It’s been 93 years since Holland High School biology teacher Lida Rogers encouraged the school of predominantly Dutch-American students to connect and celebrate their heritage. At a Women’s Literary Club meeting, Rogers proposed the idea of planting tulips in every yard to pay homage to Holland’s Dutch immigrants who came en masse Michigan’s west coast. She titled her talk “Civic Beauty.”
In 1928, just six years after the West Michigan Pike was completed in its entirety, Holland’s mayor appropriated funds to purchase and plant 100,000 tulip bulbs. Since the tulips first bloomed in May 1929, Tulip Time Festival has continued to evolve and maintain cultural relevancy with events and activities that celebrate Holland’s vibrant community.
“Today, Tulip Time Festival means 5 million tulips, parades, Dutch dancers, and celebrating Lida Rogers’ vision to bring tulips to Holland and the community’s rich Dutch heritage,” said Linda Hart, executive director of Holland Area Visitors Bureau. “The tulips are just stunning.”
The flowers are planted across city parks, curbside beds, yards and attractions like Windmill Island Gardens. Visitors come to the nine-day festival from all 50 states — an average estimated attendance of 500,000 annually. Tulip Time’s free community events remain the most popular: parades, Dutch Dance performances and artisan markets.
“We’re so looking forward to getting back to having a full festival again after two years of alternative festivals,” said Gwen Auwerda, executive director of Tulip Time Festival. “We have a lot of new things happening, but we’re very excited to have our parades, Dutch dancers and tulip lanes back — and to be able to invite locals and visitors alike to enjoy everything about our small town.”
This year, Tulip Time is commemorating Holland’s ties to the Netherlands with traditional Dutch flair, as well as some modern music. Don’t miss these new events:
Holland Armory, May 7–15, 2022
“Zeeland Girl” by Rem van den Bosch brings together the history of Dutch tradition and modern Dutch culture, engaging visitors in discussions about how we treat each other and the environment.
The Journey of the Tulip
Ottawa County Fairgrounds, May 7–15, 2022
Across three displays, world-famous horticulturist Ibo Gülsen will use 50,000 tulips of all varieties to tell the story of how tulips journeyed from Turkey to the Netherlands to Holland, Michigan.
Holland Civic Center, May 14, 2022
Singer and songwriter Chase Bryant will be the first Top 100 country music artist to perform at the Tulip Time Festival. Last year, Bryant released his debut full-length album, “Upbringing.”
All photos courtesy of Tulip Time Festival