Have you ever heard of Holland Michigan? If you have, you’re probably aware of the popular Tulip festival that takes place here each year. It is well worth a visit to see these beautiful flowers everywhere, but also as a destination in it’s own right for many other reasons! Watch the video of our visit to Holland Michigan and the Tulip Time Festival. Then keep reading to learn more about how you can plan to visit, things to do, where to stay, and where to eat!
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In this guide we share all the things you need to know to plan your own trip to Holland Michigan, and especially how to visit and experience the Tulip Time Festival!
About Holland Michigan
Holland is a town in the lower peninsula of Michigan, located on the west coast along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. It is a great place to getaway, and though known for the Tulip Time Festival celebration of its Dutch heritage, it is a wonderful place to visit for many reasons!
When To Visit Holland Michigan
If you want to participate in the annual Tulip Time Festival, plan to visit Holland Michigan in May. The 2023 festival is scheduled for May 6 – May 14, 2023. You could also try to see the tulips shortly before the festival to avoid the crowds, but still see the beautiful flowers.
Holland is worth a visit outside this time of year as well, as there are a lot of things to do besides the Tulip Festival. In fact, the downtown streets and sidewalks are heated so you can come in any season!
How To Get To Holland Michigan
You can reach Holland from either Chicago or Detroit within three hours. You can fly into airports in either city and rent a car, or roadtrip with your own vehicle from wherever you are coming from!
What Is The Tulip Time Festival?
Tulip Time is an annual festival in Holland Michigan that showcases beautiful tulips across the city, celebrates Dutch heritage, and provides lots of fun activities and events.
Holland planted its first batch of 100,000 tulips in 1929 and so many people came to see them that the Tulip Festival was born. The 2022 festival we attended was the 93rd annual festival, and these days there are a lot more tulips, numbering in the millions!
Visit the Tulip Time website, pickup the brochures, and stop by info stands around town to make sure you’re aware of all the amazing options that await you when you visit for this fun experience!
How Much Does The Tulip Time Festival Cost?
It can essentially cost you as much or as little as you want. Since the festival is city wide and isn’t confined to a single building or location, there are many ways to enjoy the festivities. Going throughout the town and enjoying the public parks with their many tulips and several free events won’t cost you a thing. Or you can add on a myriad of paid events and activities for whatever your budget will allow.
Things To Do in Holland Michigan During The Tulip Time Festival
Holland Michigan pulls out all the stops for Tulip Time. This festival is full of many varied things to see and do. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get the full experience!
Tulip Immersion Garden
New in 2022, we were lucky enough to catch the inaugural Tulip Immersion Garden experience.
The Tulip Immersion Gardens are located at the Ottawa County Fairgrounds. For this exhibit, you can enter by purchasing tickets with timed admissions. There are raised tulip beds so you can get right up to them including at eye level. This a unique experience as throughout the rest of town you have regular tulip beds along the ground. Instead, here you have them all at different heights so you can stand among them in tiered platforms.
They tout it as a very “Instagramable experience”, and we agree because it’s a great place to get wonderful pictures. Because of that we actually took family and maternity pictures here as well, and they turned out amazing.
The exhibit was created by the Dutch horticulturist Ibo Gülsen using 50,000 tulips. He created this, and not only is it a beautiful experience, but it takes you through the history of the tulips.
Tulips were already being planted in Europe in the 16th century, but it wasn’t until later in that century that they were brought to the Netherlands by a Dutch botanist who had met the Austrian ambassador in Vienna who had already brought them over from Turkey.
Then, with Holland’s Dutch heritage, there was a high school biology teacher named Lida Rogers who asked the city to make the tulip the town’s official flower because of their Dutch roots and their heritage. Instead of putting tulips in every yard the way she originally envisioned, they bought 100,000 bulbs from the Netherlands and planted them in city parks. So many people came from all around to see these flowers, and it was such a success that the next year they made Tulip Time an official festival.
Free Tulip Gardens Around Town
If you don’t want to pay the additional cost to see tulips in the immersion garden, or if you went and still haven’t had your fill, there are many parks around town where you can see many more tulips for free.
Centennial Park is a Victorian era park in downtown Holland with a gazebo and a traditional Dutch fountain.
There were over 40,000 tulips planted here, and it’s a beautiful place to enjoy them. This is also where the Dutch dancing took place which we go into more detail on below.
Window on the Waterfront
Another really nice place to check out in town is Window on the Waterfront Park. This is a 30 acre park with a nice a walk along the river, and it’s also a lot less busy than some of the other places. You can actually see Windmill Island across the water as well.
Then a bit further back from the water they have a section with walking paths through radiant tulip beds. There are about 100,000 tulips here in all sorts of colors and combinations. We were actually really surprised at the variety. We had no idea that there were this many color variations for tulips.
Here we did notice that some tulips began looking a little bit wilted later in the week as the temperatures had been extremely hot, but most of them were still doing great and still beautiful. Just factor that into your visit if the weather is forecasted to be very hot!
Downtown Holland Flowerbeds
If you stroll through the historic downtown area, which is full of shops restaurants, you’ll find even more tulips, almost another 40,000! Keep an eye out for all the flower beds and planters as you enjoy the downtown.
Street Islands and Shoulders
Drive around town and you’ll find various curbside tulip lanes with 250,000 tulips! Head through the historic district and various neighborhoods. The best place is to go down Washington Blvd. and 12th Street, but also Van Raalte Ave., Central Ave., State St., and 28th St.
There’s also Kollen Park and the Hope College Campus with additional tulips to view.
Windmill Island Gardens
Windmill Island Gardens is one of the main attractions in the area where you can go see a real windmill that was brought over from the Netherlands. It is actually still an old working mill and it is called De Zwaan which means graceful bird. It is centuries old, right around 250 years or so, and you can go inside of it! There is an entrance fee.
You can climb the stairs and on each floor learn more about how the windmill is used. We were able to go up to the fourth floor, the milling floor, and then out on the viewing platform. There you have almost 360 degree views, but part of it is blocked off so you can’t get near the blades themselves. We learned that the blades will start to turn in 15 mile per hour winds, but that that’s not quite enough to mill grain yet. They need a little bit more than that.
From here you can walk around and see the 36 acre grounds from above. During Tulip Time they have it planted with tons of tulips everywhere but they have other plants at other times. From the observation deck you can sometimes go up one more floor to the fifth floor where the millstones are, but it was blocked off during our visit.
There is a rope where the grain is pulled up from the bottom to the top. And then the sixth and seventh floors are typically accessed only by the miller and are also very small.
Make sure you walk around the windmill and grounds to get some more great views. You can also check out the Dutch village, Dutch street organ, and the antique hand-painted carousel.
We caught one of the free nightly displays of Dutch dancing by both youths and adults in traditional Dutch costumes, including the iconic wooden shoes, which are especially neat to hear. We really enjoyed watching this display of the town’s Dutch heritage. Arrive a bit early to get a good spot along the curb as the dancing takes place in the street at Centennial Park.
The festival features two parades, a childrens parade “Kinderparade” and People’s Parade “Volksparade” on another day. Enjoy costumes, bands, and floats. Get there early to get a good spot along the road or purchase tickets for a spot in the grandstands. Another option is to watch past parades and Live parades on the City of Holland YouTube channel. We actually did this as we were heading out of town on the day of one of the parades.
Nelis’ Dutch Village
Nelis’ Dutch Village is a recreation of an 1800’s Dutch village. It is also a theme park with rides. You can watch many interesting demonstrations as well. There is shopping and lots of food to try. During Tulip Time they have lots of tulips, but it’s a fun place to visit anytime. There is an entrance fee.
Veldheer Tulip Farm, Deklomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory
Veldheer is a tulip farm that started post WWII with 100 red tulips and 300 white tulips and now grows millions of tulips in 850 different varieties. The Delft Factory makes hand painted Dutch pottery items. Deklomp makes the traditional wooden shoes out of blocks of wood on authentic Dutch equipment. There is an entrance fee to the garden area but admission is free to the Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory.
There is more to do than we could possibly list off, so here are several more rapid fire ideas:
- Artisan Market
- Quilt Show
- Art Exhibit
- Flower Arranging Classes
- Walking Tour – with a costumed guide to learn about Holland and sites around the city
- Zeeland Girl Photography Exhibit and traditional dresses made with modern spins
- Carnival Midway – rides and games
- Tall Ship Tours – dockside tours of the Friends Good Will tall ship replica
- Photo Walk – photography workshop with local photography professionals
- On stage music & entertainment
- Fireworks & Music – to end the festival
Things To Do in Holland Michigan During The Rest Of The Year
Holland Michigan isn’t just a destination during Tulip Time. We hope if you can’t visit then or if you’re lucky enough to visit multiple times, that you check out some of the amazing things to do outside of this specific time of year. Here are more ideas!
All year long you can enjoy the Holland Farmers Market which has around 100 vendors. They call it a producers market, and that means that everything is locally grown or made in Michigan! From May to December, twice weekly on Wednesdays and Saturdays, visit the outdoor market, and then from January to April on the first and third Saturdays of the month, visit the indoor Winter Market.
Downtown Holland Shopping
Head to the historic downtown to do some shopping, enjoy the architecture, and try the restaurants. Again you can even do this in the winter as the snowmelt system heats the streets and sidewalks!
Learn about Holland’s history at the Holland Museum and 3 other venues (the Cappon House, Settlers House, and Holland Armory).
Holland State Park
Visit Holland State Park and enjoy the beaches here both on Lake Michigan as well as Lake Macatawa. You can also see its iconic “Big Red” lighthouse. You can see this Holland Harbor Lighthouse by walking along the boardwalk to the pier. Apparently this is Michigan’s most photographed lighthouse!
Mt. Pisgah Dune Climb and Boardwalk
Just to the east of the state park, you can climb some stairs to do the Mt. Pisgah dune climb and boardwalk and end up 157 feet above Lake Michigan. You’ll overlook Lake Macatawa, Holland State Park and Lake Michigan, and the Big Red Lighthouse all from up high. Park at the Black Lake Boardwalk-East and you can cross the road and access the trailhead just up the road.
These places we mentioned above specifically to Tulip Time, but during the rest of the year they’re just as worthwhile to see. Here’s what you can expect:
- Windmill Island Gardens – though they won’t have the fields of tulips, they plant many other flower varieties and you can tour the windmill and enjoy the grounds from mid-April through early October!
- Window On the Waterfront – the tulip garden won’t be there, but the pathway along the waterfront is a great place to take a stroll anytime!
- Nelis’ Dutch Village – though the tulips will be gone, they are replaced with annuals, and you can visit this park and enjoy the recreated Dutch village and theme park all season.
- Veldheer Tulip Farm, Deklomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory – after the spring garden with the tulips, a summer garden is planted with perennials. You can also check out the wood shoe and pottery factory outside of the Tulip Festival.
- Other annual festivals in addition to Tulip Time, including a Vintage Car Show, Summer Street Performer and Concert Series, Macatawa Water Festival, International Festival, holiday parades, and more. Get the full list of events here.
Where To Stay in Holland Michigan
There are various options for where you can stay in the area.
RV and Camping
Ottawa County Fairgrounds
The Ottawa County Fairgrounds Camping area is where we stayed with our RV during our visit. The price was decent, and it was located adjacent to the Tulip Immersion Garden which was one of the main activities we had planned. That made it very convenient.
It was a pretty basic campsite but we had water and 30 amp electric. However, with the large event going on, the campground seemed to stay pretty loud even late into the night.
Holland State Park Campground
If we visited again, Holland State Park campgrounds are where we would stay. There are two campgrounds here. One is Lake Macatawa campground in the woods, and the other is the beachside campground. This one is more like a parking lot but you are also incredibly close to the beach.
Here are a few other area campgrounds.
There are great options for finding a hotel, Airbnb, or other campgrounds in which to stay around town as recommended by Holland.org:
Where To Eat & Drink
There are a multitude of options in town including:
- Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant – new American fare served with a view on Lake Macatawa.
- New Holland Brewing Co – local Holland brew and restaurant!
- Crust 54 – Chicago style deep dish and stone fired thin crust pizzas.
- Cherry Republic – pickup various yummy Michigan cherry products to try!
- More downtown dining options
We hope this gives you several ideas to add to your list of amazing things to do in Holland Michigan and during the Tulip Time Festival. Check out some of them and you’re sure to have a great time. Start planning for next year’s festival if you can and let us know if you went!
Ready To Plan Your Trip To Holland Michigan?
If you’re ready to plan your own trip, download the free Holland Michigan Trip Planner, with all the things to do, places to stay, and where to eat on one easy to reference page. You can print it out, or save it to your phone for when you’re out and about! It even has a link to this blog post and each item mentioned so you can get all the details on the go!
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