AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch donned orange-colored outfits and celebrated their first ever “King’s Day” on Saturday – a national holiday held in honor of the Netherlands’ newly installed monarch, King Willem Alexander.
The festival, which will last until the early hours of Sunday, features open-air markets and concerts around the country. With sunny weather forecast, more than 1 million people are expected to attend in Amsterdam alone.
King’s Day replaces the traditional “Queens’ Day” festival held this time of year, and the name change is the main difference. Willem Alexander, who assumed the throne last year, is the first male monarch from the Netherlands’ ruling House of Orange in living memory.
“Why change something that’s a success?” the king said in a speech in Amstelveen, which borders Amsterdam on the south, after proclaiming his day “unforgettable.”
In a prerecorded message carried by national broadcaster NOS, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said “music and good times are everywhere: all the ingredients for a splendid day.”
Earlier Saturday, Willem Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima visited the scenic village of De Rijp, 36 kilometers (22 miles) north of Amsterdam, together with their three daughters, Ariane, Alexia and heir apparent Amalia.
In Amsterdam, boats crammed the canals and people turned out in droves to sell bric-a-brac along sidewalks. In parks, kids set up do-it-yourself games like trying to jump and take a bite out of a cookie on a string – using no hands.
Police in the Sarphati park in the south of the city were seen ordering a hobbyist to stop flying a drone, apparently out of safety or privacy concerns.