Every spring, the idyllic small town of Holland, Michigan transforms into a vibrant sea of color as millions of tulips burst into bloom for the annual Tulip Time Festival. As the Tulip City of America, Holland takes great pride in hosting this beloved flower festival that attracts visitors from around the country.
Read on for an in-depth guide to help you make the most of your trip to Holland for the 2023 Tulip Time Festival.
Introduction to the Festival
The Tulip Time Festival began in 1929 when a Holland High School biology teacher proposed the idea of celebrating the town’s Dutch heritage and abundant tulip gardens as a way to boost tourism and the economy. The first Tulip Time featured a “Dutch Market” in downtown Holland showcasing Dutch costumes, food and merchandise.
Local students performed traditional Dutch dances dressed in authentic costumes. Intricate parades marched through the streets decorated with thousands of tulips imported from the Netherlands.
Today, the Tulip Time Festival continues to honor Holland’s Dutch roots while also evolving with new attractions and events. The 2023 festival takes place May 6-14. While generations have passed, tulips and Dutch culture remain the backbone of the event.
Visitors can expect gorgeous parades, musical acts, carnival rides, fireworks shows, abundant craft vendors, delicious Dutch food, and of course, over 5 million vibrantly blooming tulips on display across Holland during the festival.
When to Visit the Festival?
The Tulip Time Festival occurs annually in early-mid May to coincide with peak tulip bloom season in Holland after the winter thaw. The festival takes place rain or shine.
For 2023, the festival runs May 6-14 with events scheduled all nine days. Peak tulip bloom usually happens around the second week of the festival. To see the tulips at their height with all varieties in bloom, aim to visit around May 10-12 if possible. But keep in mind, flowers will be abundant and dazzling throughout the festival.
Even if you can’t make it for prime bloom, attending any time during the festival lets you revel in gorgeous flowers while partaking in all the signature Tulip Time events and entertainment. There are plenty of early bloomers and late bloomers to admire from start to finish.
Top Sites to See the Tulips in Holland
The heart of the festival, downtown Holland becomes a kaleidoscope of color with tulips elegantly displayed throughout intersections, parks, window boxes, and in front of local businesses along the brick-lined streets.
Veldheer Tulip Gardens
Sprawling across fields right in Holland, these private tulip gardens from Veldheer Tulip Farm contain over 5 million tulips. Visitors can wander through the straight rows of blossoms on self-guided or guided walking tours. This flower wonderland really lets you immerse yourself in an endless landscape of vibrant blooms.
Windmill Island Gardens
On 30 acres surrounding a 250 year old Dutch windmill, Windmill Island Gardens has eye-catching displays of 60,000 tulips plus daffodils and hyacinths. Paths wind through the manicured flowerbeds dotted with windmills that are perfect for photos.
Holland Municipal Airport
Seeing rows of runway lined with rows of colorful tulips makes for an unusual sight. The grounds surrounding Holland’s small airport get filled with stripes of flowering bulbs.
Residential Streets in the Historic District
For possibly the most stunning floral sights, head to Holland’s Historic District just south of downtown. Here you’ll find the front gardens of Victorian homes and businesses bursting with vibrant tulips in all colors and varieties.
Throughout downtown and Holland’s neighborhoods, special “Tulip Lanes” feature tulips planted in the medians turning roads into tunnels of color. Find scenic lanes on Central Avenue, 8th Street, River Avenue, Ottawa Avenue and more.
Popular Parades During Tulip Time
One of the festival’s signature events, this parade happens multiple times daily and showcases everything Dutch. Participants wearing traditional Dutch costumes march down main street alongside floats decorated with fresh tulips, dance groups, marching bands and more. A fan favorite!
On the Saturday of Tulip Time, local kids get to participate by riding bikes, pulling wagons and pushing floats all decked out in creative costumes, tulips and balloons. It’s a cute, spirited event.
Combining Dutch street organ music and vintage cars with costumed marchers, this unique parade happens on Wednesday and Saturday mornings of the festival.
Festival Finale Grand Parade
On the festival’s final day, Holland pulls out all the stops with an elaborate Grand Parade to close out the event. It features ornate floats, local school groups, Dutch dancers, bands, and excitements galore.
Things to Do at the Tulip Festival
Tulip Time Carnival
Located in the Civic Center parking lot, this carnival provides thrill rides, classic games, and favorite fair food. Unlimited ride wristbands available.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, brilliant fireworks displays illuminate the sky over Lake Macatawa, synchronized to music.
Find authentic Dutch treats, gifts, wooden shoes and souvenirs at this lively outdoor market located in Centennial Park.
Nelis’ Dutch Village
This charming theme park celebrates Dutch culture with rides, shows, mini golf, shops, restaurants and attractions.
Learn about the Netherlands and Holland’s history as a Dutch settlement at this museum in downtown Holland.
Where to Stay in Holland for Tulip Time
With crowds flocking to Tulip Time, lodging in Holland books up months in advance. Here are some of the best areas to stay during the festival:
Downtown Holland Lodging
For ultimate convenience, book a downtown hotel or B&B to be steps from the festival action. Just know downtown options fill up incredibly fast.
Good options include: City Flats Hotel, Courtyard Holland, Best Western Plus, Commerce House B&B, and various vacation rental homes.
Hotels Near Holland
Properties 10-15 minutes outside downtown also provide easy access to the festival and more availability. Hotels in Holland Township or Grand Haven are popular choices.
Try: Holiday Inn Express Holland, Hampton Inn Holland, DoubleTree Grand Haven, and Fairfield Inn & Suites Holland.
Grand Rapids Lodging
Grand Rapids, MI is only about a 30 minute drive from Holland, making it a viable base. Downtown Grand Rapids puts you closest.
Recommended hotels include: Amway Grand Plaza, JW Marriott, AC Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown, and Hyatt Place Grand Rapids.
South Haven Lodging
The scenic beach town of South Haven sits about a 40 minute drive southwest of Holland along the Lake Michigan shoreline. It can serve as a peaceful home base in between exploring the crowded tulip festivities.
Good options are: Eagle Inn Resort, NorthShore Inn, Red Arrow Hideaway, Blue Star Inn, and various waterfront vacation rentals.
Getting to Holland
Traveling to Holland, MI for the festival is easy by car, bus or train from cities like Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo.
Holland sits right off major highways like I-196 and a short drive from I-94. Having a car allows the most flexibility for exploring all the tulip sites and side attractions.
Daily buses run by Greyhound and Megabus come into Holland from nearby cities like Grand Rapids and Chicago.
The Amtrak station in downtown Holland provides rail connections from cities like Chicago and Grand Rapids. You can also take the rail ferry across Lake Michigan.
The closest commercial airport is Grand Rapids’ Gerald R. Ford International Airport, around 30 miles from Holland. Flights come in from major hubs around the country.
Don’t Miss These Tulip Time Traditions
Two brilliant fireworks displays over Lake Macatawa create excitement on Friday & Saturday nights.
Tulip Trolley Tours
Narrated vintage trolley tours bring you to top tulip viewing spots around town.
Window on the Waterfront
One of the top spots downtown to see dazzling displays of over 100,000 colorful tulips framing the lakefront.
Indulge in sweet and savory authentic Dutch specialties like Poffertjes, stuffed pastries, Licorice, Stroopwafels, and more!
Breath in the fresh spring air and walk among the blossoms as you enjoy Holland putting on its prettiest face during the Tulip Time Festival. And remember to mark your calendar for the 2023 Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan!