Later this week, West Michigan will be alive with spring blooms, as the Tulip Time Festival begins in Holland. For over 80 years, this small lakeside community has celebrated its Dutch heritage every spring, with hundreds of thousands of tulips, parades, concerts, and much more. This year’s event will run from May 7 through the 14th and you can check out specific events or download the festival brochure at the Tulip Time Festival website.
Tulip Time is unique among local community festivals – not only has it been celebrated since 1929, but it has a number of awards and accolades as well, including having been named as America’s Best Small Town Festival by Reader’s Digest, and one of the ‘Top 20 events in the world’ by the International Festival and Events Association. The festival’s mission statement basically says it all, “Holland Tulip Time Festival, Inc, stages a world-class festival and popular events for area residents and visitors that showcase the community and the tulip and celebrate Dutch heritage and culture.”
You don’t have to be Dutch in heritage to enjoy this festival, however! There’s plenty to do for people of all ethnicities, genders and ages. The annual Art & Craft Fair will be held this coming weekend, on May 7th and 8th. There are also two carnivals, one of which runs for the duration of the festival (the other is just for opening weekend), with games, rides and fun for everyone. The Dutch Marketplaats offers Dutch food, folk dancing, period crafts, costumes, shopping and stage activities as well as a true Town Crier Competition on May 6th. And on Saturday, May 7th, the sky will be lit up by a fireworks show set to the music of POST530, a “high energy classic rock band that features former Ted Nugent guitarist, Verne Wagoner”.
Tulip Time offers events specifically for kids as well, including the Kinderplaats (this weekend, May 7-8) which has entertainment, arts & crafts, a petting zoo, Dutch Dancing, and more ($6/kids, adults are free). Other events that kids might enjoy include the Street Performers on May 13th, the Kids Fun Run on May 7th (there’s also a 5K and a 10K for adults as well), and the Vintage Baseball Match (May 7th).
Parades and Dutch Dancing
One of the truly Dutch events during Tulip Time is the annual Volksparade, which will be held this year on May 11th. And afterward, you can stay to watch hundreds of people in Dutch costumes take to the streets to scrub them clean with brooms as well. Then don’t forget to come back the next day, on May 12th, for the Kinderparade, with over 7,000 area schoolkids and marching bands.
You can find Dutch Dance performances taking place during every day of Tulip Time, including Kinder Dutch Dance which involves local children in the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. The dancers’ costumes are handmade locally and each one is inspected before it can be worn – the costumes are patterned after traditional Dutch dress.
The schedule of events for Tulip Time, as well as information about the local area and more, can be found at http://www.tuliptime.com. You can also find out more about the festival by following on Twitter or becoming a fan on Facebook as well. Holland is a beautiful area during any time of the year, with Lake Michigan beaches, lots of shopping and more!