Home to the largest university in The Netherlands, the Dutch city of Utrecht fully showcases its exuberance of youth on King’s Day.
As I longingly surveyed the barren shelves of the alcohol aisle in my local Albert Heijn supermarket, my ignorance – and ill-timing – could have been forgiven. Usually a display of internationally-acclaimed wines and spirits, what remained at the scene now seemed superfluous to the extravagant events taking place on the streets and canals outside: a few bottles of high-percentage Belgian beer, and me.
Koningsdag – or King’s Day to resident expats not yet fluent in the native tongue – is a joyous celebration in the land where orange has always been the new black. A newcomer to this event, arguably the biggest on the Dutch calendar, I had to quickly gain my bearings and ascertain where I could go to sample a taste of the festivities; luckily, I was in just the right city to do so.
Whether you are fortunate enough to sail down the iconic Oudegracht waterway on board one of an assortment of boats, or if you choose to sample the atmosphere – and the local brew being served – at an open-air concert in Neude Square where literally every man and his dog are donned in the national colour, you will soon learn that Utrecht is a city with a vivacious and indeed infectious energy.
Whilst some national holidays like Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day seem to transcend borders and often take on a bigger commercial meaning outside of its country of origin, King’s Day is quintessentially Dutch and its people should be proud of it.