Tulip Time festival in Holland features tours, carnival, Tall Ships
It's Tulip Time but with a twist this spring. The annual flower festival, running Saturday through May 9, will have some COVID-safe tweaks during its eight days in Holland.
"It’s a really great place to come and be outside, we have beautiful parks here, we’re on the shores of Lake Michigan, it’s just a really peaceful and really restful place to be," said Executive Director Gwen Auwerda. She said in addition to all that the Tulip Time festival offers, downtown Holland itself is worth a visit because of all the shops and restaurants.
It's free to gaze at the millions of colorful tulips, and most can be viewed from public parks and throughout the streets of downtown Holland. Other events and activities — including a carnival, Tall Ship dockside tours, Dutch costume exhibit and market and ticketed tulip photography walks — will take place within a four-mile radius of the downtown area.
The walking tours are new this year; they replace the popular trolley tours from previous events.
"Sixteen people, two miles walking, two hours and a costumed guide will take you around town and show you some of the historic sites, tulips of course, and get you some behind-the-scenes information," said Auwerda. "So that’s really fun and unique and brand new."
The annual event has some virtual aspects this year, too, like the online artisan market with homespun goods for sale like jewelry, fiber arts, paintings, woodworking and more. View the shop at tuliptime.com/artisan-market.
Tulip Time also hosts daily virtual visits with Princess Lida. Kids can view an interactive video from Lida's summer house with story time, activities and online access to coloring, recipes and more. She can be viewed each day of the festival at noon and tickets are $8.
The tulip 5K, 10K and kids run are also virtual this year. Runners can register ($40) and run any day or time they like between May 1-10. Courses along the tulip-lined streets and waterfront have been mapped out or runners can create their own course anywhere.
Auwerda said the festival organizers decided which events needed to be virtual and which could be in person based on guidelines from the Michigan Department of Health.
She estimates that during a normal year, around 500,000 people visit Holland during Tulip Time's nine-day period.
“It’s very hard to count because people are coming for parades and just to look at tulips, so that’s just an estimate we had done from an economic impact study,” said Auwerda, who has been with the festival for a decade. “I don’t know what to expect this year, maybe half of that, but it’s hard to say.”
Holland is about 200 miles from Metro Detroit, located just west of Grand Rapids. Visit tuliptime.com for more details on the festival.