If you’re a freshman or sophomore who isn’t from Holland, chances are you’ve never been to Tulip Time before. The Tulip Time Festival is a 92-year-old annual experience that celebrates the hundreds of thousands of tulips that bloom in the spring. The festival features national entertainment acts, events and activities for all ages, and some of the largest parades in Michigan. “My favorite event is the food trucks and my favorite memory is when my mom bought me a monster bag of cotton candy,” said Elisabeth Salazar (’24). “I think I will miss the Artisan Market most because my family and I walk through there every year just to look or buy something on a whim, but it’s time we spend together [I remember].” Salazar, who is pursuing a degree in engineering, has attended the Tulip Festival at least seventeen times and recalled half-days at school when “kids could march in the parade and high schoolers would learn a Dutch dance to perform during the parade.”
“My favorite events would have to be the Saturday parades and Dutch Dance performances,” said Maya Rangel-Clawson (’24). “My favorite memory is Dutch Dancing on the streets with my high school group. I’m going to definitely miss the parades and the carnival.” Rangel-Clawson, who is pursuing a major in social work and a minor in Spanish, has been to the festival every year since she was young.
The festival was canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic but is returning this spring with an admittedly pared-down but still impressive schedule, which was released on March 2 by the Tulip Time organization.
What has changed? The Tulip Time Run, which typically takes place at Kollen Park, will now take place virtually. This allows registrants, who will receive a participant bib and medal, to join the run from wherever they’d like. The popular Artisan Market, which has previously taken place in Central Avenue’s Centennial Park, will also be going virtual. Talented artisans will be able to display their unique wares on the Tulip Time website from Saturday, April 24, through the end of the festival on May 9. Unfortunately, there will be no Quilt Sale this year, but the annual Quilt Raffle is still in the works! Tickets will be available for purchase at the Tulip Time Office, Holland Visitors Bureau and Apothecary Gift Shop. Buy one to get a shot at winning a beautiful handmade quilt, which has already been made and will be on display in the window of Apothecary Gift Shop. Canceled for this year are parades, outdoor Dutch Dance performances, the carnival and any indoor, seated events.
Despite these changes, a few events are on track to remain in-person. The Michigan Maritime Museum will continue its dockside tours of their tall ship “Friends Good Will,” which will sail into town and dock on the north wall of Boatwerks Restaurant. No advance registration is required, and tickets will be available for less than $10 per person. The beloved Yoga in the Tulips event at Window on the Waterfront, as well as walking tours throughout Downtown Holland, will also continue. These events will be timed and ticketed to control capacity and limit any spread of COVID-19. “Those two-mile tours will walk through our historic sites and downtown, and it’ll end at the start of Window on the Waterfront,” said Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda. “These walking tours will be smaller groups, and there will be at least six offered per day. You’ll have a costumed guide.” Visitors can also take part in the Tulip Time Scavenger Hunt, which will be free.
As always, visitors will also be able to peruse the thousands of tulips on display, according to the Holland Sentinel. The Windmill Island Gardens, Tulip Lanes, Centennial Park, Window on the Waterfront, Nelis’ Dutch Village and Veldheer Tulip Gardens will all be exhibiting the beautiful flowers.