Saturday, May 2, 2009

Queen's Day in Amsterdam

Queen's Day in the Netherlands is kind of like the 4th of July and Mardi Gras rolled into one. The day celebrates the birthday of Dutch royal, Queen Beatrix. It doesn't matter that her real birthday is a few months earlier. April 30th is the day.

Everyone wears orange, as that's the symbol of the Dutch royal family, and there are free concerts and fesitivies in the major squares.

The entire city turns also turns into the world's biggest flea market. It's the one day where anyone can sell things on the street without a permit, so families line the streets selling old clothes, toys, and other junk. Kids perform songs and play instruments hoping for cash, and entrepreneurs walk through the throngs selling snacks on trays. Competition for the best square of pavement is fierce. Days before the event, tape and paint with the word "bezet" (reserved) started appearing on the pavement. Location location location!

We enjoyed watching boats full of orange clad partiers glide down the canal with their booming sound systems, but left the center before it got too packed. The Dutch are great partiers and it was a fesitve atmosphere and a fun day.

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