You can’t fool Mother Nature, but she can fool millions of tulips into blooming well ahead of their usual schedule in Holland, near the Lake Michigan shore.
The mild winter and early springtime weather forced the colorful blooms out of the ground before some of the town’s Dutch-themed attractions opened for the season, which would normally have coincided with the Tulip Time Festival, May 5-12.
The annual celebration popped up in 1929 as a way to recognize the Dutch heritage of the community.
Come Early for the Tulips, Come Again for the Festival
There’s plenty of color in the tulip beds now, and to take advantage of this year’s early flower show the local tourism community is encouraging visitors to “Come Early for the Tulips, Come Again for the Festival” by, in the case of some attractions, opening early and offering special deals and lodging rates on select dates through April; check them out at Holland.org.
This Saturday, April 21 is the annual Groove Walk, with live music at 11 venues from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Admission is by $10 wristband ($15 on Saturday).
The Tulip Time festivities will go on as scheduled May 5-12, when the streets are filled with 1,100 costumed, wooden-shoed dancers and three parades:
- Traditional street scrubbing by costumed youths with broad brooms begins at 1:15 p.m., preceding the People’s Volksparade at 2 p.m., Wednesday, May 9
- Thousands of school children march in the Kinderparade, 2 p.m., Thursday, May 10
- Over 150 units participate in the grand finale, the Muziekparade, at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 12
Tulip Time Run: 1K Fun Run, 5K and 10K runs, Saturday, May 5
Vintage Base Ball: Douglas Dutchers vs. Ludington Mariners Old Time BBC, 2 p.m., Saturday, May 5
Fireworks: Live music begins at 6:30 p.m. and follows the night sky show, Saturday, May 5
Quilt Show: More than 100 pieces by local quilters on display, May 5-12
Dutch Marktplaats: Traditional food, costumes, dancing, wooden shoe carving demos and shopping, May 8-12
Bier Tuin: Refreshments include local brews and wine, May 9-12
Throughout the week there are concerts, two carnivals—one geared to kiddies—and a Taste of Holland luncheon Friday, May 11 featuring Rivel Soup, Nederlandse Zuurkool, Dutch meatballs and apple cake.
Allow time for The Holland Museum, housed in a beautiful former post office building. There’s an interesting local history exhibit and fine collection of art in the Dutch Galleries. Learn about the tulip in the exhibit, “Before the Festival: The Improbable Journey of Holland’s Favorite Flower” through September 2.
There are lots of nice shops to browse in Downtown Holland. Be sure to stop at New Holland Brewing Company and ask for the seasonal Black Tulip Tripel Ale.
If you can’t see ’em, sip ’em.
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