The weekend before last we went to Amsterdam. We booked the trip a while back to coincide with the King's Day festival on 26th April. This annual festival is in honor of the monarch's birthday; now Willem-Alexander who was inaugurated last year when he took over from his mum. So this year's festival was the first King's day as previously its been Queen's day.
Now in England when we think of celebrations for a monarch's birthday the imagery that comes to mind would be the sort of canons blasting, trumpet sounding, busby donning marching guards and such. The usual po-faced pomp and regalia you associate with the English royalty.
Well my friends in the Netherlands (well in Amsterdam at least) his majesty's birthday is celebrated with a city wide techno rave, where everyone gets dressed up in as much orange garb as possible and wonders round from street party to street party.
We got into the city at about 9.30 on Friday night when the festivities had already began so we had to get into the spirit pretty quick. As various forms of dance music (i'm not complaining) seemed to be the staple, our first outing on the Friday night was a King's Night drum and bass event at a club not too far from where we were staying.
Having got back late from the club or should I say early, and given that neither of us are spring chickens anymore, we foolishly considered skipping a good chunk of the Saturday daytime celebrations to have a long lie in. But still bleary eyed after breakfast we decided to venture out.
And blimey....were greeted with a sea of unexpected orange madness!!
We swiftly dived on a nearby stall for a much needed orange accessory, this was mine (pretty tame i know):
Then went on an adventure. All the streets are closed as are most of the shops which are instead replaced by LOTS of random stalls dotted around between numerous street parties, most seemingly playing techno.
The general order of the day is to wonder around by foot (or bike if you dare) stumbling from one crazy event to the next. There are ticketed official, pay-for events where you can while away the hours but you don't really need to bother with these as there are loads of free stages set up about the city. Once such was the 'Pacha' stage (complete with bar and many an orange reveler) which we found at around 1pm. Guess what...they were playing techno.
Unfortunately we'd made the mistake earlier of not bringing a proper camera with us, so only managed to catch the action on a mobile phone. I desperately wanted to take a pic of a guy sitting, bopping in the window of his apartment overlooking the crowd. You might just be able to make him out in the middle pic above.
Then we moved on and found a massive parade on the canal. The boats just kept on coming.
Some were moored up and holding private parties. Most of the boats were playing music, can you guess what kind of music? Yes you got it techno! Lucky that Dave loves a bit of techno haha:
Like everyone else we spent the rest of the day ambling around being totally bemused. By 7pm it was carnage as you can imagine and I couldn't help but have sympathy for the poor buggers who would have to clean the mess up.
Still it was one of the most surreal and bonkers experiences i've had for a long while.
So who's up for King's Day 2015?