The Fred’s Koninginnedag Makeover

Today, the day after Koninginnedag (Queen’s Day), I thought it might be fun to do a little ‘before’ and ‘after’.

As I’ve mentioned before, I live around the corner from the Frederik Hendriklaan.

The ‘Fred’ as it’s lovingly referred to, is a stretch of several blocks of the greatest mix of everyday and unusual stores, shops, boutiques, cafes and eateries imaginable.

I do my grocery shopping there at my beloved Albert Heijn, run my errands up and down the Fred. One afternoon’s errands might take me to the hardware store for lightbulbs and to have a copy of our housekey made, then on to two drugstores and a couple housewares shops for the best prices on cosmetic items and various cleaning products.

I’ll swing by the photo shop to pick up some photo prints I was having made, then choose one of three wine shops (all on the same block!) to check out their specials. If it’s a special occasion, I might stop in the best butcher’s shop in The Hague for a special cut of meat, then duck into any of several delicious bakeries and pastry shops for an amazing dessert.

That doesn’t even begin to address the multiple bookstores (four at last count), clothing stores, novelty shops, cafes, lunchrooms and restaurants.

This is what the Fred looks like on a regular day. Take a look at the banner photo, it changes every two seconds; the rotating shots will give you a sense of what the Fred is like.

Here’s what the eastern end of the Fred looked like yesterday on Koninginnedag, in honor of Queen Beatrix’s birthday:


You can see that the National yard sale in action that Invader Stu mentioned in his infamous Koninginnedag post featured here yesterday.

The crush was even greater on the western end of the Fred, where the crowded conditions reduced picture-taking to a shot of the back of the person directly in front of me.

Samuel Johnson is credited with writing that remarriage is ‘the triumph of hope over experience’.

I beg to differ. 

The correct wording should be ‘a Dutch yard sale is the triumph of hope over experience’, because based on what I saw for sale yesterday and how much people were asking for these items, 99.99% was getting hauled back home at the end of the day. 

It’s a good thing so many sellers mixed in a few Heineken or Grolsch beers among their daylong beverage consumption; they needed a relaxed, ‘oh well’ attitude to fortify themselves while packing up everything they didn’t sell.

Let me give a few examples:

Selling a deluxe six-piece set of cheek bronzers and blushers in varying shades? Fine. But in which every piece has already been opened? And used?? I don’t think so.

Virtually every blanket on which the odds and ends and detritus were displayed included some of the ugliest vases and knickknacks known to man.

No one liked them in the first time when they received them as gifts (surely no one would have picked them out for themselves!), and no one liked them now. They didn’t sell, won’t ever sell, and so will be going home with their current owners.

Clothing. Sigh… Here’s a hint: when you have heaps and heaps of clothes for sale, very few people will take the time and effort to go through them, looking for that one ‘gem’. Ditto overpricing said clothing. And if you don’t like it because it isn’t fashionable or trendy anymore, well, neither will anyone else.

The only stall I saw actually selling any items of clothing had been selective: they brought a smaller number of items that people would want, in excellent condition, laid out neatly, and priced at 25 cents each.

So while exceedingly popular, the Koninginnedag yard sale concept still seems to be a work in progress.

But no worries.

There was plenty of music, food, beverages and sweets.

There were games and a couple carnival rides and tarot card reading.

The sun was shining, the people were out, and a good time was being had by all.

Last night’s Koninginnenacht (essentially Queen’s Day Eve) saw great bands playing jazz, rock, blues and everything in between at a variety of venues in downtown The Hague. Carnival rides drew families with children, and of course the ever-present ‘walking tweeners’ – too old to remain willingly by their parents sides, too young to mix in with the older crowds. Park trees were festooned in white lights, people dressed in orange wackiness, and waffles and frites were consumed along with copius amounts of beer.

Tonight will be a repeat, only more so. It’s Queen’s Day Night!


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