The Insider’s Guide to the Best Time to See Tulips in Holland, Michigan

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The Insider’s Guide to the Best Time to See Tulips in Holland, Michigan

The city of Holland, Michigan, is a town for all seasons. Nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan, this picturesque town offers a blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. Among its many attractions, the Holland Tulip Festival, or “Tulip Time” as locals call it, stands out as a must-visit event. Before planning your trip, let’s explore why visiting during Tulip Time is a must.

Where is Holland, Michigan, Anyway?

Holland, Michigan, is approximately 30 miles or 40 minutes from Grand Rapids, Michigan. If traveling from Chicago, Illinois, it’s around 140 miles, taking about 2.5 to 3 hours by car, depending on traffic. From Detroit, Michigan, Holland is roughly 160 miles away, with a similar travel time of 2.5 to 3 hours by car.

Need a place to stay?

The Seasons of Holland, Michigan

Summer

The summer in Holland is all about the lake. Visitors flock from across the country to enjoy the pristine freshwater beaches of Lake Michigan. 

Fall

Holland, in the fall, boasts some of the best views of the changing colors in West Michigan.

Winter

When winter arrives, the town comes alive with theater events, fine dining, and exciting college sports. The downtown area, home to the Fighting Dutchmen of Hope College, offers heated sidewalks for a cozy stroll.

The Best Time to See Tulips In Holland Michigan – Spring, of Course!

For the quintessential Holland experience, nothing beats visiting during the World-Famous Tulip Time Festival. Recognized as one of the top 20 events globally by the International Festival and Events Association, the Tulip Festival in Holland, Michigan, boasts over 5 million tulips on display each year during the first full week of May. The town bursts with vibrant colors and the joy of the local Dutch community celebrating its culture and heritage. Holland Michigan tulips adorn roads and are the heart of the festivities.

Click here for the official Tulip Time Website. There, you can see a full schedule of tours, parades, and shows.

Why Visit During Tulip Time

Parades, of Course!

Tulip Time features two exciting parades. The Gentex Kinderparade is a must-see event! Gather your blanket on Thursday afternoon to enjoy watching local elementary school children, all dressed up in adorable costumes, march through charming downtown Holland. The kids’ costumes and props represent the various Provinces of the Netherlands and highlight the cultural contributions the Dutch have made to America, including famous artists, foods, windmills, etc. I promise you’ll learn something new about Dutch culture if you watch this parade.

two girls in dutch costumes lead the kinderparade during Holland Michigan's tulip time
The Kinderparade is so much fun!

The Quality Car Wash Volksparade (people’s parade) takes place on the last Saturday of Tulip Time! This parade is big and bold, featuring dozens of West Michigan middle and high school bands. As they showcase their talents, colorful community floats join them in marching through the heart of downtown Holland. Prepare to be dazzled by floats, bicycles, classic cars, local law enforcement, a sprinkle of clowns, and perhaps even a ride-on wooden shoe. You won’t want to miss this vibrant display of creativity and community spirit!

The Holland Dutch marching band lead the parade during holland michigan's tulip time
The Holland High School Dutch Marching Band plays Tiptoe Through the Tulips, and the band members perform dance moves in their wooden shoes.
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Explore Dutch Culture

Wooden Shoes

A hallmark of Dutch culture, wooden shoes (“klompen”) are a common sight during Tulip Time. Veldheer Tulip Farms and Nelis’ Dutch Village offer insights into wooden shoe-making, where you can even purchase your own pair to wear and take home.

Locals don’t wear them around town on an average day, but at Tulip Time, you will undoubtedly see loads of people klomping around in their wooden shoes. Our local high school band even wears them while marching. Dare I say that they are the most excellent band around with their unique klomping sound while they march? They even do a little dance while they play Tiptoe through the Tulips!

One place you won’t see them is in many of the shops downtown. Because of the age of some of the buildings, the floors are original hardwood or tile, and wooden shoes can cause damage. So it’s the one time of year where you won’t hear “No shoes, No Service!” You may also see a pile of shoes under a sign just outside the door of one of those shops!

sign in the door showing "no wooden shoes" during holland michigan's tulip time
Signs on the shop doors ask for locals to remove their wooden shoes to preserve the floors.

Food and Dining During Tulip Time

Food Trucks

As Tulip Time approaches in late April, the sight of food trucks popping up signals the arrival of Spring. Indulge in deep-fried Oreos, elephant ears, and other delights while exploring downtown Holland.

My family has a long-standing tradition of two junk food meals from a truck during the week of Tulip Time. We also treat ourselves to a couple of snacks while they’re up. Don’t miss indulging in a fat ball (a hunk of deep-fried dough served with vanilla pudding or cherry pie filling).

Tulip Time Elephant Ears in a Food Truck
All kids and adults LOVE Elephant Ears!

Downtown Dining Delights

Downtown Holland boasts a range of dining options, with the New Holland Brewing as a personal favorite for delicious food and locally brewed beer.

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More Attractions – and Beyond Tulips

Windmill Island Gardens

Windmill Island Gardens is home to the only authentic Dutch windmill in the United States, “De Zwaan Windmill.” Explore the gardens, learn about Dutch culture, and tour the windmill.

Home to the only authentic Dutch windmill in the United States, “De Zwaan Windmill.” Explore the gardens, learn about Dutch culture, and tour the windmill.

Nelis’ Dutch Village

Nelis’ Dutch Village is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Dutch culture, with museum displays, Dutch cheese tasting, and a petting zoo for the kids. You can even ride on the windmill-themed Ferris wheel or the working carousel. It’s a great spot to learn about Dutch traditions. 

Photo of Boat at Dutch Villege
Dutch Village is beautiful, and there are so many opportunities for stunning photos.

Centennial Park

Located in downtown Holland, Centennial Park is just one of our lovely public parks, a serene escape with Victorian-style gardens and a traditional Dutch fountain, perfect for a relaxing stroll. Don’t miss the statue in honor of town founder Albertus C. VanRaalte.

The Artisan Market

The first weekend of Tulip Time plays host to the annual Tulip Time Artisan Market at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. You will love this charming gathering of local artisans showcasing their talents and wares. From handmade crafts to unique gifts, this market offers a delightful shopping experience amidst the vibrant festivities of Tulip Time. It’s a perfect place to find one-of-a-kind treasures and support local artists. Plan to come early to get the best spots in the parking lot. The drive to and from the Artisan Market can get crowded, so remember to be patient as you make your way to the entrance.

Veldheers Tulip Farm

Veldheer Tulip Farm is about 5 minutes North of Holland but is a must-see during Tulip Time or even in the days leading up to or after Tulip Time. Look for rows and rows of beautiful tulip fields, perfect for the photographer, either pro or amateur. Then head into the indoor market and purchase your very own tulip bulbs that come in countless styles and a variety of colors. 

Portrait-Photographer-Holland-Michigan-Veldheer-Drone-Photo
An aerial photo taken over the tulip fields of Veldheer Farms in Holland, Michigan

But your unique experience doesn’t stop there. The farm also houses a charming wooden shoe factory, where skilled artisans craft traditional Dutch wooden shoes right before your eyes. You can even purchase these iconic wooden shoes and handmade Delft pottery from the onsite Delft Factory.

Dutch Dancers and Community

Dutch Dancers

Witness the world-famous Dutch Dancers performing throughout downtown Holland. Dancing is a cherished tradition, with classes offered from elementary school to adults.

Dutch Dancers doing the Windmill
A signature move in Dutch Dance is to line up and create a windmill with the dancers’ arms.
Dutch Dancers Down 8th Street
Dutch Dancers line the main street of Holland many times during Tulip Time.
Dutch Dancers Feet
Holland residents make up the world famous Dutch Dancers

Traditional Dutch Costumes

The Tulip Time committee ensures dancers’ costumes are authentic and custom-made for each performer. Sewists craft these garments precisely, adding to the festival’s colorful spectacle.

The Happy Hollanders and The Holland Hibernators

Holland residents are divided into two camps during Tulip Time: those who adore every aspect of Tulip Time, which I call “The Happy Hollanders,” and “The Holland Hibernators,” who prefer huddling at home in a quiet retreat.

My husband and I are in opposite camps. I fall into the first category, and he falls into the second. As a lover of Tulip Time, I like to partake in the week’s excitement. I get into town as often as possible and stay for as long as possible. The parades make me so happy. I also love counting all the states I see on the license plates and eating junk food from the food trucks. I even did my time as a Dutch Dancer and happily lined up along the streets several times each week to perform. He is much happier avoiding town and traffic during the week of Tulip Time.

Adapting to Change

Adapting to Change: In 2020 and 2021, Tulip Time faced challenges due to Covid-19. The festival was canceled in both years, but the spirit remained strong, and the tulips still appeared in empty streets with no visitors. In 2022, with cautious optimism, Holland began looking forward to a return to many beloved Tulip Time traditions.

Today, the event is as bold and beautiful as ever, and the 2024 season is approaching with full vigor. Locals eagerly anticipate sightings of the vibrant green shoots peeking through the ground. These signs of spring mark the end of winter and the start of sunny days, warm weather, and the much-awaited beach season!

Finally! The Tulips!

I bet you were wondering when I’d get to this part. The most extraordinary part of Tulip Time is, of course, the Tulips! They are everywhere in Holland, Michigan, in the Spring. The town does a fantastic job of planting tulip bulbs at just the right time in the fall months so that they will burst out in all of their beauty just in time for Tulip Time. They are displayed everywhere in town, all over yards, and in giant beds along the main street.

coral and pink tulips from Holland Michigans tulip time
A purple tulip stands out above the crowd in a field of similar tulips.
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Trolley Tour and Tulip Lanes

You don’t want to miss a trolley ride through the city and around the community, where over 200,000 tulips line over six miles of streets in the historic district, complete with the backdrop of historic homes. We affectionately call these streets Tulip Lanes, and there are maps at the many information centers in town that will direct you to the route if you’d like to walk, bike, or slowly drive to get photos. Surprisingly, the lanes don’t get too busy, maybe because there are so many of them that there’s room for everyone to enjoy!

Tulip Immersion Garden

During Tulip Time, the Tulip Immersion Garden in Holland, Michigan, is like stepping into a colorful dream! You’ll be surrounded by thousands of beautiful tulips in every shade imaginable, making it a perfect spot for a stroll. It’s a delightful experience for anyone who loves flowers and wants to soak in the beauty of Holland’s famous tulips.

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Photo of DeZwaan framed by gazebo
Sunset is a beautiful time to stroll through the Windmill Island Gardens.

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Wrapping It All Up

It’s never too late to mark your calendar and start planning your visit, although hotels in town do fill up rather quickly, so if you come from a distance and need a great place to stay, don’t hesitate! Remember that Tulip Time Holland Michigan takes place in the first full week of May, from Saturday to Saturday. See you there!

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54 thoughts on “The Insider’s Guide to the Best Time to See Tulips in Holland, Michigan”

        • Hi Amy! A girls’ trip sounds like so much fun! You could take a visit to Windmill Island or Dutch Village. The downtown area is lovely with great shops and lots of dining choices. The beach is always a great way to spend a day. An evening dinner cruise on the Holland Princess is a must! Have fun with your trip!

    • There’s so much more than I even mentioned here. If you come, you definitely want to check the online schedule for performances during the week… We’ve had some great concerts over the years!

  1. I hope this could useful for my friend that has hobby of traveling. And Holland is one of the placed must be visited, because there are seven unique things during Tulip Time.

  2. Lakes, tulips, and friends! Sure reasons to visit! Michigan, here I come! Great post, great pictures (but of course! What do I expect from a fantastic photographer? Nothing but the best!) Looks like and your friends had mad fun judging from the poses!

    • We had a great time, Jennifer! Only thing that would’ve made it better would be if you were here, too! Next time! Come on over! And thank you for the lovely compliments, too. 😉

    • Thank you, Nicole! The city does such an amazing job of putting this all together! And the townspeople really step up for this event each year, too.

  3. I love the way that you wrote this post. As a blogger, it is very clear and your fonts, fonts sizes and colours made me read the whole post.
    I wanna see Tulip farms by my own eyes. I will in future. 🙂
    Wooden shoes??? really? That’s awesome. 🙂

    Plus, when every time I see your picture, I feel like I wanna say this. You definitely have to be a wonderful person to know. Very pretty and looks official 🙂
    Happy blogging. 🙂 Good luck with the things you do.

    • Thank you! You should definitely add Holland, Michigan and Tulip Time to your list of places to visit! Also thank you for your feedback. I appreciate it so much!

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