Queen's Day (Dutch: Koninginnedag) is a celebration in the Netherlands.
It started as a celebration of the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina (1880-1962), on August 31. After 1948 Koninginnedag moved to April 30 (the birthday of Queen Juliana). When Queen Beatrix succeeded Juliana on January 30, 1980, she decided to keep the holiday on April 30th as a tribute to her mother. Furthermore, the weather on her own birthday (January 31st) tends to prohibit the traditional outdoor festivities. April 30th, however, is renowned for having very pleasant weather. Wilhelmina. Juliana. Beatrix.
The so-called 'vrijmarkt' ('freemarket') is similar to a nationwide car boot sale or Flea market. Owing to a holiday dispensation from the Dutch government, people do not need to pay taxes on their sales. Many people set up stalls or blankets in parks, on sidewalks and even on the roads themselves (cars are banned in some streets). The items sold are traditionally old rubbish, but for commercial traders this is also an extremely profitable day. ING bank has estimated the size of the trade in 2007 at about 200 million euros, with the approximately 1.8 million sellers making 111 euros on average. The freemarket in Amsterdam attracts the most visitors.
Originally a celebration of the Queen's birthday, it is now mainly known for the 'vrijmarkt' (literally 'freemarket'), the one day in the year that anyone is allowed to sell anything in the streets and 'koninginnenacht' (Queen's Night) on the preceding night. It is also a Dutch holiday.
Typically, many children sell their cast-off toys and clothes while entrepreneurs sell food, beverages and almost anything else imaginable. Prices tend to be very negotiable and drop as the day progresses. By the end of the festivities, much of the unsold merchandise is left on the streets to be picked through until it's hauled off by local municipalities shortly after. In Amsterdam, the main streets in the city centre are increasingly being taken over by commercial traders, pushing the intended car boot sale out towards smaller streets and the outer ring of the centre.
This is a typical occasion for oranjegekte (orange craze), when the colour orange is a ubiquitous sight, referring to the name of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange. There are orange banners, orange colored foods and drinks, nd extreme amounts of orange clothing and creative accessories are worn as well. Sometimes even the water in fountains is dyed orange.
In recent years, Koninginnedag has become more and more of an open-air party, with many concerts and special events in public spaces, particularly in Amsterdam, which attracts anywhere from 500,000 to 800,000 visitors. Many Dutch people living abroad try to make the pilgrimage home (with many 'clued-up' tourists) to experience this holiday each year. Booking accommodations in Amsterdam and elsewhere for Queen's Day is notoriously difficult, requiring booking 6 months or more ahead.
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