King’s Day in Amsterdam

King’s Day in Amsterdam

This year mark’s the first King’s day (Koningsdag) in the Netherlands’ – now taking the place of what was the annual Queen’s day, which, celebrated since 1885 on the 31st of August and later on the 30th April to coincide with the appropriate monarch’s birthday, is a nationwide celebration of the King’s or Queen’s birthday. This year the celebrations will be held on Saturday the 26th of April and will see the people of Amsterdam head to the streets, the canals, the parks and everywhere in-between to help Amsterdam become a giant party of colour, alcohol and flamboyance.

There’s an awful lot that happens during King’s day – not just merriment, there’s also a free market or vrijmarkt, which give everyone the opportunity to head to the streets of the city to sell their wares – expect second hand goods and homemade foods to take centre stage. The celebrations that last the entire night are of course the main event – with all night club nights, gigs and street celebrations. Perhaps the best place to head is to one of Amsterdam’s canals where you’ll find literally thousands of brightly decorated boats all packed into the narrow waters with streams of revellers dancing and drinking in celebration. Even the bridges are packed out on King’s Day – head to one to watch the boats slowly bustle by and join in the fun.

One thing you’ll notice when you’re there is the vast armies of orange-wearing people. Orange is of course the national colour and Amsterdammers don’t mind donning it when the occasion presents itself. You’ll find plenty of markets in the city selling costumes and orange Amsterdam t-shirts – in particular around Waterlooplein and Vondelpark,  just incase you find your wardrobe is bereft of the right colours. If you want to experience one of the huge concerts in the city then head to Museumplein or Rembrandtplein, though if you want something a little more chilled out, then head to the urban oasis of Vondelpark or to one of the (few) open museums which often put on special events.

King’s day isn’t limited to Amsterdam of course – just head to any of Holland’s city such as Rotterdam or Utrecht  and you are sure to find a party as well as lots and lots of orange.

Food and Wine Festivals

Food and Wine Festivals

Food and Wine festivals are great opportunities for foodies and wine lovers to experience a thrilling international gathering, all set on experiencing the finest fare and most colourful of personalities from the world of food and wine. The world is full of them – though England is a great place to explore with festivals like the Artisan Cheese Fair in Melton Mowbray, The London Coffee Festival and Eat Cambridge food festival right in the heart of historic Cambridge.

In history, these festivals were to celebrate the best picking of the season and in some cases to give thanks to Gods for high yields. But now, they are for the adventurous food and wine lovers, seeking out the finest local and international delicacies. Of course the kinds of foods you’ll be sampling depends heavily on where exactly you go – think traditional for Europe and a little more obscure in countries like America and in the smaller regions of England, so think carefully as the experiences on offer range from the glorious and famous, like San Francisco’s cavernous Street Food Festival, all the way to the more specialist like the Bugfest in North Carolina and the Garlic Festival on the Isle of Wight.

The festivals are all year round – though your best bets come in autumn and springtime – the latter especially as the weather is perfect for wandering through stalls sampling the assorted delicacies on offer. You’ll find stalls full of cheeses – hard and soft, goats and cow, wines from the cellars of the best and the biggest to the most obscure Vineyards from England, France, California and beyond, and meats that are aged to perfection.

If you’re in the UK are just visiting, we suggest taking a peak at these in 2014: The London Coffee Festival in April – where coffee addicts the world over gather at Brick Lane’s Old Truman Brewery to sample the very best of artisan blends and learn how to make their own perfect coffee’s at home; British Asparagus Festival in Vale of Evesham (Worcestershire) which as well as having plenty of fresh produce, also hosts several events such as the The Great Asparagus Run – where entrants run…with asparagus; and last but in no way least – the English Wine Week which lasts two weeks from the end of May to the beginning of June and is a vast celebration of English wine which takes place all over the south of England with  plenty of wine tastings and Vineyards to explore.

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