Michigan's Small Town Treasures: Tiptoe Through the Tulips

by Julie Royce /
Julie Royce's picture
Apr 16, 2009 / 2 comments

Tiptoe Through the Tulips...

And Enjoy a Bit of History along the Way

Memory is a funny thing. Of the myriad of experiences I have enjoyed, endured, or embraced in my lifetime, one of my earliest and dearest is a day trip I took with my parents to Holland, Michigan. Perhaps I remember it so fondly because I was only four years old and still an only child getting mom and dad’s undivided attention. More likely, even at that young age, I was simply overwhelmed by the wild array of colors flaunted by the millions of tulips.

I recall my father holding my hand as he guided me up narrow stairs into an old windmill where I could see miles of tulip fields dominating the landscape.  I recall posing in such a field for a Kodak moment (remember the old square Kodak camera?).  The resultant black and white photos may have reinforced my memories of the adventure but did not do justice to the kaleidoscopic color blaze of the actual event. I’ve returned several times over the years to recreate the magic.


Holland Tuliptime

The 2009 Annual Tulip Festival runs from May 2nd to May 9th and commemorates Holland’s 80th invitation for visitors to share in the splendor of one of the grandest of all small town festivals.  By the end of April , Michiganders are longing for spring. The hardy tulip signals survival of the brutal winter cold and brings the promise of warm summer days ahead.  The Tulip Festival allows us to shed our drab gray mindset and replace it with the vibrancy and hope of exciting things to come. The celebration officially begins with fireworks the evening of May 1st.

The flavor throughout the week-long event is Dutch and visitors can try the traditional krakelingen (cookies), sample Dutch Chocolates and Cheeses or track down a hutspot dinner (stew of carrots, potatoes, onion and meat) at one of many fine restaurants.

Three parades march through the festivities: the Volksparade, the Kinderparade, and the Musiekparade.  The Volksparade, scheduled May 6th at 2:00 p.m., is preceded at 1:15 pm with a street scrubbing by hundreds of Holland residents dressed in traditional Dutch costumes paying their respect to their forefathers’ tradition of cleanliness.  Carrying brooms, mops and buckets, it becomes their duty to make sure the parade route sparkles for the dancers and bands that will follow them.


Holland Tuliptime


May 7th at 2:00 pm, the Kinderparade offers local school children a chance to strut their stuff and show visitors a bit of the Dutch history. Their smiling faces will beguile and charm you. Finally, on May 9th at 2:00 pm, the Musiekparade, with balloons, floats, horses, dancers, and dozens of marching bands, brings the festival to a lively, if somewhat noisy, end.

Parades are but one highlight of the week’s activities. Concerts dot the entertainment landscape and will include well-recognized performers like Bobby Vinton and the Oak Ridge Boys.  A special tribute to the Beatles will have everyone singing along and remembering the 1960s.

While in Holland find time to enjoy the Holland Museum, Cappon House and the Settlers’ Museum. The Holland Museum showcases Dutch history and heritage and boasts a children’s room and special exhibits.  Cappon House is the Victorian home of Holland’s first mayor and it contrasts sharply with the one room, working-family’s Settlers’ House.

Unique shopping, galleries, parks, sculpture and beaches all provide additional ways to fill every spare moment of your schedule.  Enjoy and don’t forget to take your new-fangled digital camera.

For further information go to http://tuliptime.org/


Holland Tuliptime


All photos courtesy and copyright of http://tuliptime.org.



Julie Albrecht Royce, Michigan Editor, is the author of Traveling Michigan's Sunset Coast and Traveling Michigan's Thumb, both published by Thunder Bay Press. She writes a bi-weekly column (monthly in winter) for wanderingeducators.com, entitled Michigan's Small Town Treasures.



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Comments (2)

  • monacake

    15 years 3 months ago

    it all sounds so wonderful i don't know what i would do first. thanks for the tour!

  • Tom Voigts

    15 years 3 months ago

    I've attended the TulipFestival for years as it's second largest floral festival in the US.  It is a week of beautiful tulips and the Dutch heritage.  It's a must see, but be prepared for the crowds.  Lots of people attend.  Thanks for writing the article about something I generally take for granted as it is close.  Tom

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