Tulip Time in Holland Michigan

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With spring quickly approaching in the Midwest, there’s no better way to celebrate than to attend Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan. In May of this year, Tulip Time celebrations will be in full force and the whole town will be adorned in blooming tulips, drawing tourists from all over the world.

Last year, 600,000 people visited Holland, not only to enjoy the colorful tulips but to attend the lively carnival, watch the traditional Dutch parades, and explore all the charming Dutch shops that line the streets. My favorite thing to do is sample the wide array of cheeses, which isn’t far off from what I experienced in Delft, the Netherlands.

If you can’t book a trip to the Netherlands this year, a visit to Holland, Michigan is the next best thing. Read on for our guide to experiencing the best of Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan.

A Little About Holland, Michigan

Tulips in Holland, MI. Photo by Isabella Miller
Tulips in Holland, MI. Photo by Isabella Miller

Located on the East coast of Lake Michigan (and the west side of the state), about two and a half hours from Chicago is the quaint town of Holland, aptly named after the country where most of its inhabitants’ ancestors immigrated from in the mid-1800s. Its Dutch heritage is evident in the town’s architecture, stores, and traditions.

Downtown Holland is vibrant and walkable with dozens of boutique shops, restaurants, and art galleries. The streets are decorated with windmills, tulip-shaped street lights, and Dutch-style buildings. There are several events held each year including the Farmer’s Market, the Street Performer Series and the Valkenburg Christmas Market and Parade.

Holland State Park

Big red lighthouse in Holland Michigan State Park. Photo by Vito Palmisano
Big red lighthouse in Holland Michigan State Park. Photo by Vito Palmisano

Located on Lake Michigan’s coast, lies Holland State Park, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and beach-goers. Embark on unforgettable dune hikes and exhilarating bike rides amidst breathtaking views that await at every turn. There are plenty of spots for picnicking, camping and of course, swimming if you aren’t afraid of chilly water.

With spring blooming and the days lengthening, you can expect temperatures between the 50s and 70s. Michigan is known for its fickle weather, so it can be difficult to predict some days. But usually, by May you can count on some warm weather.

Read More: Traveling to New Heights in Traverse City, Michigan

Holland Tulip Time Festival

Tulip Time Festival dancers perform a mother-daughter dance in Holland, MI. Photo by smontgom65
Tulip Time Festival dancers perform a mother-daughter dance in Holland, MI. Photo by smontgom65

Just like the Netherlands, Holland, Michigan takes its flowers seriously. Each year, over six million tulips bloom throughout the town, decorating the parks and streets with every color imaginable. Visitors can enjoy traditional Dutch dancing, music, and street scrubbing ceremonies.

What on Earth is a street scrubbing ceremony? This is when participants dress in traditional Dutch costumes and literally clean the streets with brushes and buckets of water. In the Netherlands, it was common for people to volunteer to clean the streets in anticipation of visiting royalty or any number of special occasions. With music and dancing, this strange event is a lively way to kick off the festival.

This year (2024), the festival will be held between May 2nd and May 12th. View events.

Tulip Time Festival Parade

Woman and children wearing traditional dutch clothing surrounded by tulip flowers, riding a trailer at the Muziek Parade, during the Tulip Time Festival. Photo by Roberto Galan
Woman and children wearing traditional Dutch clothing surrounded by tulip flowers, riding a trailer at the Muziek Parade, during the Tulip Time Festival. Photo by Roberto Galan

The Tulip Time Festival Parade (also known as the Volksparade) is the highlight of Tulip Time, all dedicated to a colorful welcoming of Spring, Dutch-style. Dutch dancers, who consist of local school children and community groups, practice for months in preparation for their performance usually in wooden shoes (which makes it all the more impressive).

There are also local marching bands, entertaining historical reenactments and a diverse set of colorful floats, usually featuring local businesses.

This year, the parade will be held on Sunday, May 12th, 2024.

Tulip Time Run

Tulips garden at Veldheer Tulip Gardens in Holland, Michigan. Photo by Shriram Patki
Veldheer Tulip Gardens in Holland, Michigan. Photo by Shriram Patki

Like many festivals, there are opportunities for runners to show off their skills with a variety of races to choose from. Unlike other races, participants are surrounded by bright blooming tulips, which quite frankly makes it appealing to even me, who is allergic to running.

Types of Races:

5K Run/Walk: This race is popular among both runners and walkers, allowing participants to enjoy the scenic routes through Holland’s charming streets and picturesque neighborhoods.

10K Run: For those seeking a longer challenge, the 10K run provides a more demanding course while still offering the opportunity to soak in the vibrant atmosphere of the festival.

Kids’ Fun Run: Designed for the youngest participants, the Kids’ Fun Run offers a non-competitive and enjoyable experience, often featuring shorter distances suitable for children.

Tulip Time Run Mini: This event may include a shorter distance race, such as a 1-mile run or a shorter fun run, providing options for individuals who prefer a less demanding challenge.


Ferris wheel at Tulip Time carnival. Photo by Lumigraphics
Ferris wheel at Tulip Time carnival. Photo by Lumigraphics

In addition to all the other exciting Tulip Time events, there is a big carnival planted right in town, filled with arcade games, carnival rides, carousels, entertainment and plenty of carnival food. It’s a playground for children and adults alike making it an exciting addition to the festival.


Windmill Island Gardens

De Zwaan Windmill , Holland, MI. Photo by Vito Palmisano
De Zwaan Windmill in the Windmill Island Gardens. Photo by Vito Palmisano

A visit to the Windmill Island Gardens is a must. You’ll be treated to meticulously landscaped gardens adorned with an array of tulip beds.

The centerpiece of the Windmill Island Gardens is the De Zwaan Windmill. Dating back to the 18th century, this bright red De Zwaan is the only authentic, working Dutch windmill in the United States.

During Tulip Time, visitors can tour the windmill and learn about its fascinating history and operation. Climbing to the top of the windmill offers panoramic views of the surrounding gardens and tulip fields, providing a unique perspective on the beauty of the area.

Tulip Immersion Garden

Another garden worth visiting is the Tulip Immersion Garden, located at the Beechwood Church. Designed by the world-renowned Dutch horticulturalist, Ibo Gülsen, the garden is an experience that takes visitors through the history of the tulip (Did you know that tulips originated in Turkey?), with a miraculous display of 65,000 of them. Be sure to book tickets ahead of time ($15 for adults, $5 for kids).

Read More: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Unexpected in Michigan

Dining in Holland During Tulip Time

Stroofwafels, a wonderful Dutch treat. Photo by Canva
Stroofwafels, a wonderful Dutch treat. Photo by Canva

A huge part of this Dutch celebration is the food. There are no shortage of Dutch delicacies served at stands, shops and restaurants around the city of Holland. Treats include stroopwafels (thin waffle cookies filled with caramel syrup), poffertjes (mini Dutch pancakes), oliebollen (deep-fried dough balls dusted with powdered sugar), and Dutch apple pie.

There of course are plenty of classic carnival food options such as corndogs, funnel cake (my all-time favorite) and kettle corn. There is a wide range of international street food and many other culinary delights as well.

In the shops and at farmer’s markets, you’ll find homemade chocolates and baked goods, fresh fruit and vegetables and no shortage of cheese. Artisan markets have great gifts and souvenirs, artwork, and Dutch-inspired creations such as wooden shoes. Some stands offer live demonstrations to showcase their processes, such as glassblowing, pottery or jewelry making. The locals really make these markets special.

If you’re looking for a sit-down restaurant experience, there are many great choices. My personal favorites include Debouer Bakkerrij (for Dutch treats), the Windmill Restaurant for breakfast and lunch, and Bowerman’s on 8th, a blueberry-themed restaurant and cafe. Bars include Waverly Stone, Coppercraft Distillery and Hop Cat.

Shopping in Holland

Hagelslag. Photo by Canva
Hagelslag. Photo by Canva

There are a variety of shops on 8th Street, the heart of downtown Holland featuring books, gifts, and many Dutch collectibles.

Apothecary Gift Shop: Located in downtown Holland, this unique shop offers a variety of handcrafted soaps, lotions, candles, and other bath and body products. They specialize in natural and locally sourced ingredients, making it a popular destination for those seeking artisanal skincare items.

Reader’s World: A beloved independent bookstore in Holland, Reader’s World offers a wide selection of books across various genres, including fiction, non-fiction, children’s literature, and local interest titles. The store frequently hosts author events, book clubs, and other literary activities, making it a hub for book lovers in the community.

Dutch Village: This is a must-visit shop in downtown Holland where you can sample many kinds of cheeses (I recommend trying the cumin and coconut cheese) and browse a wide variety of Dutch gifts. My personal favorite Dutch delicacy is hagelslag which you’ll find in this shop. Literally meaning “hailstorm” in English, this treat is a type of sprinkle used as a topping on buttered bread. I grew up eating this with my Dutch friends and we could never get enough. It’s very hard to find in the USA, so I recommend stocking up.

More to Do Around Holland

Walking Tour

If it’s your first time in Holland, I recommend doing a walking tour to learn more about the town and its history. There are tours specific to learning about the demanding tulip planting process and maintenance, ghost tours and landmark tours.

Historic Walking Tour

Nelis’ Dutch Village

Nelis’ Dutch Village. Photo by ClaudineVM
Nelis’ Dutch Village. Photo by ClaudineVM

If you are traveling with kids, I highly recommend a visit to Nelis’ Dutch Village. This adorable Dutch-themed amusement park offers a variety of unique activities including learning how to Klompen dance, a tour of a Dutch schoolhouse and plenty of exhilarating rides. You’ll also find more shops selling delicious cheese and chocolate.

Visit Saugatuck, Douglas and Fennville

If you venture 15 minutes south, you’ll encounter the beautiful towns of Douglas and Saugatuck, which have grown in popularity over the last couple of decades. These sister towns light up from May through October with a bustling arts and culture scene, boating and water activities, and a plethora of cute local shops.

This region is very picturesque and worth exploring. I recommend driving a few miles down Lakeshore Drive which runs along Lake Michigan. You’ll see some remarkable houses and scenic viewpoints.

Wineries in Fennville

Michigan Wine Company Vineyards. Photo by Isabella Miller
Michigan Wine Company vineyards. Photo by Isabella Miller

Another 10 minutes south is the adorable farm town of Fennville, where I lived for the past two years. Located in what is considered Michigan’s fruit belt, the town prides itself on great produce and amazing wine. Within the Fennville city limits alone, there are 5 wineries/cideries.

I had the pleasure of working at Michigan Wine Company for a year, where I learned how to make and sell wine. Located on a 5-acre vineyard, its quaint setting is perfect for year-round visits but is especially amazing in the summer and fall.

With a huge outdoor seating area, a fire pit, and plenty of vines to explore, I personally think it’s the best winery in Fennville (but I might be biased). Cultivated with care by company owners, Joe and Erica K, their small-batch wine is an absolute delight with options growing each year. Maybe you’ll even get to try some of the wine I had a hand in making.

I also recommend a visit to Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant which features homemade pies with fruit grown right on the property (and many other incredible homemade desserts), a selection of wines and ciders and a full artisan restaurant. The apple orchard views make it all the better.

Learn More About Michigan Wine Company Here (and watch a short video I made)

How to Get to Holland, MI

There are a few options for getting to Holland depending on where you’re coming from. If you want to also visit Chicago, I recommend flying into O’Hare or Midway, renting a car, and driving two and a half hours to Holland. Otherwise, Grand Rapids is West Michigan’s main airport which is only a half hour’s drive away.

Having been to Tulip Time twice now, I can confidently say it’s something worth checking out. It’s like a slice of the Netherlands right here in America. The colorful tulip fields and cultural celebrations make it a unique experience that’s fun for all ages.

If You Go:

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Isabella Miller

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