April 27th is King’s Day here in the Netherlands – they celebrate the reigning monarch’s birthday in uniquely Dutch style. What this means, so far as I can tell, is three things: a) It’s one of the rare “bank holidays” where just about every office and shop is completely closed (since one gets more weeks of actual annual leave / vacation here, one doesn’t need to depend on the three-day weekends to breathe, as one does in the US), and this year it fell smack in the middle of the work week which was kind of fun; b) As demonstrated in this post, here in Amsterdam it’s the one day per year where folks are allowed to lay out their wares on any old street corner for sale – and key parks like Vondelpark are reserved for kids; c) Once the day becomes more advanced, all the rest of the adults come out and turn more or less the entire city into one continuous, enormous citywide moving block party, with bands everywhere. Oh, and unlike the US, one’s allowed to drink in public here – though the city’s site reminds everyone that one bottle (allowed) means one bottle, not a six-pack (not allowed).
I’m fortunate to live just down the street from Vondelpark, more or less the most famous of Amsterdam’s many lovely parks, and having been told that the kid-energy in the morning there would be a lot of fun, I strolled on up around 8:30 and took all of the photos on this post between 8:30 and 9:45. It was fantastic – so many families out there with kids proudly displaying the toys they no longer want, or selling cookies they’d baked or coffee they’d made. The entire park become one lovely kid-driven block party / garage sale (the US term). It was delightful energy, and it began with the kid just above who’d clearly arrived early to snag one of the best spots just at the main western entrance to Vondelpark, whose bright smile & “goede morgen, mijnheer” started my exploration in just the right mood.
I did venture out to Centrum in the evening and experienced the many bands on the street and the HORDES of people moving en masse from one band to the next…but photos just weren’t possible. You’d have be here to understand, but let me say for those who’ve been here: it’s the first time I’ve seen pedestrians take over every street entirely so that no wheeled vehicle of any sort can move anywhere, whether main street, bike path, or sidewalk. (I mean, true, in Centrum at midnight during tourist season it’s hard, but it’s limited to Centrum…this day, much more broadly distributed, much longer, and more fun with bands and all.) So enjoy this gallery celebrating national pride the Dutch way, which is quite inclusive and enjoyable, I’d have to say. 😊