Five Reasons to Go to the Tulip Time Festival

For nearly 90 years people have gathered each May in Holland, Michigan to celebrate Dutch culture and tulips.

The city has over six million tulips in bloom throughout the city that is situated on the Great Lakes.  This festival, heralded as the best “flower festival” in the United States offers many more things than the colorful array of tulips that pop up everywhere.  If you are going for the first time or a repeat visitor here are five things not to be missed. Tours of Distinction is offering an eight-day escorted tour that ensures visitors don’t miss out on the fun.

Colorful Costumes

Nearly everyone that lives in Holland Michigan has ancestral ties to the Netherlands; here Dutch Culture is alive and well. The Netherlands is divided into 12 provinces and 8 are represented by the type of costume worn at this festival. Costumes are sewn by hand and can cost as much as $200; often they are altered and handed down generation to generation.  The clothing worn at the festival has to be approved by the Festival Costume Directors and are styled to clothes worn in the mid.-1800s.  Costumes are on display at Field’s Fabrics for those what would like to view them in person.   Dutch Provinces represented at the festival include Spakenburg, Friesland, Zeeland, Noord, Overijssel, Gelderland, Flevoland, and Groningen.

Dutch Dancing

The dancing Dutch!

Wooden Shoes

Klompen or clogsGet ready to hear wooden shoes pounding the pavement as school children and adults perform traditional Dutch dances…the sound is totally unique and unforgettable.  This tradition goes back to 1935 when the first high school girls, called “Klompen Dancers” performed at the Tulip Time Festival. Today, there are nearly 1,000 costumed locals that perform traditional dances that last anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.  A highlight after some of the dance performances is a 10-minute style display that showcases the colorful Dutch costumes.

The Dutch have been wearing wooden shoes, sometimes called clogs or “Klompen” since medieval times. Originally, they were made with a wooden sole and a leather strap tacked onto the wood. Eventually, the shoes were made entirely of wood in order to protect the whole foot. Alder, willow and poplar wood was used to make clogs. The unique clicking sound made by clogs when walking is thought to have inspired traditional Dutch dancing.
There are many different ways clogs can be finished, some are brightly painted with traditional Dutch scenes and, the more expensive clogs are painted and carved.  Clogs are easy to get in and out of and if you get a good fit and wear them with heavy woolen socks they can be quite comfortable.

  • Travel Tip - At the DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory you can watch these iconic shoes being made from blocks of solid poplar wood; it is a fascinating process to watch. You can talk with artists as they carve shoes on machines that were imported from the Netherlands.

Delftware

DelftwareThe iconic cobalt blue and white Delft faience produced mainly in the town of  Delft in South Holland dates to the 17th century.  Historically, unlike expensive Chinese porcelain, Delft blue is not made from typical porcelain clay;  but from clay that is coated with a tin glaze after it is fired. This iconic pottery is known for its vivid shades of blue that depict floral motifs, natural landscapes, and historical or biblical iconography.  

Items made in Delft are usually kitchenware, vases, tiles and various object d’art.  There is a wide range of prices and products of various quality and buyers attending the Tulip Time Festival have the choice of purchasing imitation delftware, modern delftware, and antique delftware.  

  • Travel Tip - Be on the lookout for the studio where skilled artisans paint traditional scenes onto pottery that ranges from pins and vases to salt shakers, plates and platters. Talk to artists as they hand paint Dutch designs and glaze each item for the perfect sheen.

Dutch Cheese 

Dutch cheesesTraditionally, Dutch cheese farmers brought their cheeses to the market square to sell in teams of cheese carriers.  Each team wore a different colored straw hat depending on the cheese guild they belonged to. Along with windmills and tulips, the Frisian cows are very much a part of Dutch culture and so is their cheese.  The Tulip Time Festival doesn’t disappoint when it comes to Dutch cheeses.  

Be on the lookout for Gouda, Edam, Maasdammer, Leidsekaas, Kanterkaas and Komijnekaas with their tasty cumin seeds to counteract the salty flavor of these cheeses and Boerenkaas that is sometimes called farmhouse cheese.  If you liked smoked cheese try Rookkaas it has a distinctive brown rind and smokey taste and is shaped like a sausage.

Tour Highlights 

The Holland Tulip Festival Tour offered by Tours of Distinction from May 8-May 15, 2018  features three nights in Holland Michigan.

The tour also includes visits to:

  • The Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame
  • Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum
  • Cranbrook House and Gardens
  • Niagara Falls
  • A wine tasting at Ventosa New York State Vineyard 

A total of fourteen meals are included: seven breakfasts, one lunch, and six dinners in addition to a Tours of Distinction Professional Tour Director.

Learn more & book now!