Awesome Mitten’s Guide to Michigan’s Holland Tulip Festival
If you’re looking to celebrate spring in Michigan and see beautiful flowers, there’s no better place to do that than the Tulip Time Festival in Holland Michigan.
For many Michiganders, there’s no surer sign of the arrival of spring than the blooming of flowers. The Mitten State is home to some truly beautiful areas that showcase the most colorful flowers to help usher in sunshine and spring in Michigan.
The 2023 Tulip Time Festival is May 6-14, 2023.
On Michigan’s west side, in Holland, you’ll discover a wondrous festival packed with color, entertainment, and fun. Holland is well-known for its Dutch heritage and the Tulip Time Festival has been an annual event there each May since 1929.
Every spring, Holland Michigan celebrates the community’s rich Dutch heritage and culture with the Holland Michigan Tulip Festival.
The main attraction of the tulip festival Holland Michigan hosts is its namesake: the millions of tulips you will find planted in and around Holland Michigan.
Tulip Time is one of the best things to do in Holland Michigan and while the official event only runs for one week in early May every year, you usually have a month-long window between mid-April and mid-May to see the tulips in Holland Michigan 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.
The History of the Holland Tulip Festival
The idea of a tulip festival in Holland Michigan was first discussed at a literary club meeting where a teacher suggested Holland adopt the tulip as its flower due to its ties to the Netherlands.
In 1928, local government officials paved the way for the purchase of 100,000 tulip bulbs directly from the Netherlands. Those bulbs were planted and paved the way for the annual flower festival, especially once the tulips bloomed in 1929.
That same year, it was decided to make the Holland tulip festival an annual event, allowing for the revival of customs and traditions from the Netherlands. The festival was interrupted by World War II but resumed in 1946 with a four-day festival.
Over the years, the festival has grown into its current eight-day iteration, which includes fun activities for attendees of all ages. In the 1960s and 70s, the festival was discovered by other towns and became a popular destination for group and package bus tours. The 1976 festival even featured an appearance by President Gerald Ford.
Tulip Time Festival Activities
So what makes the Tulip Time Festival such an attraction each year? The answer is simple: it’s always growing.
Festival organizers continue to add events and activities or upgrade events and activities to appeal to kids and adults alike. In fact, it’s been named by Readers Digest as the “Best Small Town Festival in America.”
The Holland tulip festival provides entertainment that includes trolley tours, an arts and crafts fair, concerts, parades, a Klompen Dance, Kinderplaats, and even a town crier competition.
Klompen dancers perform a traditional Dutch dance in traditional Dutch costumes. Each Dutch costume is handmade and carefully inspected before it can be worn.
During the festival, these Dutch dances take place about every 15 minutes and dancers can be easily identified by their customers and wooden shoes.
Tulip Time Parades
One of the most popular tulip activities is watching the parades. There are two different parades that take place: the kinderparade and the volksparade.
- The kinderparade features elementary schoolers and teachers parading in Dutch costumes.
- The volsparade sees hundreds of dignitaries and residents dressed in Dutch costumes cleaning the streets with pails and brooms to scrub the streets. The cleaning is done to pave the way for bands, floats, and other entertainment pieces to roll down the city streets.
The parade is watched by hundreds of people every year, so if you plan on watching, make sure to save your seats. You can set up at 6 a.m. on parade day and you can put down a blanket or a chair to claim your spot.
Tulip Time Festival Carnival
Not to be outdone, the Tulip Time Festival carnival is also worth a visit. Year in and year out, visitors flock to the carnival for its food, attractions, and rides. This is the perfect way to spend an evening with family, zipping, whipping, whirling, and zooming around.
Tulip Time Run
Of course, what would a festival be without a little exercise? Another well-attended festival event is the Tulip Time Run, which features a 5K, a 10K, and a fun run for kids.
Tulip Walking Tours
If you really want a unique experience during the Holland tulip festival, you can pay a small fee to do a Tulip Time walking tour. You’ll see plenty of amazing tulip vistas and learn about Holland and its Dutch heritage during the two-mile tour.
You can also do a VIP tour, where a costumed guide shows you the sights and you’ve got access to a reception that includes hors-d’oeuvres.
If you love photography, you can also sign up for the Tulip Time Photo Walk, where experienced photographers will guide you to the best spots where you can get a boatload of great tulip photos of your own.
More information on this year’s Holland Michigan Tulip Time Festival and its events can be found on Facebook and the Tulip Time website.
Where to See Tulips in Holland Michigan
After visiting the Holland Michigan tulip festival, we think these are some of the best places to see tulips in Holland Michigan before, during, and after the Tulip Time Festival.
Window on the Waterfront
Just slightly off the beaten path is Window on the Waterfront along 6th Street in Holland Michigan, which is 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.
Holland’s 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 thousands of 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.
Snowdrops, daffodils, hyacinths, pansies, and many other flowers can be found as you are walking Windmill Island Gardens. There is an admission fee, and guests are recommended to allow at least 3 hours to enjoy the grounds during the festival.
Make sure to grab some souvenirs from one of the historical, colorful Dutch buildings.
Pro tip: Get to Windmill Island Gardens early in the day to avoid parking issues and backups at the entrance.
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 beautiful tulips planted each year. Expansive fields with hundreds of varieties of tulips await.
As you enter, paying the entrance fee, you will get a guidebook. Each set of colorful 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 a drawbridge, along canals, and maybe even run into a cherry blossom tree or two, as you enjoy the many acres of tulips.
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, including Holland tulip bulbs.
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 at the wooden shoe factory.
Tulips in Downtown Holland
You don’t have to walk through gardens and large parks to get up close and personal with the tulips. Tulips will line the downtown 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 in bloom 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 of tulip displays around the statue of Albertus Van Raalte and at the Dutch fountain in the center of the park.
Nelis’ Dutch Village
One of the best places to see tulips is at Nelis’ Dutch Village. More than 35,000 bulbs are planted for the festival each year and more than 100 varieties of tulips are throughout the theme park.
Visitors can see tulips around the outside of the park, but to really get the full experience, visitors are advised to come into the park. There’s a petting zoo for the kids, a Ferris wheel, and other rides, and you can even get yourself a pair of the wooden shoes the Dutch dancers wear.
Authentic costumes and wooden shoes, Dutch architecture, flowering gardens, windmills, canals, and more will greet you in this unique thing to do in Holland Michigan.
If you want to enjoy an immersive journey into Dutch heritage, be sure to visit Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland. A visit to this Holland Michigan amusement park will have you stepping back in time over one hundred years to when the Dutch first came from the Netherlands to Holland Michigan.
More Spring Blooms Around Town
There are lots of fun activities to enjoy and experience during the Tulip Time festival, but you won’t want to miss the festival’s crown jewel: the tulip.
One of the best things about the tulip festival is that these beautiful flowers aren’t just limited to one park or one street. There are millions of bulbs across town and you can actually see six miles of tulip lanes lining the streets of Holland.
If you’re looking for other good spots to see tulips, be sure to visit Riverview Park and Kollen Park.
Bottom line: if you want to see tulips while you’re bopping around Holland at festival time, you don’t need to go far.
More to Know Before You Go to the Tulip Festival in Holland Michigan
How Long Does Tulip Time Last?
Tulip Time officially lasts for eight days each year, but tulips can generally be seen and enjoyed throughout Holland for several weeks before and after the festival, depending on that year’s weather. The official 2023 Tulip Time dates are May 6-14, 2023.
Where is Tulip Time?
The Holland tulip festival is not a single-location event but takes place across the city. Most activities and attractions are within a 4-mile radius of downtown Holland.
How Much Does Tulip Time Cost?
No tickets are needed to visit Holland, explore and experience the area, making it free to experience the general festival. Tulips can be seen for no charge in public parks and along downtown streets. Some of the individual activities, shows, and attractions have fees associated with participation, and that information can be found here.
Where Can I Park at the Tulip Time Festival?
With any festival, including the Tulip Time Festival, it helps to know where to park. A parking map is available, but a good tip is to grab the first spot you can find and stick with it. Plan on parking and walking, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Where Can I Stay During Holland’s Tulip Festival?
During the Tulip Time Festival, it pays to be as close to the action as possible. If you want a more traditional camping experience during the festival, stay at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds, which has space for tents, RVs, and trailers as well as modern bathroom facilities.
If you want a traditional Holland Michigan hotel experience, there are several options in and around Holland. The Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Holland offers an on-site destination for breakfast, working spaces, and free Wi-Fi.
The CityFlats Hotel also offers modern hospitality needs, including a coffee area and a lounge. If you want to take in the atmosphere before attending the festival, check out the hotel’s outdoor patio.
Are There Any Good Restaurants in Holland Michigan?
With so many events going on during the festival, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to work up an appetite. There are a number of delicious dining options at local Holland restaurants where you can enjoy a great meal after a day of fun.
- Boatwerks offers an amazing waterfront view, a nautical atmosphere (the restaurant replicates an old boat building factory), and quality American food.
- Our Brewing Company offers the perfect spot for a brew, especially if you’re looking for craft beer made with local ingredients.
- King’s Cove Deli is a great spot to get a specialty pizza or a homemade sandwich, like a tuna melt or a Ruben.
- The Curragh in downtown Holland is a traditional Irish pub that offers a mix of Irish and American food. It also offers takeaway, family-style meals that you can take with you if you’re on the go.
And you can always grab a drink with friends after a day enjoying the festival at one of the best Holland breweries or wineries.
Beyond the Tulips in Holland Michigan
There’s plenty to see and do at this annual Holland tulip festival, but there’s a lot more to Holland than just flowers.
- Tunnel Park offers access to the Lake Michigan beachfront via a concrete tunnel that cuts right through a sand dune.
- The Holland Princess, a Victorian-style paddle-wheel boat, is one of Holland’s newest attractions and offers public and private cruises to see nature, homes, and historic landmarks.
- The Holland Museum offers visitors a look at the city’s rich history, including the settlement of the city by the Dutch, the birth of the Holland tulip festival, and all kinds of factoids about Dutch culture.
- The Holland Aquatic Center is an indoor waterpark, offering family fun in the form of water slides, water cannons, a diving pool, and water toys.
- The BAM Entertainment Center is a one-stop-shop for family fun. Here you’ll find laser tag, bowling, an arcade, escape rooms, and rope courses, among other things.
Other fun activities and attractions in Holland and the surrounding area include:
- The Cappon and Settlers Houses in Holland
- The DeGraaf Nature Center
- The Holland Bowl Mill
- Windmill Island Gardens
- Saugatuck Boat Cruises
- Saugatuck Dune Rides
- Fenn Valley Vineyards
Enjoy Holland Michigan This Spring
The Tulip Time Festival is a great way to welcome spring, so if you want to see beautiful flowers, have some fun, and rid yourself of cabin fever and the winter blues, make plans to head to West Michigan this spring for this annual tulip festival.
Thanks to Aaron Cruz for his contributions to this article.