The Tulip Time Festival, taking place from May 5 – 12 in Holland, is a celebration of Dutch heritage and culture. Today, Gwen Auwerda, Executive Director of the festival, answers some of our questions about this fun event.
Q: How did the Tulip Time Festival start and why did it start in Holland?
A: Lida Rogers, a Holland High School biology teacher, had an idea in 1929 to beautify the city. Implemented by the city of Holland and Mayor Earnest Brooks, the city purchased 100,000 imported bulbs from the Netherlands and planted them in the parks and along the street curbs. Lida’s idea was to have one day set aside every years as a “tulip day.” When the tulips bloomed in 1929 and Tulip Time was first announced to the world, the response was overwhelming. Thousands of tourists visited the city during an eight-day period, this date chosen because the tulips would be in full bloom. Over the years the festival has grown in attendance with over 500,000 visitors each year and 6 million tulips planted in the city, parks and local attractions.
Q: How many people attend the Festival and how far do people travel?
A: Attendance is over 500,000 visitors during the Festival and in 2011, visitors from over 40 countries were represented.
Q: What sorts of activities are planned for the festival?
A: Dutch Dancing is a highlight for guests. The Netherlands is divided into 12 provinces, seven of which are represented in costume by the dancers during the festival. In general, the clothing represents the late 1800s and early 1900s. Over 900 dancers can be seen daily in their traditional dress.
We have 3 signature parades with the largest parade being the Saturday Muziekparade (Music Parade) with approximately 30 bands participating.
Community art & culture organizations provide a variety of evening events showcasing their talent. Also included in the evening shows are national entertainment acts. Additionally, as part of the festival we have fireworks, art & craft fair, Kinderplaats – our children’s festival, Tulip City Tours – a 70 minute guided tour of the local area and the Tulip Time Run.
Q: Are there any activities new for this year’s festival?
A: New for 2012 – Modern Delftware Art Class, Family Rest Area, QuikTrip Parking Shuttle, Bier Tuin – our Dutch Beer Garden, and a text to vote for the Volksparade on Wednesday for your favorite float and a text to vote on Saturday’s Muziekparade for your favorite band.
Q: How does the festival focus on Holland’s Dutch heritage?
A: Our focus on Dutch heritage can be experienced at the Dutch Marktplaats – a place where you can experience the tastes, sights, sounds and crafts of 19th century Holland. Dutch food, dancing, crafts, costumes and shopping all in one place.
Q: Do you have any tips for people that want to grow their own tulips?
A: Tulip bulbs are planted in the fall before the ground freezes and they bloom in the spring. They can withstand very cool temperatures and even snow after they have begun to pop out of the ground in the spring. They are a very hearty flower. The blooms last approximately 21 days and come in early, mid and late blooming varieties.
Q: Where can people go to learn more about the festival?
A: tuliptime.com is the website for the Holland Tulip Time Festival. The schedule of events, map of the tulip lanes, shows and ticket purchases can all be found on our website.
Gwen Auwerda is Executive Director of the Tulip Time Festival.