Whoa. Now THIS is a party.
Every part of my body hurts as I type this. Somehow I think I managed to pick up tuberculosis, athlete's foot and Ebola all within a few blocks. And I've never felt better.
I've never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Full Moon Parties in Thailand, nor Carnival in Rio. But I can imagine that Amsterdam's Koninginnenacht/Koninginnedag (Queen's Night and the more officially recognized Queen's Day) is right up there.
First, the parties. The night before Queen's Day is loaded with house parties and concerts at various clubs. Things get going at about 7pm Thursday and end around 7am Friday.
Second, the canals. On Day 2 (the official holiday) you'll see hundreds of boats of all sizes, 90% of them complete with a DJ (and sound systems that would put most nightclubs to shame) and multiple beer kegs. People arise anywhere from 11am to 3pm (one friend failed to arise at all, missing the boat that he organized for some 20 people) to head out on these floating nightclubs.
Third, the streets. Each neighborhood and almost every street has a dance party happening right out on the cobblestones. It's mostly house and techno music of the oont-ss oont-ss variety, but with dozens of top DJs the sounds are smooth and the beats infectious. (One of the photos below shows a guy called DJ Dante spinning from his living room - his set was one of the best of the day). And there are pockets where more subtle music exists too (latino, jazz, etc).
Fourth, and most importantly, the people. I've never seen a happier mass of people anywhere. It's essentially a city-wide block party, and Amsterdammers and visitors alike seem to have shed any pent-up surliness that may have built up over a long winter. 700,000 visitors come to the city for the festivities each year.
It really is something to see - literally smiling faces everywhere. Mostly everyone is decked out in orange too, although some people contrasted that with their own shade of green as the day wore on.
Book your ticket and hotel room now for next year...
Not a popular boat with the ladies
Trust me, the view from the front was worse. Much worse.