Dutch National Tulip Day is held on Dam Square

Dutch National Tulip Day is held on Dam Square

Pick your own bunch of tulips in the heart of Amsterdam!

The Dutch have a way with flowers. Their country is said to be ‘the land where the earth laughs in flowers’. The nation is awash with flowers even in the middle of winter. Especially the tulips come highly recommended. That is why many tourists visiting Amsterdam for a short holiday will at the very least inquire about trips from Amsterdam to the fabled Keukenhof, the fields where endless numbers of tulips grow. 

In case you’ve toyed with the possibility of seeing the floral seas but had to regrettably forego the trip, you are in luck if you happen to be in Amsterdam this month. On 18th January, the official start of the tulip season will kick off right in the centre of Amsterdam on the Dam. You too can participate in National Tulip Day when you make your way from your Amsterdam Apartment flat to the Dam Square. 

You get the chance to actually pick tulips on this day. “Anyone can come to pick free tulips here. This festive event sets of tulip season because some 1.7 billion Dutch tulips are expected to bring spring into homes around the world”, the organisers promise. The event is popular so chances are that you’ll find yourself spontaneously gravitating towards the Dam Square anyway because thousands of people come to pick a free bouquet of flowers every time National Tulip Day is held. 

Except for the free flower picking, the tulip growers that host the event also surprise visitors with many stunts and promotions which are highly suitable for children. 

For a bit of background about tulips; the flower grows from January until the end of April. Shops all around Amsterdam and the Netherlands will sell every conceivable variety of tulip. This plant has been experimented on by growers for the last three hundred years, so you can imagine the lavish numbers of varieties! 

There are tulips in literally every colour nowadays. Exports of tulips are highly important to the Dutch economy, as the tulip is to the Dutch what the thistle is to the Scottish population or the clover to the Irish. Tulip exports are still a rather important part of the Dutch economy, but nothing near as important as in the 1600s, when during a period now known as Tulipomania rare species of tulips could make a grower rich overnight. 

That market bubble collapsed in 1637 leaving rather a few people with skyrocketing debts, as described by the English author/journalist Charles Mackay whose book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, is still very popular. Mackay claims that the Semper Augustus bulb was so rare it would exchange for twelve acres of land. When the bubble burst not only private parties were ruined, but Dutch commerce as a whole suffered a severe shock. 

Today a bunch of about five tulip bulbs costs about ten euros, so be sure to say thank you to the growers who treated you to a free bunch of flowers on the Dam.