King’s Day: An International Perspective



“You must experience King’s day!” – September, Orientation day, Dutch Culture speech.

Before the Birthday-yay

From the moment I had arrived here I was informed of this strange, energetic and orange day. I saw photographs taken in the streets of the Netherlands blanketed with people dressed in orange, the canals dotted with their orange party boats and orange food everywhere. The week leading up to King’s day I ate orange doughnuts, I saw orange attire and the boats prepped for their orange parties.


King’s Day!

After partying the night before in Utrecht (photo above), coming home at 5 am, it was King’s day! And it truly was a day of energy, singing, dancing and peppered with orange! The streets had been cleaned of any evidence from the night before, or perhaps the rain rinsed it all away. The rain, I would like to think, was a blessing to prepare the grounds for what was to come with the many beer spillages and street food crumbs. Every square stood the main stage filling the space with a variety of music genres, live music and otherwise. Dutch, world food vans, and huts surrounded these areas creating a dance floor for people to gather, eat, drink and party. A surge of energy zipped around Utrecht as the festival was blooming – ready for the coming hours of complete Kingly appreciation. The sun made its presence just in time for the ESN King’s Day Boat party.


ESN King’s Day Boat Party!

Orange flags – check. Orange international students – check. Beer and snacks – check. Face paint for those without Dutch flags on their cheeks – check. The interior of the boat was a wave of orange décor. The tables were garnished with Heineken and snacks. Proudly, the ESN flag was presented on the side of the boat. International students were dressed in orange garments, wigs, hats, glasses, fake tattoos and any other orange accessory they could place on their body – completing the ultimate orange theme for total appreciation of King’s day! Once seated and on our way around Utrecht canals, the music began, more beer was presented, everyone was laughing and joking together and the atmosphere was full of spirit and appreciation of the Dutch King. Many other party boats, full of orange and fun, sailing past, waving and cheering, and contributing to the fantastic experience of King’s day so far. The boat party was a total success, a great attribution to the experience of King’s day and a fantastic start.

On exiting the boat, the town was beaming with even more orange than before! The streets were crowded, music was humming from all corners, the ‘free markets’ were up and running. On dancing to live bands, eating an array of food, and indulged in the Dutch culture of King’s day it is safe to say the day lived up to expectations and well and truly exhausted our bodies from the festivity and celebrations.



What follows is a few remarks of King’s day from international students studying here in Utrecht:

“I’ve never been one to get my hands dirty with public holidays, but it’s difficult to avoid the infectiousness of King’s Day. Being new to the Netherlands, I had no idea what to expect, so, donning a head of artificial orange hair, my friends and I set off to Amsterdam, our hopes and horizons begging to be expanded. It’s safe to say we weren’t disappointed. Streets lined with thousands of people, bodies emblazoned with every form of neon orange clothing imaginable, and music pumping through the crowd, the spirit of King’s Day was truly alive and well.

To celebrate, my friends and I decided to attend a King’s Day festival just outside the city, where a number of DJs would be playing a range of different music. Before long, the drinks were flowing and limbs were flailing in a fashion vaguely reminiscent of dance. The event, though small, had an appreciated sense of intimacy that is rare for festivals, and one that meant it wasn’t too difficult to find the friend that inevitably loses themselves in the crowd after a few too many beers. A package well worth the money, in my opinion.

For me, King’s Day embodied everything I’d hoped for from studying abroad. Often, parties can be repetitive, but King’s Day offered more than just a few drinks and a bit of dancing. It gave me an insight into a huge part of what it means to be Dutch, and the values and culture that is so important to the Netherlands, and what more can you ask for! This might have been my first King’s Day, but it certainly won’t be my last!” – Tyler – England


“I enjoyed the idea of the second-hand stuff. Because of these stalls, I walked into different parts of Utrecht which I would not have done before, I found this quite cute. I enjoyed the ESN King’s boat!” –  Vivian – HongKong


“Kingsday was a spark of orange in everyday life. Utrecht buzzed with life with people from all over the world gathered together to celebrate the king’s birthday. If you haven’t done it already I strongly recommend you to experience this event at least once in your lifetime.

You won’t regret it!” – Giorgenzo – Italy

“what I really enjoyed was the public events, how everybody was out on the streets and the whole society kicked back and enjoyed the night/day. It was just good fun getting dressed up and getting drunk, and a good reason to wear luminous shades of orange for the first time in my life!” – Angus – New Zealand

‘This was my second Kingsday in the Netherlands, but it was definitely an unforgettable one! I went with my friends to the Kingsland Festival, where the cheerful crowd and great music created such a good vibe. If you wanted to party and dance all day, this was the perfect place to be!’ – Una- Croatia


“Amazing atmosphere throughout the city! I loved the flee markets and the mini bands that played on the streets! A really enjoyable experience!” – Sian – England

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