Every spring, Holland celebrates the community’s rich Dutch heritage and culture with the Tulip Time Festival. The main attraction is the festival’s namesake: the millions of tulips you will find planted in and around town. Tulip Time is one week in early May every year, but you usually have a month-long window between mid-April and mid-May to see the tulips in full bloom. It could vary in either direction depending on the weather – the warmer the weather the earlier the tulips pop and vice versa.
I took an adventure to Holland for this year’s festival, it is time to check out some of the places where I think you can find beautiful tulips of all varieties.
Window on the Waterfront
Just slightly off the beaten path is Window on the Waterfront along 6th Street, which one of the biggest tulip planting spots that also overlooks Windmill Island Gardens. It’s a popular spot for photographers as soon as the sun comes up due to few crowds.
As you walk through the rainbow of tulips, make sure to check out the grouping that surrounds the Cornelis and Geertje statue. In fact, you ought to climb up the statue for panoramic photo opportunities. You will find cards in stakes within the tulips detailing which type you are looking at.
Windmill Island Gardens
On the northern edge of town, you will find 36 acres of gardens with over 100,000 tulips planted and surrounded by dikes and canals. As you are walking amongst the tulips, the famed 250 year old working Dutch DeZwaan windmill will serve as a backdrop. It is the last windmill to leave the Netherlands in 1964 and is the only authentic, working Dutch windmill in the United States.
Snow drops, daffodils, hyacinths, pansies, and many other flowers can be found as you are walking Windmill Island Gardens. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children during Tulip Time. Make sure to grab some souvenirs from one of the historical, colorful Dutch buildings.
Tip: Get to Windmill Island Gardens earlier in the day to avoid parking issues and backups at the entrance. A good option is to hop onto a Tulip Time trolley (tour) for $30 in Centennial Park. You will learn about the history and main attractions of Holland. It will pass down tulip-lined streets, making several stops including Windmill Island Gardens.
Veldheer Tulip Gardens
A few miles north of downtown off US-31, Veldheer Tulip Gardens is the only tulip farm perennial garden in town. It has been open since 1929, with over five million tulips planted each year. Expansive fields with hundreds of varieties of tulips await. As you enter, paying the $10 entrance fee, you will get a guide book. Each set of tulips has a number associated with it which you can look up to get its name. Daffodils, hyacinths, and crocus will also be on display during the time of the festival. You’ll pass under windmills, over drawbridges and along canals and maybe even run into a cherry blossom tree or two.
As you exit, passing through the gift shop, you can also buy perennials and flowers of every kind imaginable from around the world to plant. Make sure to walk into the Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory where you can watch your very own set of wooden shoes be carved right in front of you.
The Tulips All Around Downtown
You don’t have to walk through gardens and large parks to get up close and personal with the tulips. Tulips will line the streets in single rows and be in large groupings at the corners of intersections. 8th Street, Holland’s to discover the six miles of tulips that line the streets of historic Holland and its neighborhoods. As you walk, just follow the white arrowed signs of Tulip Lane.
The colorful flowers of Spring will also sit alongside public attractions and throughout the small city parks, like Centennial Park, the heart of the Tulip Time Festival. Check out the groupings around the statue of Albertus Van Raalte and at the Dutch fountain in the center of the park.
What other places around Holland and in Michigan would you recommend for capturing the tulips of Spring?