The one true Dutch national holiday is King’s Day, or Koningsdag, when the Netherlands celebrates King Willem-Alexander’s birthday. Of course, there are other days that most of the country celebrates, but this one is unique to the Netherlands. This orange-feast is the biggest party of the year, and Rotterdam’s celebrations are second only to Amsterdam.

On King’s Day 2023, Rotterdam’s party will outshine even Amsterdam as the royal family will visit the city, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of King’s Day. With the theme “We are all Kings & Queens”, everyone is invited to join the party, as everyone is special and a crown fits on every head.

A royal visit to Rotterdam

On Thursday, 27 April 2023, King Willem-Alexander and his family will celebrate King’s Day with a tour through the city. At 11 in the morning, the royal party is welcomed festively at the Afrikaanderplein on the southside of the city. From here the party will continue along the Pretorialaan, towards the river.

At the Maashaven the royal party will step on board a water taxi, to enjoy a tour of the river, like any visitor to the city should. After cruising around Katendrecht and the SS Rotterdam, the royals will pass under the Erasmus Bridge to make their way to Plein 1940. From here, the group will move along the Blaak, through the Markthal and on to the Binnenrotte, where the tour ends with performances by well-known local acts on a big stage.

A long the route, each part of the city will be represented is different ways. The Pretorialaan will be a swinging spectacle, where different cultures and nationalities melt together in a mix of Surinamese kotomisis, Hindustani dancers, Moroccan folkloric percussionists, belly dance and salsa. Further down the road, the royal company will meet resilient Rotterdammers at standing tables, be treated to both acrobatic and street football tricks.

On the water, there will be all sorts of ships accompanying the royal’s water taxi, including one-man youth sailboats and sustainable and innovative ships. There will be a ballet performance on the aft deck of the SS Rotterdam, and a formal salute from an air defence frigate of the Royal Navy.  

On the northside of the river, there will be spoken word performances, a block or ‘Blaak’ party and lots of sports. There will be demonstrations by beatboxers, breakdancers, street basketball players, kickboxers, free runners and youth players from the three main football clubs in the city Feyenoord, Sparta and Excelsior.

A true Dutch party - King’s Day in Rotterdam

Get the party started early on King’s Night

The celebrations to this big national party start the night before, also known as the Orange Night. It’s a big night for Dutch music, with parties and live shows all over the city. One of the biggest parties is TIKTAK at the Maassilo, where there will be a sea of orange dressed partygoers and many live-performances from some of the Netherlands’ biggest pop and urban artists.

Other not-to-miss parties included, Nacht van Oranje at Ahoy, house event Kortsluiting x SUB at Munch Rotterdam, K-Nacht at Weelde, and The Kings & Queens Gala at De Doelen. If a big party isn’t really what you are looking for, simply go to Witte de Withstraat where bars and clubs will await you with open doors. We do recommend that you pace yourself on this night, as you don’t want to miss out on the celebrations of the next day.

A true Dutch party - King’s Day in Rotterdam

City wide celebrations on King’s Day

On King’s Day itself, Rotterdam celebrates all day long, starting early in the morning at 6 and going well into the night. The most important thing for visitors to prepare in advance is their orange coloured outfit. Everyone will wear orange coloured clothing on this day as it is the colour of the Dutch royal family.

The night before might be all about parties and drinking but there is much more to do on the day itself. Flea markets pop up all over town, with the best ones at Liskwartier and on the Coolsingel and Binnenrotte. You’ll find all sorts of items to barter over, including clothing, trinkets, food and drinks. Bring your cash and a bag, just in case something catches your eye.

If you want to celebrate King’s Day with your kids there is plenty of fun to be had as well. At the Lloyd Multiplein there is a funfair with dozens of rides, including Tea Cups, a Ferris Wheel, Bumper Cars, a maze and many others. Or head to Rotterdam Zoo and find the new ruler of Rotterdam’s animal kingdom.

Many Rotterdam attractions will open their doors just as they normally would, though some may have slightly adjusted opening hours. If you want to head out on to the water, the River Cruise, Pancake Cruise and Splashbus are all out there throughout the day. At Euromast, you can get a great overview of all the festivities in the city, while avoiding the crowds for a bit. Another place to find a bit of quiet, is at Mini Golf Rotterdam.

For those who didn’t get their fill of music the night before, there are several music festivals to enjoy during King’s Day as well. At Het Park, at the foot of Euromast, you can attend the Oranjebitter Festival, which has a massive music line-up of Dutch DJs and a funfair. In the city centre you’ll find Code Orange Festival, which has a carnival atmosphere (ticket required).

In the north-east of the city, the Kralingse Bos Festival has 5 stages with music throughout the day (ticket required). And finally, there is Kingsland Festival for those who like house, techno and hardstyle (ticket required). Truly, there is no party quite like King’s Day any where else in the world!