Written by Markus
This used to be Queen’s Day and took place once a year on April 30th. Now the Queen is no longer a Queen, her son became King and his birthday is on April the 27th (26 April if the 27th is a Sunday). This is a national holiday where streets of all cities are filled with bands playing music, street performances, bars are open for business and most importantly, the “free market”, where everybody is allowed to sell whatever they want to the public without the need for licenses. This means there are millions of people selling the things from the attics that they no longer need, while the other millions shop, drink and party.
Most popular destinations are Amsterdam and Utrecht. But seen the streets are overly crowded with drunks, it are mostly the youngsters going there. The rest goes to other cities and celebrate on a more traditional way. And this is what happened in Dordrecht, where I live. I decided to sell things and make it a fun father-daughter experience.
So in some cities, it is a free-for-all, meaning you head out the night before and then claim and stake the spot where you will run your little shop. Exception are old inner cities, as the streets will be small (from the 18th century), yet they will be crowded. In this case, the city will setup market stalls for the people who live in those streets, ensuring at least that emergency vehicles can pass. This is also the case for us, so I booked a stall.
At 7am we woke up. We prepared well and everything was ready to go, neatly packed in boxes. At 7:30 we arrived at our stall and were surprised that is was huge. An easy 10 meters to fill with our stuff. We also were on a corner, giving us extra space.
We unpacked our things: clothing, tools, shoes, hats and antiques. More or less the same kind of stuff that most people were selling. At 8am, the first shoppers arrived, grabbing the first deals of the day. Everything is priced between 1 and 5 euro per item, with exception of antiques. And most stuff is new or barely used. A true heaven for bargain hunters.
Business took off, right from the start. Though we had about 1500 items out, we sold at least one item every minute. Not that this leads to big money (remember, everything is between 1 and 5 euro), it was fun to do. The negotiating whilst trying to keep order, was fun and made time fly. Before we knew it, it was 5 pm and the market was closing.
But that did not mean King's Day was over, as now the parties started. We quickly brought what was left back home (a 1 minute walk, using a supermarket cart), dumped everything in the living room and headed out again. And we were lucky we did.
We found music events.
We found dancing.
We found fireworks.
And we found food..
And of course, we found kids dressed up in orange (our national color)
All in all a beautiful day that brought back a lot of memories from my childhood, whilst creating memories for my daughter. I am already looking forward to next year’s King’s Day Koningsdag.....,,,...!