Discover Holland During the 2013 Tulip Time Festival

More than 500,000 people from 40 countries travel to the Holland Tulip Time Festival each year. This year’s festival is happening May 4-11, 2013 and there will be plenty to experience – from parades and traditional Dutch Dance performances to concerts, theatre, food and more. And outside of the festival, there’s no shortage of sights to see and things to explore around the Holland area. If you’re looking for things to do while you’re in town, see our Q&A with Sally Laukitis of the Holland CVB below for inspiration.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your position at the Holland Convention and Visitors Bureau
I grew up in Holland, went away to college, and lived out of state for a few years…I’ve always loved Holland and wanted to get “back home”, so when the opportunity to move back presented itself, I jumped on it!   I’ve been with the Holland CVB for 20 years, serving as Executive Director for 18. I truly feel like I have the best job in the world! (I also currently serve on the Michigan Travel Commission.)

Credit: Wei Xue Yuan

Q: What do you think makes Holland the perfect place to host the Tulip Time Festival?
Holland is a natural for Tulip Time!  For starters we have over five million tulips; a 250 year-old authentic Dutch windmill that was brought over from the Netherlands, a Dutch-certified master miller working the mill; and a city that was founded by Dutch settlers in 1847.  Our Dutch heritage runs deep, including many residents with ties to the Netherlands and visits by Dutch royalty nearly every decade since World War II. We have the only production blue-and-white Delftware factory in the US, and a community that loves to throw a party!  Tulip Time boasts over 800 volunteers community-wide!

Q: What other fun events are happening in Holland this spring?
A: In addition to Tulip Time, we host a “GrooveWalk” April 20 with thirteen bands performing live in thirteen different restaurants, pubs, and other establishments throughout Downtown; Fiesta! – a celebration of our Latino heritage is May 3 & 4 with a lowrider show, great Mexican food and ethnic music; the Holland Farmer’s Market opens May 13 with all sorts of fresh produce, flowers, yard art, artisan baked goods, and in the summer special kids’ activities Wednesday mornings at 10 and the Chef Series Saturday mornings at 10; the Critter Barn offers a delightful family experience where folks of all ages can get “up close and personal” with ducks, goats, cows, and even a pot-bellied pig; and of course our Dutch attractions – Windmill Island Gardens, DeKlomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory and Veldheer Gardens are fun for all.

Windmill Island Gardens. Credit: Sara Simmons

Q: Can visitors experience Holland’s Dutch culture year-round?
The Dutch experience is alive and well all year!  At the Holland Museum you can immerse yourself in over 150 years of our Dutch history, including the devastating fire of 1871 that destroyed most of the town, as well as the history of Tulip Time; Dutch architecture is evident throughout our award-winning downtown and in our historic district, and in late November/early December folks can enjoy Dutch WinterFest and the Holidays in Downtown Holland, including a European open-air Christmas market and the appearance of Sinterklaas, the Dutch St Nicholas arriving in Holland on his white horse, accompanied by his Zwarte Piet helpers. For year-round treasures and Dutch chocolates, the import shops at Dutch Village are the place to be!

Q: What are some of your favorite restaurants in the area?
There are lots of wonderful locally-owned restaurants in Holland! If you’re craving authentic Dutch food, the 4th generation DeBoer’s Dutch Brothers Café and Bakkerij is sure to please; for family fun, try Crazy Horse Steak House for the best beef in town; if you want a romantic dinner overlooking the water, Piper is an excellent choice; for outdoor waterfront dining, Boatwerks, with its spacious deck is a great choice. And don’t forget Pereddies for a cozy Italian dinner.

Q: What’s your favorite way to spend a day off in Holland?
No matter what the weather, nothing beats a walk on the beach! The two-mile walk along the water’s edge between Holland State Park and Tunnel Park is fabulous any time of year!  In the fall, I particularly like to climb to the top of Mt. Pisgah, a 157 foot sand dune that towers above Lake Michigan.  It’s 230 steps to the top, with a panoramic view of Lake Michigan and Lake Macatawa that is second to none.  Once you reach the top, there’s a boardwalk that connects to the State Park ridge trails. And of course there is nothing more magnificent than a Lake Michigan sunset!

Tunnel Park Sunset. Credit: Dennis Geppert

Q: Where can people go for more information about things to do in the Holland area?
If folks are in town, they can stop by the Holland Visitors Bureau at 78 East 8th Street in downtown Holland. Our mascot, Lucy the Pug, will be waiting to greet them!  Online they can find us at, also accessible via their mobile device, or they can call us toll-free at 800.506.1299. No matter how people contact us, a warm Dutch “Welkom” awaits!

Will you be at Tulip Time in Holland? Let us know what you’re looking forward to seeing while in town!

Sally Laukitis is Executive Director of the Holland Area Visitors Bureau. She loves “everything Holland”, especially hanging out at the beach on a hot summer day.

Along Lake Michigan

How much can you discover in one day? Joshua Nowicki, a St. Joseph local, recently found out as he explored the coast of Lake Michigan earlier this fall. Today, Joshua shares his experience with us.

Read about it below and let us know where your favorite place to take a day trip in Michigan is!

Kite surfer near Muskegon, Michigan

Michigan’s Great Lakes feature an astounding number of parks and nature preserves.  Equally amazing is how few of them I have had the opportunity to visit despite being a lifelong Michigander.

So often when I travel, I concern myself with the amount of time that it is going to take for me to get from Point A to Point B.  I have stubbornly ignored dozens of billboards and Pure Michigan signs encouraging me to “Stop, slow down, and enjoy Michigan’s beauty along the way.”

This has been a folly of mine, and this is a wrong that I intend to right.  I recently decided to start taking day trips that do not have set destinations and let the sun determine how far I travel.  I want to focus on all of the ‘places in between’ that I have overlooked in the past and gain a deeper appreciation for my home state.

Holland, Michigan

For my first trip, I wanted to find out how many parks and nature preserves I could visit along the coast of Lake Michigan in one day.  Between busy work days, I planned an adventure, part personal challenge and part scavenger hunt.  How many different locations along Lake Michigan could I photograph? 

I started in the early morning at the City Beach in New Buffalo and completed my journey with a beautiful sunset at Pioneer County Park in Muskegon.  Along the way I visited 24 additional locations, many of which I had never even heard of before.

A few highlights:

  • Enjoyed watching deer walk across foggy dunes at Warren Dunes State Park
  • Talked with fishermen on the pier at Silver Beach County Park while standing under the monumental sculpture ‘And You, Seas’ by Richard Hunt
  • Delighted at seeing the Friends Good Will Tall Ship in South Haven.  
  • Waded in the water and rested on the beach at Pier Cove Park.
  • Watched sailboats near Saugatuck.
  • Stood amazed by the breathtaking view of Lake Michigan from Tunnel Park.
  • Felt exhausted and accomplished after walking the trails at Rosy Mound Natural Area.
  • Marveled at the patterns in the windblown sands of P.J. Hoffmaster State Park.
  • Enjoyed the view of the autumn leaves and Lake Michigan from Muskegon State Park Blockhouse.
  • Stood in awe of the paddle and kite surfers at multiple locations throughout my trip.
  • Relaxed on the beach at the end of the day and enjoyed the sunset from Pioneer County Park.

    Pioneer County Park, Muskegon, Michigan

My trip was fun, beautiful and tiring.  I hiked miles through woodland trails, over sand dunes and climbed thousands of steps on boardwalks.  I intend to return to and spend more time hiking the trails, wading in the water and appreciating all of the new destinations I have newly ‘discovered’ close to home. 

I look forward to my next road trip along the Great Lakes in Pure Michigan… See you there!

Joshua Nowicki is the Director of Community Relations at the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph, Michigan and is a member of the board of directors of the Michigan Museums Association where he serves as the Vice President for Marketing.  Joshua’s interest in photography began while working for a museum in the Metro Detroit area, photographing artifacts, exhibits and events.  After moving to St. Joseph, Michigan in 2011, he started taking nature photographs to encourage his friends and relatives to visit and enjoy the beauty and serenity of the area.  Joshua’s inspirations range from Lake Michigan and wildlife to sculpture and architecture.

Tulip Time in Pure Michigan

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: 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.