The Tulip Festival in Amsterdam is the ultimate celebration of spring in Holland. Thousands of tulips bloom in more than 80 locations across the city and its outskirts, bringing Amsterdam to life with their incredible beauty and colour.
The tulip is one of the most enduring symbols of the Netherlands. Whether you visit in spring for the festival, or at another time in the year, there will always be an opportunity to discover more about the national flower of Holland.
Want to know more? Then read on to find out about the history of Tulips in Amsterdam and what kind of tulip-related activities you can do during the Tulip Festival and throughout the year.
Why are tulips so popular in Amsterdam?
Tulips were imported into Holland in the sixteenth century from the Ottoman Empire (present day Turkey). During the Dutch Golden Age, the multi-coloured flowers were increasingly coveted. Featuring heavily in the art and cultural celebrations of the time, tulips eventually became so popular that they created the first economic bubble known as ‘Tulip Mania.’
Today, the tulip fields of Amsterdam are still going strong with millions of flowers grown each year. According to current estimates, an incredible nine out of ten tulips are exported from the Netherlands!
When is the Tulip Festival in Amsterdam?
Holland’s long spring season with its cool nights provide ideal conditions for tulip growing. The Tulip Festival Amsterdam officially runs from the 1st to the 30th April so if you’re hoping to see Tulips in Amsterdam at their most bright and beautiful, it’s a good idea to plan your visit during this time.
What happens during the Tulip Festival?
During the Tulip Festival in spring there’s a chance to see beautiful tulips blooming at 85 locations across Amsterdam. All displays in public areas such as the ones in front of the Rijksmuseum and the EYE Film Museum next to ClinkNOORD are free to enjoy. In some museum gardens normal ticket prices apply.
On the hunt for more unusual activities to do in Amsterdam? Check out our guide to the city’s hidden gems
Can you bring Tulips back from Amsterdam?
If you’re looking to bring tulip bulbs back from Amsterdam to your home country, we would advise you to check your countries’ website for environmental protection before you travel.
Generally, though, flower bulbs staying within the European community can be exported throughout Europe without any issues. If you’re travelling to countries outside of the EU like the USA or Canada, bulbs must have been checked by officers in the Netherlands to ensure they are thoroughly cleaned and free from soil. These bulbs are sealed and given a special ‘health certificate’ which should enable you to clear customs back home.
There are good times and bad times to buy tulip bulbs which you should be aware of. Find out more about that in our ‘Buy some Blooms’ section below.
Now you know a little bit more about Tulips in Amsterdam, we’re going to tell you about some of our favourite Tulip-related activities in the city. Some of these are specifically related to the Amsterdam Tulip Festival in the spring, others you can happily do all year round.
1. Tour the colourful displays throughout the city
See Amsterdam come to life in the spring as over 80 colourful displays of tulips pop up all over the city
If you’re in the city during April, then you’ll want to put at least one day aside to tour the magnificent blooms on display as part of the Amsterdam Tulip Festival.
Over 80 venues throughout the city participate in the festival. From museums, to hotels, parks and private residences, each venue provides a unique backdrop for the colourful blooms.
If you’re staying with us at Clink, check out the huge tubs outside the EYE Film Museum on the edge of the IJ River as your first stop. Afterwards, jump on the ferry and explore some of the displays in the city centre. End your tour in the gorgeous green space of Vondelpark. If the weather is good, why not bring a picnic and spend the afternoon soaking up all the beauty? Check out the full list of participating locations here.
Opening Hours & Admission:
Displays in public locations can be viewed at any time for free. For museums or private residences, please check individual websites
2. Visit the Keukenhof Gardens
Take a daytrip out of the city centre to experience the incredible beauty of the famous Keukenhof Gardens
Planning to visit during the spring? Then a visit to Keukenhof Gardens in Amsterdam has to be on your to do list. Every Autumn, more than 7 million bulbs are planted here which, when the warmer weather rolls around, bloom to magnificent effect. The journey from Amsterdam to Keukenhof takes around one hour by bus.
This year, Keukenhof will celebrate its 70th year of opening. In line with this, the theme for 2019 is ‘Flower Power.’ The inspiration gardens, events and artworks will transport you back to the 1970’s in their all their colourful glory.
Covering 32 hectares of ground and 15 kilometres of footpaths, you can easily spend a few hours – or even a whole day – wandering around these gorgeous gardens. To avoid the bigger crowds, head along before 11am or after 3pm. The light at these times is also perfect for photos.
21 March till 19 May 2019
Monday – Saturday: 8am – 7.30pm
Sunday: 8am – 7pm
Admission: If you’re staying at Clink, buy your ticket at reception for just 38 EUR. Includes direct return travel, 1 hour bus journey with audio + visual guide + Fast track entry to the festival
Check out the Amsterdam Keukenhof Gardens with Mr Carrington below:
3. Buy some Blooms
Whether you’re visiting in the spring or not, there will always be an opportunity to buy some kind of blooms in Amsterdam!
If you’re looking to buy tulips in Amsterdam, there are plenty of places to go. Maybe you’re staying in an apartment with friends and you’d like to treat them to a nice bunch of flowers for letting you stay? Or perhaps you’d like to take some tulip bulbs back to your own country to plant them in your garden? The Amsterdam Flower Market is perhaps the most famous place to buy tulips in Amsterdam. Founded in 1862, the small shops of Bloemenmarkt are housed inside a row of floating barges. Only a few now sell fresh flowers, but you’ll also find small shops where you can pick up Dutch souvenirs.
When buying flowers in the city, we like to visit one of our favourite local, independent florists. Bloemenweelde Amsterdam is a great little shop that offers a friendly and personal service.
You should be aware that the right months to buy real tulip bulbs in Amsterdam are September, October and November. Steer clear of anyone trying to sell you bulbs at other times. Many reputable gardening websites even sell bulbs online and will deliver them in time for planting season.
De Clercqstraat 112-114
PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Monday – Friday: 8am – 6pm
Saturday: 8am – 5pm
4. Visit the flower fields
See the fields of Amsterdam in all their colourful glory as hundreds of thousands of tulips come into bloom
The Tulip Fields around Amsterdam are a sight to behold come spring. The farmers tending to these vast fields are growing bulbs to be sold all around the world. The flowers themselves will not go to market, so they can be enjoyed for much longer. If you’re visiting Keukenhof, there is a place near the entrance where you can rent bikes. From here, you can tour the beautiful flower fields of the surrounding areas. Cycling is a great way to explore these areas as you can cover more ground than you would walking. Here’s one possible route you can take which will lead you past some of Amsterdam’s most gorgeous tulip fields. We recommend visiting in the second half of April as this is when the blooms are likely to look their best.
If you’re visiting in winter, no need to miss out! There are special tours which take you behind the scenes of a tulip greenhouse where flowers are grown all year round.
When you visit is really up to you. Like Keukenhof though, we think that it’s nice to see flowers in the morning or early evening.
5. Watch the flower parade
Experience the colour and excitement of Bollenstreek, a flower themed parade that winds its way from Lisse to Haarlem
What better way to celebrate the coming of spring than with a big flower parade? Participants spend weeks building huge floats decorated with beautiful spring flowers. Come April, these impressive floats will wind their way past flower fields near Lisse, along Keukenhof boulevard and ending in the historic Dutch town of Haarlem.
This year Bollenstreek is held on Saturday 13th April. Thousands of locals and visitors alike will line the parade route to take in the spectacle.
Unless you’re planning to watch the parade from Keukenhof there’s no need to buy a ticket as the parade is free to watch. Along the route there are plenty of opportunities to grab food and drink and enjoy lots of other entertainment from musicians and street performers. For more information and to see the full route, click here.
The parade runs from 9am – 9pm
6. Learn more about the history of Tulips in Holland
Get clued up about the Netherland’s most famous flower at the cute and quirky Tulip Museum
Whatever time of year you’re in Amsterdam, you can always pay a visit to The Tulip Museum. Located in an old townhouse just around the corner from Anne Frank’s Huis, this is a small and quirky museum where you can find out more about the history of tulips in Amsterdam. For the green fingered, there is also in-depth information about how Holland’s most famous flowers are grown.
There is a nice mixture of small and colourful exhibitions making use of pictures, dioramas and a short movie. There’s also a lovely little giftshop with a selection of tulip-inspired souvenirs. So even if you can’t take back fresh blooms or bulbs, you can pick up a small memento to remind you of your time in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam Tulip Museum
PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Opening Hours: Mon – Sunday: 10am – 6pm
Admission: €5 Adults, €3 students
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