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Koninginnedag Festival Queen's Day

Amsterdam April 30th 2011

Queens Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands as well as the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba almost always on April 30th unless it falls on a Sunday. In that case the holiday is held on April 29th.

Queen's Day celebrates the birthday of the Queen of the Netherlands and is supposed to be a day of national unity and “saamhorigheid” which is Dutch for “togetherness”. The tradition originated in August of 1885 on the birthday of Princess Wilhelmina, who later became Queen Wilhelmina. When Queen Juliana acceded the throne in 1949, the natioanl holiday moved to her birthday, April 30th, and has since been celebrated then. Even the current Queen of the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix, celebrates her birthday on April 30th.

Queen's Day is most known for the “vrijmarkt” or “freemarket” that occurs all over the country. During the free market everybody is allowed to sell things in the streets. Its like a giant national flea market where the people dont have to pay taxes on their sales.

Most items sold are second-hand discards but for the artists out there it can be an extremely profitable day. ING Bank estimated that about 200 million euroes was traded at the free market in 2007. The free market in Amsterdam attracts the most people.

Like most traditional markets, prices are negotiable and tend to drop as the day ends. You can find art, clothes, food and beverages, all sorts of paraphernalia, electronics, and much more. Much of the unsold merchandise is left on the streets to be picked over. Queen's Day has also recently started incorporatig open-air concerts as a part of the festivities. Particularly in Amsterdam, the concerts attract over 500,000 people.

The night before Queen's Day is also celebrated, known as Queen's Night. Many bars and clubs throughout Netherlands hold special events catering to those who want the night to last forever.

The official color of the event is orange in honor of the name of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange. Orange banners, orange-colored food and drinks, and tons of orange clothing are found everywhere. Sometimes, even the water of the fountains are dyed orange.

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