Sven | Aug 14, 2019
The very first Tulip Time Festival took place 90 years ago in 1929. The idea of the festival was introduced by Lida Rogers to her Women’s Literary Club; she suggested tulips due to their prevalence in the Netherlands. The festival has since shaped itself into a celebration of Dutch traditions. The iconic Klompen Dancers made their debut in 1933 when a high school gym teacher named Ether Perry taught 12 people to clog dance. Since then, there have been around 1,400 Klompen Dancers in the streets of Holland, Michigan.
The 2019 Tulip Time Festival took place from May 4th – 12th. However, a few events start a little early. The Dutch dancing begins on the second and the carnival on the third.
Tulip Time spans nearly the first two weeks of May. The timing lines up with the tulips’ peak season. As a result, there are so many things to do! Here are some of the attractions you’ll have to see:
Dutch Tradition: The festival features everyday Dutch traditions such as a Dutch marketplace, dancing performances, and culinary experiences. The Dutch market is at the heart of the festival. There are so many things to see, smell, and taste. It is the perfect place to pick up a few snacks and souvenirs.
Klompen Dancers: The Klompen Dancers are basically like a flash mob of people dressed in traditional Dutch clothing and wooden clogs. Well, a flash mob on a schedule. The dancers appear multiple times a day to dance in the streets of Holland for 15-minute increments.
Klompen Lessons: If the dancers delight you enough, you even have the opportunity to jump in after their performance to learn a few Klompen dance moves of your own.
Carnival: The carnival is another event that takes place every day of the festival. Purchase tickets to exchange for games and rides! Aside from the games and rides, one great part of the carnival is the bleachers. Seriously! There are not many seating areas at the festival, take advantage of the bleachers near the carnival to have a little rest and recharge.
Tulip City Tour: Take a guided city bus tour of the Tulip Lanes and Historic Holland. Your driver will be clad in traditional Dutch garments and full of knowledge about Holland, Michigan. You can take a tour at any time and day between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Art in Bloom: Art in Bloom is an annual art competition. All of the entrants’ art hangs in a gallery waiting to be voted for the Viewer’s Choice Award. The tulip themed artwork created by local artists hangs in the Holland Area Art. The gallery is open every day, but only for a few hours at a time. Make sure to check hours on the days of your trip!
Yoga in the Tulips: There are four opportunities during the festival to participate in a 60-minute, guided yoga session.
The best part of the Tulip Time Festival is the scenery. Holland offers a beautiful landscape. The tulips line the streets leading to down to the festival with color. Once you make it to the edge of town, walk around Lake Macatawa and find rainbow gardens of tulips. Windmill Island harbors 250+-year-old De Zwaan — the only active Dutch windmill in the country.
My trip to the Tulip Time Festival took place in 2016. My then-boyfriend surprised me with the perfect engagement ring on the first day of our trip. We spent the rest of our long weekend newly betrothed, admiring the beauty of Holland.
We walked from our hotel to downtown Holland. Our path was guided by tulips lining the road to the festival. After meandering our way through the marketplace, we discovered our favorite aspect of the Tulip Time Festival — the fields of tulips!
The history and festivities were enjoyable as well, but we came to see tulips — and Holland delivered! The vibrant colors blanketing the waterfront of Lake Macatawa reflected our bliss as a newly engaged couple. We could not get enough of the tulips and spent most of our time surrounded by their bright exuberance. Holland, Michigan is a beautiful destination, and the Tulip Time festival is the perfect time to pay it a visit.
Jessalyn has always loved writing and visiting new places. A few of her other favorite things include hanging out with her cats, watching true crime documentaries, and playing roller derby.