Festival in Amsterdam
Festival starts the previous evening, and continues through the night. People come from around the world to see what the fuss is about. If you want to join in, plan ahead – hotels need to be booked at least six months in advance. Buildings everywhere are draped with flags, and orange ribbons add extra splashes of colour to the familiar red, white and blue stripes. The locals dont need tmuch encouragement to dress in orange, as they do so for many sporting events, especially when the national football team is involved. But this is something else.
Everyone lets their hair down. Some are clad from head to food in bright costumes – the more outrageous the better – and its difficult not ot have a good time when the world and his wife are decked out in such garish hues. Everything else turns orange too, from the fluttering bunting to the food and drinks. Although festivities are citywide, the Jodraan district is particularly popular. The streets here become so jam-packed with pedestrians that they are effectively gridlocked, despite cars being banned for the day.
All around the sound of music and frivolity permeates the air, as DJ’s and bands compete to pump out jazz, classical, rock and techno. Every year, the biggest outdoor concerts are held on Mueumplein and Rembrandtplein, sponsored by local radio stations. There are parades, street theatre and fireworks, and the canals themselves become a hive of activity, as anyone who can takes o a barge or houseboat to party on the water.
Over in the relative safety of the less watery Vondelpark, entertainment focuses on families and children. Its a day to forget our cares and concentrate on having a good time, says Bart Niemand, a local busienssman. »With so many people busy enjoying themselves it creates and unbelievable vibe«. For those who love second-hand shopping, there’s another source of distratction. All street trading laws are suspended for the day, and no taxes are payable on any goods sold. This ‘vrijmarkt’ (free market) gives everyone the chance to clear out the attic and sell their market, as people set up stalls or blakets in parks and on pavements.Prices are always negotiable and tend to drop as the day wears on.
Is a riot of music, friendship, dancing and entertainers. But its the unbelievable swathes of orange that linger in the memory. Queen’s Day is a celebration of national unity and togetherness (‘saamhorigheid’ in Dutch), and there it definitely exceeds expectations.