From mid-April to the end of May, Holland welcomes visitors with a multicoloured ocean of flowers
Holland’s long springs and cool nights provide the perfect conditions for tulips to thrive. The well-drained, moist soil in the polders embraces the precious bulbs which by mid-March transform the Dutch countryside into a stunning multicoloured blanket of flowers that lasts until the end of May.
Most of the tulip fields in the Netherlands are in the Noordoostpolder, about 60 kilometres northeast of Amsterdam in Flevoland province. There are also bulb fields on the north coast, stretching from The Hague and Leiden to Alkmaar. Just fifteen minutes by car from Leiden and thirty minutes from Amsterdam you can visit Keukenhof flower park in Lisse, home to the largest flower show on the planet with more than seven million tulips. The park is open to the public from the end of March until mid-May. Another floral attraction just thirty minutes from the capital is Aalsmeer which hosts FloraHolland, the world’s largest flower auction.
The best time to see tulips in full bloom is in mid-April, although the tulip season lasts right through until mid-May. Getting there is easy by train or by bike as the flat roads make for a comfortable ride. What’s more, Holland’s long tradition of using bikes means cyclists are a common and respected presence on the road.
On the Atlantic coast, about thirty-five kilometres southwest of Amsterdam, is Bollenstreek, the flower-bulb region where field upon field of glorious flowers are a feast for the eyes. You can visit picturesque places like Noordwijk and Katwijk, the city of Leiden and quaint villages where flower growing is a treasured part of local culture. For example, Sassenheim, Hillegom, Noordwijkerhout and Lisse, where you can discover more about the world of tulips at the Museum De Zwarte Tul.
The region also hosts the annual Bloemencorso Bollenstreek flower parade featuring dozens of beautifully decorated floats adorned with thousands of flowers. The parade route starts its journey in Noordwijk and travels to Haarlem where they’re then put on display for a day in Grote Markt square so visitors can enjoy them close-up and at leisure.
The Dutch capital, Amsterdam, is beautiful all year round, but it is spring, in tulip season, that it truly bursts into colourful life. Growers transform Dam Square into an enormous tulip garden that thousands of people flock to see every year. Apart from the wonderful array of flowers, visitors can enjoy various events and surprises, plus they get to take home a free bunch of flowers.
In case you can’t make it at springtime, flowers, festivities and swathes of colour can also be enjoyed in the summer. This is when Keukenhof Castle garden is filled with one hundred and fifty different species of dahlias in bloom. The end of August sees the celebration of Dahlia Dagen (Dahlia Days). Check dates and their full programme of events on the Keukenhof Castle website: www.kasteelkeukenhof.nl/nl.
Also in August, this year from 12th – 14th August, you can see the Flower Parade Rijnsburg, one of the oldest flower parades in Holland. It sets off from Rijnsburg, passes through Katwijk and ends in Noordwijk aan Zee.