How busy is it in Amsterdam on King’s Day?

King’s Day is one of the most important national holidays in the Netherlands. Throughout the country, people organise King’s Day activities, such as street markets, festivals and King’s Night parties on the eve of King’s Day. This public holiday is also celebrated enthusiastically in our capital city. To ensure that King’s Day and all the associated activities are enjoyable and safe for participants, it is crucial for the emergency services, the local authority, transporters and local organisers to communicate and coordinate effectively.

New data sources

To aid this, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) has analysed crowd flow on King’s Day – how busy it is and where the visitors come from – with the help of anonymised mobile telephone data. This analysis can help administrators gain a better understanding of how such a day progresses and the way in which resources can be deployed efficiently to ensure that King’s Day goes well.

Telephone data

A data set from the company Mezuro was used for this analysis. This company specialises in processing and analysing large volumes of telephone data originating from the Vodafone mobile network. Mezuro converts this data into socially valuable information on the mobility of individuals and groups of people. CBS is cooperating closely with Mezuro to translate these anonymised telephone data into official statistics. When mobile phones call or send text messages or data, a signal is sent via transmission masts to a central computer. Mezuro uses these signals to establish where those mobile phones are located. These signals are of course anonymous, and all references to individuals have been removed.

Numbers of people

As a case study, an analysis was done of how busy it is on King’s Day both in Amsterdam-Centre (the innermost, central borough of Amsterdam) and in the greater Amsterdam area. The crowds on King’s Day 2018 were compared with the numbers of people on three other days in April. The weather also has an influence on how busy a city is on a particular day. For this reason, days with similar weather were compared. The days that were compared in this case study were:

  • Sunday, 8 April 2018: this was a random Sunday with weather comparable to that of King’s Day;
  • Friday, 13 April 2018: this was a normal working day with weather comparable to that of King’s Day;
  • Thursday, 26 April 2018: this was the working day before King’s Day, which therefore also partly included King’s Night;
  • Friday, 27 April 2018: this was King’s Day.

King’s Day is celebrated in different parts of Amsterdam. The following graphs show the distribution of crowd levels over the course of King’s Day and the three reference days chosen. They also make it clear whether a person is a resident or a visitor. The following applies to all the graphs: the horizontal axis shows the hours of the day and the vertical axis the absolute number of people.

Figure 1

Residents and visitors present in Amsterdam on Friday, 27 April 2018 (King’s Day)
Row LabelsResidentsVisitors
Midnight76405988672
1 AM76488189161
2 AM76536582845
3 AM76471276549
4 AM76264770775
5 AM75983866405
6 AM75940864449
7 AM76393166785
8 AM78309475286
9 AM79339990892
10 AM790519115342
11 AM785292148521
Noon782126199814
1 PM779164255590
2 PM774692298458
3 PM769305318561
4 PM754723314571
5 PM737383304717
6 PM732868289378
7 PM735212261871
8 PM743088224992
9 PM745591172994
10 PM747996130456
11 PM753426100349
Source: CBS, Mezuro

Figure 2

Residents and visitors present in Amsterdam-Centre on Friday, 27 April 2018 (King’s Day)
Row LabelsResidentsVisitors
Midnight63582105153
1 AM62886102336
2 AM6326582331
3 AM6341963585
4 AM6335747693
5 AM6316435003
6 AM6317027792
7 AM6318226866
8 AM6357730190
9 AM6304237434
10 AM6113652378
11 AM5910173575
Noon57539105749
1 PM56412151224
2 PM55639200577
3 PM55615237382
4 PM55348253109
5 PM55220251425
6 PM55875236953
7 PM57050208810
8 PM58080178702
9 PM59374144191
10 PM60686110921
11 PM6216383421
Source: CBS, Mezuro

Figure 1 shows all those who were present (both visitors and residents) in Amsterdam on King’s Day and Figure 2 represents Amsterdam-Centre.
The graphs show that King’s Day attracts a great many visitors to Amsterdam, and especially to Amsterdam-Centre. The busiest time of the day is between 15:00 and 16:00. In that period, there are 1.1 million people in Amsterdam (Figure 1). This group is made up of 319,000 visitors from outside Amsterdam and 769,000 residents of Amsterdam. At this peak time, there are 308,000 people in Amsterdam-Centre (Figure 2).

Figure 3

Visitors in Amsterdam-Centre per hour
Row Labelsa normal Sundaythe working day before King’s Daya working dayKing’s Day
Midnight410571945217451105153
1 AM410002005216215102336
2 AM35067175761401282331
3 AM28579152601285763585
4 AM21954126931199347693
5 AM16630110791230435003
6 AM14257154801748027792
7 AM14735256712946026866
8 AM16670542526053930190
9 AM22593838309178337434
10 AM3233310102810903652378
11 AM4374411109512041873575
Noon55610117855128014105749
1 PM67597120955132059151224
2 PM75746122513133108200577
3 PM78695119670129623237382
4 PM75647112260120494253109
5 PM67464104073110645251425
6 PM580529478697227236953
7 PM490288693490178208810
8 PM400638145791752178702
9 PM325847709398917144191
10 PM2409670911106967110921
11 PM180825921411216983421
Source: CBS, Mezuro

Figure 3 compares visitor numbers on King’s Day with those of the three reference days. On the day before King’s Day (which in this case was a working day), many visitors are attracted to Amsterdam-Centre from 20:00. We see in Figure 3 that there are some 75,000 more visitors in the centre than on an ordinary working day (the mixed light-blue/orange line). It seems that these visitors continue to party at night during the King’s Day celebrations. However, the number of people declines to ‘normal’ levels (the orange line) at around 4:00 – 6:00 in the morning, so the majority of visitors do not ultimately stay in Amsterdam-Centre. But do they perhaps stay in the greater Amsterdam area during the night?

Figure 4

Visitors per hour in Amsterdam per hour
Row Labelsa normal Sundaythe working day before King’s Daya working dayKing’s Day
Midnight57113326513106888672
1 AM57137345303137089161
2 AM49157322733038682845
3 AM44805311033097076549
4 AM41446307103212270775
5 AM40225342543829566405
6 AM40131627257060264449
7 AM4269511879013919066785
8 AM4934621290424928375286
9 AM6574229111233745890892
10 AM89114327381378814115342
11 AM111021342445397348148521
Noon130121346136403569199814
1 PM146145344351401276255590
2 PM158475335485392868298458
3 PM177159313371367199318561
4 PM183576270476315249314571
5 PM168092220040251903304717
6 PM149365166391181994289378
7 PM111100138301143722261871
8 PM79084123381129114224992
9 PM61030112418120728172994
10 PM4677798417112471130456
11 PM3584176675104561100349
Source: CBS, Mezuro

Figure 4 compares King’s Day with the three reference days, but in this case for the greater Amsterdam area (instead of Amsterdam-Centre, as in Figure 3). Compared with a ‘normal’ Sunday (the light blue line), each year King’s Day (the orange line) attracts around 40,000 more visitors during the night.
Figure 4 also shows that the total number of visitors in Amsterdam on King’s Day is fairly comparable with visitor numbers on a normal working day, but that these numbers are distributed differently over time.