuesday evening as the event has not been held for the last two years due to corona. The 2019 edition drew 275,000 visitors for those two days (omroepwest.nl, in Dutch), so it will be interesting to see how many we get this year. The local transportation company HTM runs an alternate route due to how congested the city centre gets. (I must admit it is kind of fun to walk down the middle of the street and not worry about cars or trams.) HTM and the national train service will also add extra night buses and trains to help everyone get home at the end of the evening.
But why did I mention orange in this post’s title? Because everyone wears orange, of course! Well, the tourists and the diehard Dutchies do, at any rate. Here is a look at the King’s Day merchandise at Xenos:
Anyone else remember the attempt to rename Koningsdag to Woningsdag for the first year of the pandemic? Woning = home, so it was an attempt to be clever and tell people to be safe and celebrate the holiday from home.
Over the weekend the intercom unexpectedly buzzed. It turned out to be a surprise package from work. Inside were gifts to celebrate King’s Day with.
Think of things like a toxically orange lei (you can just see it hidden behind the orange ballons), nuts, cheese blocks, Valencian orange tonic water, and a game of tic tac toe with wooden blocks. Oh, and an elderberry syrup mixture to stir into your water.
The two drinks were Aperol Spritz, an Italian drink (aperol, sparkling water and prosecco). They actually weren’t part of the package. I still had leftover aperol spritz from last year when I celebrated King’s Day with my coworkers! Virtually, of course. Luckily the bottle is now empty. It’s an okay drink… once a year?
King’s Day is next Tuesday which means a lovely day off. That’s about the only advantage these days, since the usual King’s Night parties (the evening before) and the King’s Day market can’t take place this year due to the pandemic. But who am I kidding? I probably haven’t gone to a King’s Night party in the last 5 years (back when it used to be Queen’s Night, before she abdicated and gave the throne to her son).
It also means you see a lot of toxic orange baked goods at the grocery stores.
On the left in the back you have soesjes (profiterole according to the English Wikipedia). Those are pastries filled with cream. In the middle you have tompouce, which is just called tompouce over at the English Wikipedia because it is a Dutch/Belgium pastry. My sweet tooth doesn’t usually show itself so I don’t eat this kind of stuff that often anymore. The best tompouce I ever had was from Hema with a lime flavor, putting it a bit more on the sour spectrum than the sweet spectrum. But tompouces are tricky to eat, more like overstuffed hamburgers. If you bite wrong the cream in the middle squirts out in the back.
On the right you have a schnitte. I had no idea what this was. I told Marco and Roger this and they looked at me a bit incredulously. Apparently its a two or three layer cake with whipped cream between the layers, or sometimes jam. Marco said that Viennetta ice cream (English Wikipedia) could also be an example of an ice cream schnitte.
Viennetta was actually a possibility last week for celebrating my birthday, but we went for cheesecake instead. I will always consider Viennetta a luxury, since that is how I viewed it as a kid. With the commercial where the group would enjoy the ice cream in clear, tall glasses (obligatory YouTube link)…
As you all know, Monday was King’s Day here in The Netherlands. A day that is typically celebrated by all things orange. And even though this year was a bit more subdued, we still got into the spirit. Pun intended?
During one of my work team meetings last week it was suggested that we do an Aperol Spritz competition in honor of King’s Day, and that we send in our photos. While I did not lift my drink at 16:00 for the Nationale Toost (National toast) yesterday, Marco and I did make the drinks later in the evening.
Note: the recipe calls for a slice of orange as garnish, but you make do with what you have (you can never have too many limes!). Otherwise it is 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and one part soda water. And in our case a special King’s Day cookie which I refer to as a “sugar bomb”.
Aperol Spritz is apparently an Italian drink suitable for days when you can sit on the terrace. We’re heading into a very rainy week, so it will have to be an inside drink for the foreseeable future. But at least King’s Day 2020 was celebrated with a touch of orange!
The National Association of King’s Day organizers announced today that Koningsdag (King’s Day) will become Woningsdag (Home Day) this year. Even if you don’t speak Dutch you can see the subtle change in the word to encourage people to stay at home while celebrating Koningsdag.
King’s Day is a day of birthday celebration for King Willem-Alexander who is turning 53 this year. It is a nationally recognized holiday where (most) people don’t need to go in to work. Previously the holiday was known as Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day until Princess Beatrix abdicated the throne in 2013. She also celebrated the day in April, in honor of her mother. Probably a good thing for us as Princess Beatrix was born in late January – brrrr.
Here are some of the activities planned for the Woningsdag later this month:
hanging Dutch flags outside (both for the king on his birthday and for each other)
bell ringing between 09:45-10:00 throughout the country
singing of the national anthem at 10:00
NOS (the national broadcaster) will air a program at 10:10 looking at previous King’s Day events
a digital market for clothes in the afternoon. I have no idea how they will make that work – but the Dutchies are well known for their King’s Day flea markets. See also:
The king will read some of the digital letters written to him by children
At 16:00 there will be a toast to the king in which everyone can participate (woo! alcohol at 16:00!)
In the evening NOS (the national broadcaster) will air a program looking at how Woningsdag was celebrated throughout the country