Why not celebrate spring by going to the kind of festival that could be one of the most naturally colorful and enchanting of your life?  We’re talking about the kind where you can rejoice in the full intensity of spring’s beauty and re-energize yourself in its radiant ribbons of floral color.  We’re talking of course about going to a tulip festival, there to gambol knee-deep in heady rows of crimson, yellow, purple, orange, pink, and white tulips. Supplant (wink) those lingering winter doldrums with tulip mania!

In the Northern Hemisphere, armies of tulips are about to emerge from their dark, sleepy, frostbitten foxholes to reclaim large swaths of the world from winter’s grey grip with their massive, dazzling blooms. With their elegant, spear-like shape and flaming flowers that come in a rainbow of colors, they are well-suited to this ever-recurring battle against winter. And you can enjoy all of the multi-hued, soul-stirring drama, plus a myriad of related activities, at any one of the following three tulip festivals in the United States.

Kickin’ Up Big Color in Dutch Clogs (Woodburn, Oregon)

Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest

[image above “Outstand in the field” by Kirt Edblom on Flickr – licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]

Each year the Iverson family hosts this charming tulip festival on their Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, which is located in Woodburn, Oregon. It’s their way of inviting people to “…enjoy all things that make spring in the northwest.” This beautiful farm is home to 40 acres of tulips! That’s a huge tulip party, especially when you consider that an acre is about the size of an NFL football field! It’s so beautiful that families return year after year, whether they’re driving up from nearby, or decide to take cheap flights in March just to see the beautiful blooms.

Beauty That Carries You Away

Clearly, the stunning tulip bloom on the Iverson farm is an important part of what makes spring in the Northwestern United States. Just put yourself in a pair of their Dutch clogs for a moment. Imagine you’re standing there, probably in cold mud, in the midst of 40 acres of blazing tulips. Wherever you turn, you’re entranced by the brilliant bloom; you’re drunk on the crisp Woodburn air, honeyed as it is with the scent of tulips.

Fortunately, you can hang onto the sight of a nearby windmill, which anchors the dizzying, color-crazed landscape. And in the background, Mt. Hood sits big like Buddha, serene and reserved beyond the resplendent scene. There are times in your travels when you happen upon a place where you just have to say: “This is one of the loveliest areas on the planet.” And, this will definitely be one of them.

Plenty of Activities to Fill Your Day

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

[image above “2019 Wooden Tulip Shoe Festival” by Rick Obst on Flickr – licensed under CC by 2.0]

While taking in the tulips will be the highlight of your day, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest offers a variety of other activities as well.  You can:

► Picnic in Wooden Shoe Gardens, which has plenty of flowers but no tulips.

► Sample their wine in the Wooden Shoe Vineyards tasting room.

► Take tram and hay wagon rides.

► Set your kids free in the play area.

► See the wooden shoes being made (weekends only).

► Shop for gifts.

► Float away in a hot air balloon.

Cost

See the list of admission prices on the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm website.  Activities often have separate fees. Also, check their latest field report for the status of the bloom before you go.

You may also enjoy: 5 of the Best, Blooming Gardens to Bring in Spring!

Bountiful Pacific Northwest Beauty (Skagit County, Washington)

Skagit Tulip Festival: A Boy and Girl Wander Through a Tulip Field in Skagit Valley.

[image above “Tulips” by David Doan on Flickr – licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Washington has got to be on every tulip lover’s radar. Like a lot of good things, it began as a kind of grassroots movement (wink).

Some time ago, a bunch of people started making pilgrimages each spring to the private working farms in Skagit Valley to see the spectacular blooms of daffodils and tulips. Noticing this, the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce decided to add entertainment and activities around the time of the tulip bloom, which was formalized as a tulip festival in 1984. Today, hundreds of thousands of people flock to the farms and festival activities, bringing millions of dollars in revenue to Skagit County.

The Tulip Farms

To get your fill of tulips and then some, there are two farms that you must visit. Go to Tulip Town, which is a farm owned by Anthony (Tom) DeGoede, to view the display gardens. You can also visit the big tulip garden at RoozenGaarde, which is owned by the Washington Bulb Company, one of the largest tulip bulb growers in the United States. After strolling the beautiful gardens, take a trolley ride through their nearby tulip fields. (Unfortunately, they don’t allow you to walk through the fields here.)

[image above “Garden of Color” by Steve Cyr on Flickr – licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0]

The RoozenGaarde display garden is huge, covering about 5 acres of farmland with the blooms of nearly a ½ million hand-planted tulip bulbs. It boasts 150 varieties of tulips laid out in intricate designs, and you can wander among them along paths. It’s a garden fit for royalty. This farm also offers a 25-acre tulip field and a 22-acre daffodil field nearby its garden.  (The daffodils bloom in March, before the tulips, but if you’re lucky you might catch a bit of bloom overlap.)

After taking in the garden, you can walk into the nearby fields; or, you can drive out to their many other fields in the valley. RoozenGaarde has about 1,000 acres of blooms in the valley, most of which are tulips. (The tulips are harvested twice each year: once in the spring for their flowers and then again in the fall for their bulbs.) Before driving out to the fields though, consult their bloom map, which indicates each field that’s in bloom with a colored tulip.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival Pink Field Photo by Andrew E. Larsen

[image above “Pinkness” by Andrew E. Larsen on Flickr – licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0]

Events in the Valley

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival organization schedules and coordinates a number of events and activities throughout the valley in April to celebrate the bloom. Many of them occur in the city of Mount Vernon where the festival organization also maintains its office, but others occur in Anacortes, Burlington, and La Conner. It’s all a bit decentralized. Other popular activities or places to visit here include:

The Skagit Farm to Pint Festival

The Pickle Barn Art Show

► Scavenger hunts

►Flower bed design contests

►Bulb planting seminars

The Cost

See the admission prices for these farms on the tulip festival’s website.  Other activities may have their own fees. Check the RoozenGaarde bloom map for updates on the bloom before you go.

A City Celebrates Its Dutch Heritage (Holland, Michigan)

Tulip Time in Holland Michigan Tulips in Downtown Photo by Rachel Kramer

[image above “DSC04891” by Rachel Kramer on Flickr – licensed under CC by 2.0]

The origin of the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan goes back as far as 1929 when the Dutch settlers of this city planted the first crop of about 100,000 tulip bulbs, which they brought from their native Netherlands. Currently, in its 89th year, this festival spreads throughout this picturesque city on Lake Macatawa.

6 Million Tulips Pop Up All Over the City

Six million tulips! That’s one big bloom! You’ll find tulips popping up in fields, parks, household gardens, and in tulip lanes along as many as six miles of Holland’s streets. Here’s a list of some of the most popular viewing spots in the area:

Nelis’ Dutch Village

This replica of a Netherlands village is run by the third generation of the Nelis’ family. You can stroll among its buildings of authentic Dutch architecture, canals, and splendid gardens. There’s shopping, dining, and many activities for children such as a petting zoo. About 25,000 tulip bulbs bloom here each spring. You’ll want to visit on a day when their park is open. See the price of admission on their website.

Window on the Waterfront

This is a peaceful, multi-use, 30-acre municipal park on the south edge of the Macatawa marsh that contributes about 100,000 tulips to Holland’s massive bloom. And, you can tiptoe through them down to the paved pathway along the marsh where you can spot waterfowl. From there, you can also see the DeZwaan windmill, which is on Windmill Island Gardens, and take pictures through a window frame. Entry is free.

Veldheer’s Tulip Gardens

Tulip Time Festival Holland Michigan Veldheer Gardens Photo by Rachel Kramer

[image above “Veldheer Tulip Gardens” by Rachel Kramer on Flickr – licensed under CC by 2.0]

This is Holland’s only tulip farm perennial garden. It boasts about five million tulips and has many other flowers as well. Veldheer’s also breeds bison and sells bison meat. Delftware and Dutch clogs are also on sale. See the price of admission on their website.

Windmill Island Gardens

Visiting this island during Tulip Time gives you the feeling that you’re in the Netherlands. There’s a working windmill, organ, and a carousel here, all of which were transplanted from the Netherlands. The windmill is called DeZwaan (the swan), and you can take a guided tour of it. From the windmill’s balcony, you can look out over the beautiful gardens, fields of tulips, pretty little bridges, and canals. There are about 100,000 tulips bloom here. See the price of admission on their website.

Events Around the City

At Tulip Time, a whole host of activities go on all over Holland, Michigan in celebration of its Dutch heritage. There are concerts, carnivals, Dutch dancing, parades, art exhibits, tulip tours, painting parties, Dutch food, artisan markets, and much more. See the schedule of events for all of the details.

Some Other Places to Take in the Tulips

There are several other tulip festivals in the U.S. You might also consider visiting the Dallas Blooms Tulip Show at the Dallas Arboretum in Dallas, Texas, which boasts nearly 500,000 tulips, cooking classes, and live entertainment. Or, you could check out the Albany Tulip Festival in Albany, New York with events like the Royal Tulip Ball, the Tulip Queen Procession, and many more.

Tips for Attending a Tulip Festival

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival Rainbow of Color Photo by Kirt Edblom

[image above “Rainbow of Color” by Kirt Edblom on Flickr – licensed under BY-SA 2.0
]

Here’s some of our sage (wink) advice for seeing a tulip festival:

Beat the Crowds: Visit on a weekday. Keep in mind though that while the viewing will be more peaceful, you’ll not be able to do certain activities that are only offered on weekends.

Sleep on It:  Stay in a hotel for at least one night near the festival of your choice. This will give you a good chance to get into the fields early in the morning, an optimal time for viewing the lovely bloom.

Nature Calls the Bloom: Farmers manage the tulip farms; festival organizations determine the entertainment; but, only nature decides when the tulips will bloom. Generally speaking, tulips reach peak bloom in mid-April in some parts of North America and in early May in other parts.

Use the tulip tracking services of the festivals, or call them to keep on top of the bloom. If you miss the peak though, it’s not the end of the world as these festivals are packed with fun activities and are located in beautiful areas of the country where there are many other ways to get your fill of nature. So, remember to include other nature outings in your plans.

Don’t Get Stuck in the Muck: Wear casual clothing and a good pair of boots. The fields and farms you’ll be visiting can be quite muddy.

[Feature photo image “Field of Dreams” by Kirt Edblom on Flickr – licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]

What’s your favorite festival for bringing in spring? Let us know in the comments below. 

About The Author

Joseph Decibus writes for CheapOair and is also an avid traveler who occasionally writes about his trips. He looks forward to informing readers periodically about interesting places and events throughout the world.