Keukenhof Tulip Festival
See nature at its most colourful at Keukenhof Gardens, the Netherlands
Drive to the Netherlands and explore its most vibrant garden
Each spring seven million buds break through the rich soil of Keukenhof Gardens and head skyward. Dutch growers produce spectacular displays – colourful carpets of interlaced flowers that dazzle the eyes and infuse the air with sweet scents.
Keukenhof is found in the town of Lisse, in the south of Holland, just four hours' drive from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais terminal. Drive to Lisse and discover rare species of tulips, an impressive collection of orchids, vibrant daffodils, more than 2,700 trees and a spring garden covering 32 hectares. Capture your favourite flower displays, inspirational gardens and works of art on camera to amaze your friends and family back home.
You don't need an encyclopaedic knowledge of bulbs to appreciate this flower festival and there are lots of attractions within Keukenhof Park. Meet the farm animals at the outdoor wildlife zoo, challenge yourself to find the centre of the maze and keep the kids occupied at the children's playground. You'll find other iconic Dutch sights within the park including a 19th century windmill.
The Netherlands produces nine billion flower bulbs a year, that's enough for two bulbs for every person on the planet! And, it accounts for 90% of global trade in flower bulbs with the biggest of these in export being Tulips. The unofficial symbol of the nation, the Tulip caused an economic bubble known as 'tulip mania' during the 17th century when it became a coveted luxury item and the price skyrocketed.
In 1937, some single tulip bulbs were reported to have reached a price equivalent to 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. Buyers revolted and a sudden price collapse soon followed.
However, it didn't all start there. The first tulip bulbs were sent to Vienna by Ogier de Busbecq (Imperial ambassador of the Ottoman Empire) from Turkey in 1554. They were then distributed and cultivated across the United Provinces (now the Netherlands) and the rest is history. These exotic bulbs took well to the flatlands of the Netherlands where the soil is rich, the climate mild and there is good drainage so the bulbs don't rot.
Keukenhof 2014 runs from March 20th to May 18th. The park is open daily from 8am until 7.30pm (ticket office closes at 6pm). The Flower Parade is held on Saturday 3 May. To save time and avoid queues at the ticket office, book your tickets in advance online. Entrance price: Adults: €15; Children (4-11 years) €7.50.
Where to Stay
With the popularity of this festival, it's wise to book as far in advance as possible. There are several hotels in and around Keukenhof to suit a range of budgets.
After your Keukenhof festival visit, take a road trip and explore the area while spring is in the air. Head out to the colourful countryside of the Dutch bulb region and see tulip fields stretching out to meet the horizon.
The best way to explore Lisse and its surrounds is by bicycle. No cycling is allowed within the Keukenhof Park but you can hire a bike from the main entrance bus parking area and there are four marked routes to get you on your way. They differ in length (5km to 25km) giving you the freedom to decide how challenging you want your cycle to be.
If you're the sporty type or feeling particularly energetic you can opt for the longer 35km 'bulb route'. Or, if you're travelling with family, try one of the shorter routes for a leisurely ride suitable for youngsters. Visiting with your partner? Rent a tandem bike for a romantic cycle past fields of flourishing flowers without fear of losing each other.
With a bit of forward planning you can book a guided tour for yourself and your companions to Castle Keukenhof (open between 21st October and 21st March). Located opposite the park, the castle reopened its doors in 2012 following a revamp. Browse the hanging painted portraits to decipher the history of its inhabitants and explore its luxurious interior to see how lords and ladies lived. Call 0252 750 690 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a tour.
Drive to Keukenhof and its surrounding area: it's a great spring destination to see nature at its most colourful and the perfect family day out.
Getting there and around
Keukenhof is approximately four hours' drive from Eurotunnel Le Shuttle's Calais terminal along the E40 and A16. Lisse is only half an hours' drive (about 25km southwest of Amsterdam) from The Hague, Amsterdam and Harrlem. Follow the signs around Keukenhof Park for parking which costs €6 per vehicle.