HOLLAND HOSTS THE WORLDS LARGEST TULIP FESTIVAL
2021 UPDATE: The Keukenhof is currently scheduled for 2021 starting Saturday 20 March through Sunday 9 May 2021 and plans are underway for enhanced visitor safety procedures regarding covid-19.
Spring in Holland means flowers and the world’s largest garden and showplace is the Keukenhof Gardens with over 7 million spring flowering bulbs on display. There are also acres of commercial fields around the gardens growing tulips almost as far as you can see.
The gardens are located in Lisse only a short distance southwest of Amsterdam. The festival runs from mid March thru mid May and is serviced by special buses from Amsterdam airport with a combined ticket that includes entry and return fare. If you are staying in Amsterdam it’s easy to get there. Take a bus or tram to the Amsterdam Central Station and catch an express train directly to the airport. Once there it isn’t hard to figure out – just look for the crowds and the red buses. You can check with tour agencies or your hotel but that will probably cost you an extra $5 or $10 and you will end up traveling the same route anyway (bus, train, bus and return).
The Keukenhof is actually a trade fair where over one hundred growers display their flowers. The name actually means “kitchen garden” and the place is fondly referred to as the Garden of Europe. The annual event features restaurants and coffee shops along with gift shops. If you enjoy visiting gardens, do not miss this as it is like a theme park dedicated to flowers. The best thing is to anticipate a lot of people, go early in the day and be patient.
At the Keukenhof and the flower markets in Amsterdam, many people question if they can buy tulip bulbs and bring them back through U.S. Customs. The answer is yes and no. Some vendors sell bulbs specifically with U.S. and Canada certificates that allow them through. These are a small selection and many of the same items are readily available back in North America and often at a better price. A majority of the bulbs will not have the certificate and are not allowed to be brought back to North America.
If you are cruising across the Atlantic on a spring repositioning cruise headed for northern Europe, there is a good chance you will end up in Amsterdam around tulip festival time. Besides the Keukenhof, Amsterdam also has a city wide tulip festival around the same time that features dozens of gardens and grounds to visit, so be sure and add these to your plans.