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Family Vacations: Tulip Time Festival

The Holland Harbor Lighthouse (Big Red) can be seen from across the Holland                                  channel at Holland State Park.
The Holland Harbor Lighthouse (Big Red) can be seen from across the Holland channel at Holland State Park.

The roots of the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan, reach back to 1846 when 60 Calvinist separatists departed Holland for the New World. Fast-forward to 1927, when Holland High School biology teacher Lida Rogers brought up the idea of celebrating the town's hardy forebearers with a festival. The city council purchased 100,000 tulip bulbs and sold them to Hollanders for a penny apiece. In 1929, the tulips bloomed, and the annual Tulip Time Festival began. Today Tulip Time attracts one million visitors annually to a town of barely more than 35,000.

Year-round touchstones of Holland include the restored Victorian downtown and cobblestoned Dutch Village. Also worth a visit are Holland's Veldheer Tulip Gardens, the De Zwaan Windmill (a 12-story, 240-year-old import from the Netherlands), Holland State Park, and "Big Red," the Holland Harbor Lighthouse.

Tulip Time begins each May with a town crier walking through the city, hollering, "The streets are dirty, and they must be scrubbed!" whereupon cadres of costumed scrubbers begin to wash the streets to traditional Dutch standards. Then there's the Dutch Market, fireworks, Dutch and pop concerts, Klompen dancing -- and for a historically accurate clean-up, more street scrubbing.

Tulip Time Festival Information

Address: Holland Civic Center

150 W. 8th St

Holland, MI

Telephone: 616/396-4221, 800/822-2770

Hours of Operation: First week in May

Admission: Cost varies

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Michigan State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Michigan, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.