King’s Day from your couch – our step by step guide

King’s Day this year is a family-only affair. Photo credit:

Not sure how to celebrate Koningsdag from home? Never fear, has your whole day planned out for you.

In 2020, the focus is less on drunken street parties and more on donating to support those in need. Here’s a morale-boosting programme of home-based entertainment to give Willem-Alexander a big shout-out for his birthday, while helping to keep Covid-19 at bay.

09:45 Across the Netherlands, bells ring out to mark the official start to King’s Day. If you are not already dressed head-to-toe in orange, you have just fifteen minutes to do so before the first festivity of the day. If the Dutch flag is not yet flying from your window/balcony/gable, now is the time to fix that.

10:00 Poke your head out of your bunting-bedecked window and join the country in a chorus of the Wilhelmus, the national anthem. Here are the words in Dutch and English, along with the melody. If you’re a musician, you can find sheet music here for a huge range of instruments and join in with the Concertgebouw orchestra who will be live streaming their performance. Share your performance on social media with the hashtag #Wilhelmus2020. You can catch the King’s speech at this time too via

10:05 Get the telly on and look back at the previous six King’s Days with ‘NOS Koningsdag 2020’ on NPO1 – a heart-warming reminder, no doubt, of what is supposed to happen on this day. Alternatively, toss a few coins in the hats of the kids performing in the virtual Vondelpark, or make a donation to the chosen charities of your favourite acts live streamed on Koningsdag Thuis. The website also lets you snoop on what the King himself is up to as he celebrates his big day locked down at the Paleis Huis ten Bosch.

11:45 If that’s enough sofa time, stay tuned and jump up and down to exercise programme ‘Nederland in Beweging’. If you have kids, direct them to the online Kinderen Voor Kinderen’s Koningsspelen medley, where they can dance along with the teenyboppers.

12:00 Midday is the start of Balkoningsdag, an initiative connecting thousands of people via live stream, including some of the country’s best-loved artists and DJs. There are cash prizes for the best decorated balcony, and at 1pm there’s a giant group toast to the king. Sign up on Facebook to participate.

13:00 If you haven’t already pushed your way to the front of the queue while others were glued to the TV/singing Wilhelmus/hanging bunting, now is a good time to peruse the online vrijmarkten (street markets) such as KiKa vrijmarkt, mijnwebwinkel or Nextdoor for a bargain.

15:00 Time for the saamhorigheidsconcerten, an initiative led by the KBOV and rapper Ali B. encouraging musicians to give performances to elderly neighbours – at 1.5m, of course. The cool crew can tune into a free, star-studded digital festival ‘538 Koningsdag’, organised by Radio 538. Everyone else can eat orange-coloured Tompoucen – or bake them themself if they need to kill time.

Tompoucen in King’s Day colours. Photo credit: Algont via Wikimedia Commons

16:00 The country is invited to join the king in a Nationale Toost and raise a glass in honour of the 53-year-old birthday boy. If you’re getting tiddly, how about challenging the household to a quiz? There’s this entry-level one in English or this one in Dutch, while the Rijksmuseum have really rolled out the red carpet with a bilingual art and history quiz with printable resources and video introductions to each of the three rounds. Kiddie quizzers have this, and non-quizzers can amuse themselves with these online, advert-riddled King’s Day-themed games.

17:30 It’s your last chance to buy a lottery ticket for the Koningsdagtrekking. The top prize is €250,000 every year for 20 years. Proceeds go to health and sport charities. Tickets start at €3 and are available until 6pm.

19:00 Back to the box, as the NOS broadcast a 50-minute summary of how the day has gone across all 12 provinces. Hopefully this will be more insightful than just a bunch of people watching TV and going on the internet.

20:00 It’s festival time in Amsterdam. Regular tickets for Vrroom’s three-hour celebration ‘King’s Day 2020 VR’ on the Dam cost €12.50, while a €35 VIP ticket includes drone service and free champagne. Proceeds going to the Voedselbank Nederland (Dutch food bank). Revellers with VR glasses will get the most out of the experience, but live streaming means all ticket-holders can enjoy the event. The line-up includes Vangrail, Kwambo and DJ Jochem Hamerling.

22:00 If you entered the King’s Day lottery, now is the moment of truth. Check the website, app or NOS teletekst to see if King’s Day 2020 has brought you a princely sum.

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