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.