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Celebrating King’s Day – A Traditional Dutch Holiday

April 27 is King’s Day in the Netherlands, a traditional holiday held each year to honor the birthday of the reigning Dutch monarch. At Holland America Line, we take great joy in celebrating King’s Day each year given our roots in the Netherlands and ties to its royal family. In fact, members of the Dutch Royal Family have launched 11 Holland America Line vessels — from Prince Hendrik naming Statendam III in 1929 to Her Majesty Queen Máxima christening Koningsdam in 2016.

Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands naming Koningsdam in 2016.

Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands naming Koningsdam in 2016.

Learn more below about the history of this regal holiday, and the festivities typically held in the Netherlands and on board our ships.

What is the history of King’s Day?
Despite its name, King’s Day wasn’t always a celebration of the king. The original holiday began on August 31, 1885, as Prinsessedag, or Princess’s Day, in honor of the fifth birthday of Princess Wilhelmina. When Princess Wilhelmina was crowned as Queen in 1890 the name changed to Koninginnedag, or Queen’s Day, and the date of the holiday moved to recognize her daughter Juliana when she assumed the throne in 1948.

King’s Day finally took on its current name, Koningsdag, and the date of April 27 in 2014 after His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange-Nassau, ascended to the throne the previous year.

How is King’s Day celebrated in the Netherlands?
King’s Day is typically marked by huge celebrations, including concerts, parties and flea markets in the streets. Locals commonly dye their hair orange or wear orange clothing in honor of the House of Orange-Nassau, which rules over the Netherlands.

King's Day celebrations from years past in the Netherlands, from Holland.com.

King’s Day celebrations from the Netherlands, photo from Holland.com.

Unfortunately, in 2020 public celebrations of the holiday have been cancelled out of health and safety concerns due to COVID-19. But many Dutch residents will undoubtedly raise a glass of Orange Bitter, a traditional liqueur, as a toast to the king from the comfort of their own homes.

What kind of festivities has Holland America Line had on board in the past?
In recognition of our royal connections and Dutch traditions, King’s Day is celebrated across our fleet each year. The festivities kick off with a special King’s Day Afternoon Tea featuring Dutch delicacies such as poffertjes, mini-pancakes dusted with powdered sugar, and tompouces, layered puff-pastry desserts with orange icing.

As King’s Day is known for being a celebration of the color orange in Holland in honor of the House of Orange-Nassau, the evening brings our Orange Party where guests and crew don their best orange attire for a night of music, dancing and specialty cocktails created by our Master Mixologist Dale DeGroff, along with a King’s Day Orange Deck Party. Every cruise year-round actually has an Orange Party — inspired by King’s Day celebrations — and guests receive an email prior to departure inviting them to bring orange attire to wear to the festivities.

Orlando Ashford Kings Day

Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford and shipboard officers are decked out for the Orange Party.

For ships that are at sea on King’s Day, there’s even a Street Market set up around the Lido Pool. The menagerie of food, drinks and souvenirs is a nod to Amsterdam and other cities in the Netherlands, which transform into one big street market for the holiday.

Wherever you are in the world this upcoming King’s Day, we wish you the best. Proost!

11 Comments
  • Jan

    Not everybody in the Netherlands likes Kings-day
    Many people are Republicans and don’t like the Monarchy and do prefer democraty with a chosen president

  • Patricia

    Love Koningsdag on HAL ships! On the Rotterdam it is a full day party and everyone can be Dutch for a day!

  • George & Marga Jones

    We miss you and hope to see you 🛳

  • Valerie Partridge

    Thank you Holland America for sending me emails. I look forward very much to receiving any and all items of interest. More than that I am looking forward to joining one if your fabulous ships when again we will all be able to cruise again. I can hardly wait for that time. My suitcase is ready to pack To everyone at Holland America keep safe. See you soon. Valerie ❤️

  • Valerie Partridge

    Thank you Holland America for your emails. I look forward to receiving any and all information you send. More than that I am looking forward to joining one of your fabulous ships when again we will be able to cruise again I can hardly wait for that time. My suitcase is ready to pack. To everyone at Holland America keep safe. See you soon. Valerie ❤️

  • Mary Ann and John King

    Will hope to travel some King’s Day — just for us !

  • Jean Friedman

    very interesting. I wasn’t aware of this holiday before. Thank you for sharing this information.

  • Phyllis Jones

    Wish we were aboard one of you marvelous ships on this special day. Would love to enjoy the festivities.

  • Sara Harvey

    We found ourselves in Delfr on the Queen’s Birthday in 1992. We were surprised to see big orange bows around the necks of livestock in the fields, oranges lined up on windowsills, and a local brass band all dressed in orange wearing orange wigs. It’s a charming nationwide tradition!

  • corrie begemann

    HI THERE,
    I HAVE BEEN SEVERAL TIME ON THE CRUISE WEN IT WAS KINGS DAY OR QUEEN BEATRIS,IT WAS ALWAYS FUN AND THE DUTCH FOODS AND CHEESES AND HARING WERE AWESOME,AND IT WAS ALWAYS VERY FESTIVE,PLUS THE DECORATIONS,I AM A WIDOW AND THE OFFICERS WERE ALWAYS READY TO DANCE WITH YOU,I HAVE LOTS OF FOUND MEMORIES WITH HOLLAND AMERICA LINE,I LIVE IN CANADA ,BUT STILL DUTCH AND EVERY OTHER YEAR I TRAVEL BACK HOME.YOU GUYS ALWAYS DO A GOOD JOB,I AM JUST ABOUT A 5 STAR WITH YOUR GUYS,BUT THE LAST 2 YEARS MINE HEALTH WAS A PROBLEM,BUT I HOPE SOON TO CRUISE AGAIN WITH YOU GUYS
    STAY SAFE AND HEALTHY

    CORRIE BECK BEGEMANN

  • Astrid en Ed

    Voor de meeste Nederlanders is Koningsdag een leuke feestdag. Dit jaar stonden de festiviteiten in het teken van de Corona crisis, en kon het niet op de traditionele manier gevierd worden.
    Vandaar dat we het mailtje van de HAL extra konden waarderen, was het toch een beetje Koningsdag.
    Enthousiast geworden en maar gelijk een cruise geboekt met een vertrek op 24 april 2021.
    Hopelijk tot zien op het MS Rotterdam. Tot dan !! Voor nu, voor iedereen VEEL GEZONDHEID en STERKTE toegewenst in deze bizarre tijd! We hopen jullie gauw te zien !

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