Behind-the-Scenes of Tulip Time in Holland

From May 7-14, more than 500,000 people from around the world will travel to Holland, Michigan to experience the 2016 Tulip Time Festival. The festival features Dutch dance performances, concerts, theatre, food, parades and more – all of which take a lot of time and dedication to produce by the staff and a team of more than 800 volunteers.

Gwen Auwerda, Executive Director of the festival, gives us a sneak peek at what goes into the making of Tulip Time. 

In Holland, Michigan, we’ve had a cool spring and the tulips love it! The town is being spruced up from a long winter and the Tulip Time Festival staff and interns are busy with the finishing touches on all the great events, entertainment and parades.

Here are just some of the many things that happen behind-the-scenes in Holland as we prepare for the festival.

Prepping Pigs-in-a-Blanket

500 dozen pigs-in-a-blanket – a traditional Dutch food – were made by a group of volunteers from area churches.  “Pigs” as we call them are a sausage roll covered with pastry dough and served to thousands of visitors at Dutch Marktplaats along with the largest selection of traditional Dutch food in the City of Holland.  This is quite a time honored tradition for the churches.

Marching Band Practice

All of the bands are practicing their marching skills for the Saturday GMB Muziekparade, the longest parade in Michigan at 2.4 miles. This year, May 14th is the day of the GMB Muziekparade. The parade will feature over 4,000 participants.

Dutch Dance Rehearsals

Dutch Dance is another signature event during the festival.  The dancers typically learn the dance in high school and can continue dancing as an “alumni dancer” after graduation.  This year, we have 800 dancers who wear clothing representing the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Practices begin in January and the dancers spend 30 hours over the next 4 months learning the dance. This event is a visitor favorite and free!

We couldn’t put together an internationally known flower festival without our beloved volunteers.  It takes over 800 volunteers over an 8 day period to help with trash pickup, ushering at the shows, set-up, deliver potted tulips to the venues around the city, assist with the Tulip Time run, and the three parades.  It is because of the dedication of these volunteers that our city can host over 500,000 guests to Join the Dance!  We hope to see you in beautiful Holland for the 87th Tulip Time Festival.

Gwen Auwerda is the Executive Director of the Tulip Time Festival in Holland.

Are you heading to Tulip Time this year? Share with us below!

5 Ways to Experience Europe in Holland, Michigan


Photo courtesy of Holland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

You don’t need a passport to enjoy a true Dutch experience in Holland, Michigan! Immerse yourself in historic art and artifacts at the Holland Museum, tiptoe through the tulips in a city park, or kayak in the shadow of a 270-year-old working Dutch windmill.  Here are 5 favorite ways to experience historic and hip Holland without traveling overseas! 

5. History right here! Holland, Michigan was founded in 1847 by Dutch settlers, and you’ll find their stories woven into Holland’s rich historic fabric at the Holland Museum. A curated collection of Dutch history and artifacts tell the story of the immigrants and settlers who now call Holland home, while the 2nd floor Dutch Galleries showcase paintings by influential Dutch artists. The Cappon and Settlers Houses, restored homes of early Holland residents, depict contrasting lifestyles of our Dutch ancestors.


Photo courtesy of Holland Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

4. Windmill Island Gardens is home to DeZwaan Windmill, the only authentic working Dutch windmill in the United States. Stroll along the dikes, canals, and flower beds overflowing with more than 100,000 tulips. Tour
DeZwaan, and learn how our Dutch-certified miller grinds the local winter wheat into flour; enjoy performances of costumed-dancers in wooden shoes or take a spin on a hand-painted Dutch carousel.   2015 marks the 50th anniversary of DeZwaan in Holland, MI, and we’re celebrating with special events throughout the spring and summer.

3. “Klomping” in the streets! You won’t want to miss a performance by Holland’s famous “Dutch Dancers”! During the Tulip Time Festival over 1000 dancers hit the streets numerous times clad in authentic Dutch costumes and wooden “klompen” to entertain visitors and locals alike.  At Nelis’ Dutch Village, one of Holland’s popular Dutch attractions, you and your family can join in the fun and learn a few steps. And this year, during the Tulip Time festival, join the community at “Klomp the Record”, where we vie for the title of ‘Most People Dancing in Wooden Shoes at One Time’. More info here:

2. The food! Savor a taste of the Netherlands with delicious Dutch pastries handcrafted at DeBoer Dutch Brothers Cafe & Bakkerij, a fifth-generation Dutch bakery. Try the krakalingen, a figure-8 shaped butter cookie covered with a sprinkle of sugar or the banket, flaky pastry filled with a rich almond paste. And don’t forget to stop by the Thirsty Dutchman Pub for an imported Dutch bier (or a local microbrew!) at Nelis’ Dutch Village also home of the Hungry Dutchman Café, which serves traditional Dutch food.

1. Check out the tulips! More than 6 million tulips bloom in Holland each spring as we celebrate our annual Tulip Time Festival. This year’s festival is May 2 – 9. Drive the 6 miles of Tulip Lanes, stroll through Window on the Waterfront Park, city-owned growing fields with 80,000 tulips, or stop at Veldheer Tulip Gardens ablaze with 4,000,000 tulips. And remember…you don’t need a passport!

Five Stunning Pure Michigan Instagram Fan Photos from May

We’re constantly impressed by the photos fans share with us on social channels each day. This month, we saw a ton of stunning shots from the Pure Michigan Instagram community that were taken all across the state. Below is a roundup of just a few of our favorites. For more, see our March and April Instagram roundups and be sure to follow Pure Michigan on Instagram.

Photo taken by @kaityfischer in Oxford, Michigan:

Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan by @salwangeorgesphotography:

Photo taken by @lucaste on Yarrow Golf Course in Augusta, Michigan:

Pretty flowers in Dearborn, Michigan, captured by @angamime:

Breathtaking view of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Photo by @breenem:

If you’re on Instagram, follow us @puremichigan! If you’d like us to share your photos from across the state, please tag them with #PureMichigan to give us permission to repost.