Travel Journals: Holland Tulip Festival

Let’s talk about flowers.

Well, only a little. Surprisingly, the Tulips are not the best part of the Holland Tulip Festival.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For those that don’t know, Holland is a city on the west coast of Michigan. That area of the state is very heavily influenced by Dutch culture, it was a huge settlement area for Dutch people who came to the United States in the 1800s.

As such, they have a number of cultural festivals throughout the year, and the Tulip Festival is one of them.

Despite living only a couple hours away, I’d never been to the Tulip Festival before. It’s something that everyone in and around the area knows all about, but it’s one of those things that gets pushed aside because you live too close. I’ve always thought, “Oh, I’ll go to it eventually,” but never made any effort to do so.

This year, my parents – newish empty nesters who have suddenly developed lives and interests that I had no idea they could possess – decided they were finally going to go, and invited Michael and I along with them.

Aren’t we cute?

So, after driving about two hours to get to the event, we found that they very conveniently offer a free bus service to the various sections of the event. We parked in a massive parking lot and hopped on the bus.

First stop, Windmill Island Gardens!

This stop required a ticket for entry, which I was initially confused about. It hadn’t occurred to me that these events cost money to put on, so of course they’re going to charge entry. My parents very generously paid for all of our tickets, though, so I have no idea how much it cost.

Here’s the thing about the Gardens. They’re called ISLAND gardens. Indicating that they are in fact located on a limited amount of land, which means a limited amount of space, which means that the massive crowd that descended upon the Gardens for this event had only so many places they could go.

And I am not the biggest fan of crowds.

Unfortunately, also, the weekend we went to the festival was not peak season for the Tulips. If we’d given it another week, I’m sure the sight would have been absolutely stunning. There were plenty of pretty blooms in the fields and along the walls, but it was not the sea of stunning color that I had anticipated.

That being said, we did still get a few lovely pictures.

After the Gardens, the next stop on the bus was Downtown Holland!

There were still some rather repressive crowds in the city, but it was easy enough to pop into a shop or find a side street where you weren’t shoulder to shoulder with other humans. And downtown didn’t seem to be experiencing the steady trickle inward of more and more people with too few people leaving, like the Gardens had.

The most exciting part of Downtown for me was an absolutely stunning yarn shop located not far from the main event. I won’t go too much into it, but I definitely parted with a quite bit of money there. If anyone is interested, the shop is called GarenHuis Yarn Studio, and it is lovely.

Moving on, though, the main event of downtown was a huge art fair in a gorgeous park in the center of the city.

The art fair was, of course, absolutely mad with people. The booths were practically stacked upon one another, but somehow it didn’t feel suffocating.

We took a leisurely stroll through the whole event, stopping now and then to coo over one thing or another. The offerings at the booths were eclectic, from doll clothes to lawn ornaments to paintings.

The only thing I purchased, though, was a bag of cinnamon coated roasted pecans, but I’d say it was a highlight of the trip. Michael is now somewhat obsessed with them, and it’s definitely going to be a tradition for us to seek out a nut vendor when we go to fairs in the future.

Have you ever been to the Holland Tulip Festival? Do you want to? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be back with another post in a few days!

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