The Noordoostpolder, opposite the Markermeer bay from Amsterdam, contains more tulips than anywhere else in the Netherlands. From April 17 – May 5th, the annual Tulip Festival is a formal introduction to the super abundant tulip fields in the Noordoostpolder. Each spring a small migration of flower lovers saunters through a landscape of blooming bulbs, hand seeded a few months prior. Come admire the sheer outburst of organic colors arrayed forth in nectar scented petals.
The Tulip Festival provides a unique path among some of the country’s most scenic floral landscapes. Locals of the Noordoostpolder also arrange some equally attractive events to coincide with the Tulip Festival. There are walks, cycling routes, tulip markets and garden shows, mosaic pathways, and photography competitions along with many other attractions. Consult the Tulip Festival website to learn all the detailed calendar activities and to download the tulip tour routes for hiking, biking, scootering or even hiring a dainty horse drawn carriage. Merge a trip with some of Amsterdam’s most distinguished cultural features from art to food to canal front walks and indulge in a fully satisfying set of memories in Holland.
If keeping primarily to the Noordoostpolder throughout one’s stay is the plan, then here are some interesting happenings there during the Tulip Festival interval. The Night of Orange presents a street party in the center of Emmeloord, representing a wide variety of genres into the wee hours of morning. Like all events listed here, admission is free! Also in Emmeloord, on April 20th, come help children make mini gardens at the Martin Verlouw Groendag (Green Roof). The Tulip Queen awards the six most appealing gardens with gifts.
Afterwards, there is some tulip picking to do that day on Fair Street (Beursstraat). Compose a personal bouquet out of the some 20,000 colored tulips present. People often decide to take their bouquets with them to restaurants and have them on their table while dining. The community’s proud display of Dutch botanical heritage has an infectious enthusiasm for this overwhelming gift of Nature.
Beyond these events, the Kennedy March of Sittard occurs as an 80 km (50 mile) hike through all the villages of the Noordoostpolder from 10pm through the night until 6pm the following day and is strictly for walkers. The event derives from U.S. President Kennedy’s physical health and fitness public challenge for all to walk 50 miles in 20 hours, an old physical requirement for U.S. Marines. In 1963, four Dutch citizens began doing this challenge over the Easter holiday, which started a growing tradition that has continued every year since and coinciding most beautifully with the outdoor values of the Tulip festival.
In the distinctly Dutch ways of celebrating a great tulip harvest: from child-sized mini gardens, to dining among one’s handpicked bouquets, to a traditional fitness march along the flower fields, to their public reveling during the Night of Orange, to the more well known enjoyments found in nearby Amsterdam; this iconic cultural event is for all appreciators of nature.
Similarly, given the multitude of ways to traverse the Noordoostpolder’s fetching array of scents and sights found throughout this apex of Dutch tulip country, these three weeks of the Tulip Festival are a favorable interval to invite some good friends along and come visit the Dutch capital together for an bountiful immersion into one of Holland’s most distinguished qualities, their jovial tulip harvest. Let this age old flower trade draw out a lovely short stay at the mother of all tulip markets and tulip festivals.