King’s Day Cycling

Yesterday, 27th April 2015, was the first Koningsdag or King’s Day that was celebrated on the right day of the year. People from the suburbs of ʼs-Hertogenbosch cycled in droves to the festivities in the city centre.

Three girls having a great time on their way to the King’s Day festivities.
Boys looked for their football jerseys so they too wore something orange.

King Willem-Alexander will be in power for two years on the 30th of April next. After his inauguration he decided that the Dutch National Holiday (that had been held as Koninginnedag or Queen’s Day from 1949 to 2013 on the 30th of April) would from then on be celebrated on his own birthday, on the 27th of April. But last year that date was on a Sunday and as a protestant king you are not allowed to celebrate on the day of the lord. That meant that King’s Day was celebrated on Saturday last year. That in turn made this year’s holiday the first ‘real’ King’s Day.

Entire families mounted their bicycles to go to the city centre.

Compared to the former Queen’s Day nothing much changed. There are street parties in every village, town and city in the Netherlands and the notorious vrijmarkten (free markets) where people are allowed to sell their personal used items in the streets, were also held in many places. Children’s games and simply having a drink with friends were also on the programme. Most of the visitors went to the city centre on their bicycles. There were parked bicycles as far as the eye could see just outside of that city centre.

The orange items glowed in the – unexpected – sun.
Sometimes the outfits seemed to have come from the same box where people keep their carnival outfits…

The weather forecast had been very bad, but on the day itself it was much better than expected. It seems many people hadn’t made plans and decided in the final moment to cycle to the city centre after all. The cycleways were full of people. And as per tradition most people were dressed in at least something in the colour orange! The blue skies, the fresh green of spring and that splash of orange made looking at all those people cycling a joy. Naturally I recorded it… So enjoy the video!

Cycling to the King’s Day festivities in ʼs-Hertogenbosch



6 thoughts on “King’s Day Cycling

  1. I’m usually such a nerd for the infrastructural, historical, and rush hour videos but I really enjoyed this video, the scale and pace at which it was made.

    Some favorite moments:

    @ 0:25 seeing people bike three (four?) abreast

    @0:34 the angle this was shot

    @0:57 really like this angle as you can see the constant flow of bikes

    @ 1:03 observation – four of the girls have front racks

    @1:06 what’s going on here? holding onto something on the other guy’s bike?

    @1:10 All those bikes!

    As a general note, the front racks seem especially prevalent in this video compared to some of your others. Is there a reason for this or does this video just show typical number of bikes with front racks?

    By the end of this video I wanted to hop on my Dutch bike and go for a ride.

    1. haha I hadn’t even noticed that at 1:06 but indeed the second guy lets the first one pull him. I don’t think there are more front racks than usual. This all seems like very regular cycling to me. Only that there is a splash of orange everywhere is what makes it special to me.

      1. Front racts are kind of a trend, right now. Twenty years ago you barely saw them; now they seem to be incredibly popular, mostly among young people cycling to school.

  2. We had a lovely day in Utrecht, yesterday. We rode with the kids round to Oog in al, an area of Utrecht where the free market is aimed at kids, it wasn’t as busy as the centre but a good square mile of people in orange selling kids stuff. We found half a dozen board games, a transformer, a few cuddly toys etc and rode home again. I’m off to England tomorrow to visit family and friends, back to car dependency land. It will seem strange, not just that I can’t ride very far, if at all, but that nobody else will be.

  3. I do not remember all branches of Protestants prohibiting celebrations on Sundays. Maybe that is only in Calvinism which is that the King is.

    1. The King’s branch is actually quite liberal. But the Netherlands has a large group of orthodox-confessional protestants (mostly found in Zeeland and on the Veluwe), that have strong opinions on activities on sundays.

      Since everybody else doesn’t really care (there’s no real valid reason to prefer sunday above saturday, except for the minor inconvenience of having to communicate the date-shift once every 7 years), it’s good practice to take these objections into consideration.

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