Koningsdag 2014

Koningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, NetherlandsWhen we came to the Netherlands for 5 days of camping we knew it was going to be a 3 day weekend. What we didn’t know is that the Saturday was Koningsdag, the King’s birthday. The previous night at a restaurant they let us know that they wouldn’t be open on Saturday as everyone in Holland would be wearing Orange (the national colour) or variations of the colours of the flag (Blue, White or Red) and probably getting drunk.

We woke around 7am to the vigorous chiming of church bells for 30 minutes followed shortly thereafter by a marching band. We made our way out of the campground into the streets to find cyclists galore riding into Katwijk Aan See. We headed into the town down a flag laden street to the small mall which was filled with people flowing past stalls of toys and other second hand items, staffed mostly by children.  The street sale stretched around the corner and into the distance down two other streets.

Koningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, NetherlandsWe followed one toward the beach where we came across another crowd and distorted commentary regarding a race of some kind. We stopped a while and ate breakfast and within twenty minutes discovered it was a fun run with a few hundred competitors.

We walked back in to the street market and followed the other road. The market soon became a craft fair stretching into the distance. Having had too much of the jostling crowd we again made our way toward the beach where we came across a football match being played in a car park. The fire department had covered the car park in foam and were arming the goalies for the five aside match with fire hoses. What followed was one of the best football (spuitball) matches I have seen with a team dressed in animal onesies going at it with another team. The goalies used the fire hoses to intercept the ball a few times but mostly aimed it squarely at the players, seemingly not caring whose team they hit, and soaked everyone. There were two more games after that before we wandered away for some lunch.

Sputball, Koningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, Netherlands

In the late afternoon we returned to the town to drink our way along the beach and proceeded through six different bars, enjoying a different flavour of beer at each (Netherland and Belgium beers). At each one we asked what else was happening in the town, to which we received a variety of responses. We were told there would be fireworks at 9, 10 or 11pm. We were told there would be live music somewhere. We were told also that nothing else would happen aside from copious amounts of drinking.

Koningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, NetherlandsKoningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, Netherlands

After the sixth bar we crossed the boulevard back into town and found a small street party with live music. Sadly the crowd were far drunker than we were and the music bad 70’s and 80’s covers like Tina Turner, so we moved on. We took another beer nearby before returning to the beach for sunset. We then headed back toward our campground and found music being played in a tent in the sailing club’s carpark. Rather than pay, we sat in the car park for free. Around 10:30 though the sky erupted with a fireworks display that was quite impressive for such a small town.

Koningsdag was a great deal of fun and far better that the Queen’s Birthday in Australia. Maybe it’s the weather that makes the difference, it currently being spring and the Queen’s Birthday in Adelaide being in winter. Either way, what an excellent day.

Koningsdag, Katwijk Aan See, Netherlands


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