The Netherlands, the country where RITUALS… was founded 15 years ago, has many ongoing traditions and customs that are typical to this small nation. If we were to mention clogs, windmills, tulips, cheese, bikes, Rembrandt or van Gogh, most people will immediately associate them with the Dutch. And although we have exchanged our clogs for more fashionable footwear these days, we are still immensely proud of our tulips and our old masters. And a staggering 27% percent of the Dutch people cycle to work which might explain why we have 13 million bikes in this tiny country. Cheese we still consume by the pounds; 20.5 kg per person per year, to be precise. And let’s not forget Sinterklaas, Santa Claus’ skinny cousin, who arrives with his Pieten by steamboat from Spain each year to bring gifts and joy to all Dutch kids.
Colour your days
And traditionally the Dutch wear orange during festive celebrations in spite of the fact that the flag colors of the Netherlands are red, white and blue. Orange is the color of the Dutch Royal Family, which hails from the House of Orange.
And then, once a year, a happy madness arrives in full orange frenzy that unites the country in kindness, joy and one big party. We are talking about the national holiday that is by far the most widely celebrated holiday in the Netherlands. After centuries of having a Queen’s Day (since 1898 there have only been Queens occupying the throne) it now observes the birthday of King Willem-Alexander on the 27th of April. Ok, a celebration you say, what is so special about that? Well to be honest the Amsterdam activities might well rival the Mardi Gras celebrations and even that of New Year’s Eve in New York. It is a totally unique experience that should probably be on your bucket list.
What to expect
Traditionally the royal family visit two cities on this day. Each year a different province has the honor to receive the royals who will be walking the streets and shake hands with the people who line up along the streets to catch a glimpse. A whole schedule of activities will accompany this official vist. If you wish to see King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima in person, find out where they will be going and hop on a train. And although it is celebrated nationwide, Amsterdam is probably the real place to be if you want to find out what the orange madness is all about.
You could fly in early and pick up the vibe during King’s Night, the evening preceding the event when the atmosphere is already well underway and will continue into the early hours. In the morning the city will be packed already to the brim, especially when the weather is pleasant. There will be music, concerts, food stalls everywhere, activities for children, flea markets and yard sales, boats in the canals and mainly a carefree easygoing atmosphere.
And there will be drinks. Mostly beer and Oranjebitter which is an orange flavored bitter alcoholic beverage that was introduced in 1814 when Willem the Ist became King. Few people will drink it outside of King’s day because well maybe it is just not that fantastic. But it is part of the ritual and so it stays. In for a party?Book your stay for next year but be prepared to be overwhelmed: 2 million visitors will be joining you… And be sure to bring something orange to wear because the rest of the country will too.
If you need a nice place to recuperate after the festivities book these two hotels well in advance.
All amenities are provided by RITUALS… so you will reenter the world the next day completely relaxed.
The Toren – Amsterdam
Book your stay at the wonderful Toren hotel located at the prestigious Keizersgracht in the city center. Being located in the middle of a UNESCO world heritage site makes this one of the most wanted locations in Amsterdam. The hotel which oozes a rich and warm atmosphere is housed in two 17th century original patrician houses, overlooking the canal, so you’ll be a stone throw away from all the festivities. The Toren has been awarded Best City Boutique hotel in 2012 and was voted the most romantic hotel in Amsterdam only recently. We are pretty sure that the complimentary RITUALS amenities you will find in this wonderful hotel must be playing some part in its success :-). If you would like to get more information on the Toren or book a romantic weekend straight away, follow this link: DE TOREN AMSTERDAM
Mauro Mansion – Amsterdam
Mauro Mansion is a 9-room boutique-style hotel, set in a 16th century traditional & classic canal house, owned and run passionately by locals Berry & Marcel. A relaxed, romantic & inspiring hotel that will compliment your Amsterdam King’s Day experience. Mauro mansion is located at the Geldersekade 16 Amsterdam, Netherlands. Book your stay at MAURO MANSION
This post is also available in: Dutch