The Amsterdam Tulip Festival is an event beyond imagination!
The Netherlands is known as the land of flowers and every year Amsterdam celebrates the arrival of the tulip season with the Amsterdam tulip festival that begins at the end of March and lasts until the middle of May, which is the best period of time to see tulips in Holland.
Every year, more than a million visitors flood Amsterdam to wander the streets of the city and enjoy the beauty of flowering tulips on display at more than 85 locations in the city center. These locations include gardens of the city’s museums, hotels and notable buildings in the city center.
During the Tulip Festival there are many flower events and attractions. Some of the most popular attractions are the Dutch Flower Parade, touring the tulip fields and visiting the Keukenhof Gardens.
Seeing the tulip fields in Holland are one of the highlights of the spring but the blooming time is dependent on the weather conditions in late winter and early spring. If your visit is too early then the colorful field may not be in full bloom and if your visit is too late then the flowers may already be harvested.
Visiting Keukenhof Gardens
The Keukenhof Gardens are probably the main attraction during the festival and the gardens will be beautiful from the beginning of the festival all of the way to the end. I have chosen to make the Keukenhoff Gardens the primary focus of this post because Keukenhoof Gardens is the top attraction of the festival and the gardens are almost as sure thing for seeing more tulips than a person can ever imagine.
The Keukenhof Gardens are the world’s largest flower gardens covering an area of 79 acres. The garden was opened in 1949 to display the flower produce of the Netherlands and is located in the town of Lisse in the region of Bollenstreed about 40 minutes from Amsterdam.
Each year over 7 million flower bulbs are planted by hand in the autumn and in the spring over 800 different species of tulips come into bloom. Tulips are short-lived and last for only around a week. The gardeners plant the bulbs in layers to ensure the gardens are beautiful throughout the entire festival. The bulbs are planted using the lasagna method, a technique where the bulbs that bloom early in March are planted at the top, followed by the bulbs that take a longer time to bloom.
Within the gardens there are large displays of landscaped flower beds that are designed to create a picture using different colors of flowers. These displays are so large that I was not able to get the entire picture within my photo but the photos below provide an idea of the technique used.
Flowers grouped by color
Other places in the garden are laid out in sections of similar colored tulip sections that resemble small versions of the tulip field that can be seen throughout Holland.
Sculptures in the gardens
All of the best gardens that I have visited have had sculptures scattered around the garden that helped to accent the flower displays. The Keukenhof Gardens also has sculptures in key locations of the garden but many of the sculptures are not permanent displays. The sculptures here are created by artists who want to display their works.
Ponds, fountains and walking trails
Another feature that is common to most large gardens are ponds and fountains. The ponds at Keukenhof Gardens are large enough to have stepping platforms and bridges for crossing the pond. The fountains are a nice accent to make the area more like a park than a garden.
Many of the walking trails are lined with displays of tulips and some spots have benches to allow people to sit and relax while enjoying the beauty of the colorful arrangements.
Tulips of all shapes, sizes and colors
As mentioned before there are over 800 species of tulips on display and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some tulips are short while other grow much taller. This difference in heights is used to create displays features more than one type of tulip in the same flower bed.
As you can imagine, with over 7 million tulips blooming in the garden the biggest attraction is the rainbow of colors that is everywhere in the garden. It is impossible to show photos of all the varieties of tulips but the following photos are an example of the many colors of tulips that can be seen while walking through the garden.
Most times when I travel, I encounter things that surprise me and the Keukenhof Gardens was no exception. Admittedly, I am not very knowledgeable in flowers and my main interest in them are because they are pretty but I thought all tulips had smooth petals. To my surprise, some variety of tulips have petals that look frayed. Some examples of this type of tulip are shown in the next few photos.
Two of the qualities that Holland is most famous for are windmill and tulips so I felt it is appropriate to end this post with a photo featuring a windmill surrounded by tulips.
The Dust on My Shoes
Seeing the Amsterdam Tulip Festival had been on my travel wish list for many years. My trip to Europe was during the middle of the tulip season and I did not arrive in Amsterdam until the second week of May. I was a little worried that I may arrive too late to see a spectacular display of tulips. Some of the tulip fields had already been harvested but there were still some colorful tulip fields.
Visiting the Keukenhof Gardens was spectacular! My experience at the gardens greatly exceeded my expectations. The colorful displays of tulips kept going on and on like nothing I had ever seen in any of the other gardens that I have visited. It is hard to imagine that visiting a garden could turn into a “wow” experience but there is no other way to describe the Keukenhof Gardens except by saying “wow”.
To say that the Keukenhof Gardens is popular is an understatement. The gardens are open for about 7 weeks during the tulip season and over 1 million people will come to the garden during that period. They are open from 8 AM to 7:30 PM every day. My recommendation is to buy your ticket online and arrive slightly before they open so that you can enjoy the garden for a couple of hours before the crowds start to become noticeable.
We were one of the first people to enter the garden when we visited and we felt like we had the park to ourselves for a while and then we started to notice more and more people. When we left, there was a long line of people trying to enter and the parking lot was full.
When visiting popular events, it is hard to expect anything except crowds but there may be some events or times of day where the crowds are smaller. Try to find the places where the crowds are smaller and your experience may be much better!