Remember the old song “Tip Toe Through the Tulips with me”? Plan a spring trip to Holland, Michigan, during the Spring Tulip Time Festival, and do just that!
Each spring, the City of Holland is blanketed with hundreds of thousands of blooming tulips. A favorite display is shown above, including the authentic wooden windmill in the Windmill Island Gardens that rises above a breathtaking field of colorful tulips. The tulip gardens for this festival, including gardens planted by the town, businesses, and private homes, are the culmination of a year’s worth of planning, planting, and caring for the life cycle of this beautiful flower. You can watch a link to the town’s live Centennial Camera to see how the bulbs are growing and to join in on the excitement when they emerge each spring in the town’s Centennial Garden.
The 2023 Holland Michigan Tulip Festival, known as Tulip Time, is orchestrated each year with festivities happening over the first two weekends in May. This year’s events are on May 6, 2023 – May 14, 2023. You can check this link for information on all the festivities and events.
This is a very popular event, and why we are including some of our “Living Like a Local – Innsider Travel Tips” that are highlighted below for you to get the most out of this cherished event. The Tulip Time Festival does not occur in a gated, single location. Over eight days in May, events and activities occur in different locations, most within a 4-mile radius of Downtown Holland. Tulips can be seen for no charge in public parks and downtown streets.
Many independent attractions have tulips and events during the festival week and beyond. They have their own operating hours and ticket requirements. Learn more on the Area Attractions page! We are highlighting two of the not-to-miss missed stops including the popular Nelis’ Dutch Village, its endearing history, and the Veldheer Tulip Gardens.
Nelis’ Dutch Village and its History
Step back into the Netherlands of over 100 years ago, on a day when a festival came to town. Within this happy village, you’ll see beautiful gardens and a picturesque canal, Dutch Dancing, wooden shoe carving, rides, and plenty of options for dining and shopping. For more details, see http://www.dutchvillage.com.
Here is a summary of the Nelis’ families story:
- The story began in 1910 in Beverwijk, Netherlands, when a father asked his son to travel to the “land of opportunity” to search for some rich farmland to make a better life for their family.
Left to Right: Tess Nelis Fisher, Kay Nelis-VanBourgandineHarry Nelis, Jr., Wilhelmina “Min” Glass-Nelis, Dee Nelis-Walther,
Mary Nelis-Miller, Fred Nelis, Sr Photo credit: dutchvillage.com
- This young man, Harry Nelis, was only 17 and arrived at Ellis Island in October of 1910. Following his father’s instructions, he traveled to Missouri, purchased land, and began to grow vegetables. In September of 1911, the rest of the Nelis family, which included 11 siblings ranging in age from 6 months to 16 years, joined him. Growing vegetables proved unprofitable, so the family moved to Chicago for more opportunities.
- After working at various jobs for a few years, they heard about a settlement in Holland, Michigan, and decided to purchase 80 acres just north of the town in 1922.
- In the early years, the Nelis family grew vegetables to sell locally and frequently traveled to the Chicago produce markets. During the depression, the family switched from growing vegetables to the nursery business.
- And then the magic happened when a cousin in the “Old Country” asked the family to plant daffodils since he had run out of planting space. That single request dramatically changed the life of the Nelis family. They grew daffodils for a few years but soon added crops of tulips.
- By the late 1930s, the family’s tulip farm had become a “hot spot” for tourists flocking to Holland for the new Tulip Time Festival. As time passed, the tulip farm became increasingly popular, and a large windmill and souvenir shop were added. Soon Holland souvenirs were as popular as the tulip bulbs.
- The present location of Nelis’ Dutch Village was purchased in 1952 and began as a retail outlet for bulbs and souvenirs and later became Nelis’ Dutch Village.
- Currently, there are over 30 structures in the Dutch Village, with architecture representing different provinces in the Netherlands. Costumed klompen dancers, street organs, a carousel, carillon bells, heirloom quality gifts, souvenirs, and many other Dutch treats await our guests.
- Today, Nelis’ Dutch Village continues to be a family affair, and they continue to preserve the history and culture of the Netherlands for generations to come.
This year the Nelis’ Dutch Village opens on April 22, 2023. On-line tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.
Visit Veldheer Tulip Gardens
In 1950 Vern Veldheer started a hobby farm with only 100 red and 300 white tulips. Today, Veldheers plants over 5 million tulips! Perennials and flowers are brought in from around the world and are available for purchase. This is a perfect opportunity to purchase your spring flowers and witness a spectacular array of colorful tulips. Tickets to walk through the gardens are $15.
16 “Innsider Travel Tips” for your Tulip Time Festival Getaway
- This is a very popular event, and lodging fills up around the area. The Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association has two inns in Holland and many more in the surrounding towns. You can book your stay in advance.
- To experience a spectacular array of tulips with picture opportunities galore, visit the Windmill Island Gardens, only a 20-minute walk from downtown Holland. In 2023, the Gardens will be open from Saturday, April 15 through Sunday, October 1; admission is $12 for adults. During Tulip Time, food trucks are available for yummy meal options that you can enjoy in the gardens.
- Climb to the fourth-floor deck of the DeZwaan Windmill, the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States. While you are there, purchase some wheat flour and ground fresh cornmeal daily.
- As one of the most photographed lighthouses in Michigan, the Holland Harbor lighthouse is a “must-see” during your stay in Holland. Standing over 50 feet (15.24 m) tall, the Big Red Lighthouse is located on the west pier of Holland Harbor, with stunning views of Lake Michigan and the dunes.
- Check out the Tulip Lanes during the Tulip Time Festival. Many of the homes in Holland decorate their gardens and are organized in a 12-mile loop where you can see some of the quant neighborhoods in Holland. You’ll see over 250,000 tulips of curbside plantings!
- While visiting Holland during the Tulip Time Festival, be sure to stay a couple more days to enjoy the city! There are many fun opportunities, including boat rides, hiking, and enjoying the wonderful dining and shopping in this historic Michigan town.
- If you are in the area before the festival, visit Veldheer’s farms. They recommend visiting their colorful spring gardens during the last week in April until the middle of May. T
- Check out the Delft Factory. It’s Dutch pottery that takes almost a full week to produce! Here you’ll see over 400 different hand-painted Dutch pottery pieces.
- Stop by Centennial Park, which is ablaze with color, during the Tulip Time Festival. You’ll see a dutch fountain, beautiful gardens, and a scenic gazebo.
- Enjoy American and Dutch Cuisine at the Hungry Dutchman Cafe in the Neils’ Dutch Village.
- Enjoy a trolley ride in Riverview Park, also known as Window on the Waterfront. There’s also a 30-acre area along the marsh with walking/biking paths and cool overlooks.
- Experience one of the Tulip Time Parades. The Volksparade is a traditional Dutch march. First, the mayor, wearing ceremonial white gloves, inspects the cleanliness of the route. If the streets need scrubbing, you’ll see folks in traditional Dutch costumes bring out buckets and brooms for the spring cleaning needed for the parade to step off. After that, you’ll be treated to dozens of bands, community floats, and other entertainment. There’s also a Dutch dance performance just before the parade kick-off.
Muziek Parade, during the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Mi
Best Places to Stay During your Visit to Holland, Mi
As mentioned earlier, this is a very popular event that attracts thousands of visitors yearly. It’s important that you book your getaway accommodations early to make sure you have a comfortable home base to enjoy all of the festivities during the Tulip Time Festival. And what better way to stay is at a comfortable, quality-assured Michigan Bed and Breakfast in Holland. Our two-member inns in Holland, Mi are quite savvy at innkeeping and will have a wealth of information about the festival. Check out their details below:
The Inn at Old Orchard Road
Enjoy old fashion hospitality and creatively prepared multi-course dutch breakfasts at the Inn at Old Orchard Road. This 1906 Dutch farmhouse is in a quiet, green neighborhood just fifteen minutes from charming downtown Holland.
This quaint bed and breakfast includes three comfortable guest rooms on the second floor with queen beds, private baths with showers, cable TV, air conditioning, and WiFi.
Dutch Colonial Inn
The Dutch Colonial Inn is perfect for your Tulip Time Festival getaway. The charming innkeepers love what they do and love sharing their charming, quiet residential neighborhood with their guests with easy access to downtown festivities in Holland. Built as a wedding gift, this 1928 home has been restored and renovated as a perfect home base for your Michigan bed and breakfast getaway.
The inn offers four lovely guest rooms and suites with king- or queen-size sleeping accommodations and two-person Jacuzzi tubs. The fireplace adds to the wonderful ambiance in the suites, along with the inn’s elegance and charm.
Consider staying in a nearby town. You can check out other MBBA Southwest member inns here.
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