Tulip Time is Back in 2021! Here’s How It’ll Be Different

Use only for Tulip Time Dutch dancers costumes

Feature image courtesy of Tulip Time.

Carnival, Dockside Tours and NEW Costume Exhibit & Market

Tulip Time in Holland, MI is the unofficial start to festival season for many Michigan residents. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate spring and the Dutch heritage that has shaped Holland over the years.

And this year after the 2020 festivals hiatus, everyone is extra excited for festival season to return! This year Tulip Time is running many in person experiences, and a few virtual ones, too.

What will you find at Tulip Time? Traditionally, you’ll find millions of tulips, concerts, carnivals, arts, food, fireworks and of course…parades!

Use only for Tulip Time girl high kicking Dutch dancer

This year, some of our old favorites are on a pause, while we also get to try some exciting new things for Tulip Time 2021.

Use only for Tulip Time credit Mike Lozen tulips and trees
photo courtesy of Mike Lozon

For up-to-date Tulip Time info, follow their Facebook page. Their events page also has a great calendar.

Tulip Time is May 1-9, 2021: Here’s What to Expect

Parades & Dutch Dancing are Absent, but There’s a new Dutch Costume & Market Exhibit

I’m just going to say what we are all thinking: we miss the Dutch Dancers and enchanting parades!! But Tulip Time has added something new this year while we wait patiently for some of our all-time faves to return.

For starters, you can still see the beloved Dutch Dancers – this time at the Civic Center for the new Dutch Costume Exhibit and Market. See these incredible, intricate costumes up close and marvel at how hard-working these costumes are as they’ve danced the streets in years past.

This is also where you can shop! Buy Dutch-inspired goods and Tulip Time merch at the Market. Did you know you can even order your own special tulip bulbs?? Can’t get more Dutch than that!

The Carnival is Running, as well as Tulip Tours, Dutch Village & Windmill Island

The Ferris wheel is waiting for you! Come down to the Tulip Time carnival for food, rides and probably lots of smiles and laughs. They’ve scaled down the midway for social distancing, but promise to have all the crowd favorites.

Use only for Tulip Time Carnival midway

And of course the most iconic, beautiful part of Tulip Time are the astonishing fields of tulips all around town. Walk the grounds for free on your own, or take a guided tour with a Dutch-costumed docent who teaches about Holland’s history as you are dazzled by the colorful gardens.

Great swaths of tulips can be found if you know where to look; both Window on the Waterfront and Centennial Park feature masses of tulip plantings. You’ll also find grand Tulip displays at Nelis’ Dutch Village and Windmill Island.

Use only for Tulip Time visitors in tulip fields

Maritime life is an integral part of Dutch history. Visitors can book dockside tours of a historic ship, and even private charters.

Use only for Tulip Time Tall Ships tours

Windmill Island Gardens is another favorite destination for Tulip Time visitors, with it’s authentic 250-year-old windmill from the Netherlands and fields of colors. You’ll also find replicas of historical buildings found in the Netherlands filled with costumed guides.

Kids will want to visit the children’s garden and playground and take a ride on the Dutch carousel.

Admission to Windmill Island is $5 kids 3-15 years old and $10 for adults. Windmill Island Gardens welcomes Meijer Gardens members (and other members of the American Horticultural Society), for free. 

(Note, the park is limited to 1,000 visitors at this time, so plan ahead.)

Use only for Tulip Time Windmill Island Gardens

Nelis’ Dutch Village You also can’t miss a visit to Nelis’ Dutch Village, where you can immerse yourself in Dutch village life, enjoy a Ferris wheel and other rides, a petting zoo and buy some wooden shoes!

With over 25,000 tulips, they are a great place to take pictures. Admission starts at $12.

Use only for Tulip Time Nelis Dutch Village

Virtual Events Include Artisans Market, Tulip Time Run & Princess Lida

Virtual events give people around the world the chance to participate in Tulip Time. I know when I shop artisan markets I often feel rushed by my kids or get overwhelmed at all the options and can’t remember all the amazing items I saw that I want. Now I can take my time and make sure I see all the beautiful items for sale. And I can even shop the sale if I live across the country.

The annual Tulip Time run has also gone virtual, and kids can see Princess Lida in her summer house while enjoying interactive video, coloring pages and activities at home.

Old Favorites of the Traditional Tulip Time Festival – Will we See Them Again?

Tulip Time was canceled in 2020 and has been reimagined in 2021. Below are our historic favorites of this world-renowned festival. We are curious to see if they will return once again in the traditional way, or if they, too, will be reimagined. What do you think?

A Look at Tulip Time in the Past

Tulip Time is full of old fashioned fun, which is perfect for kids. They will equally enjoy any of their four different parades and also delight in the Dutch dancers at Centennial Park.

Tulip Time Dutch Dance Parade Holland

After the spectator sports kids can have hands-on fun at Kinderplaats at the Civic Center or check out the Kinder Carnival in the Civic Center lot. And everything is surrounded by a riot of color as acres and acres of brightly-colored tulips carpet the entire town. This may be the most cheerful festival in the state!

It all goes out with a flash with fireworks on Saturday over Lake Macatawa near Kollen Park after dusk.

Several Parades at Tulip Time

The festival features three very different parades. The parades vary in length and time of day and many parents opt for parades that suit their kids’ interests and attention span.

Volksparade (People’s Parade)

The parade kicks off with Street Scrubbing featuring hundreds of residents and dignitaries dressed in Dutch costume and armed with brooms and pails, set to clean the streets before floats, bands and other entertainment rolls through. The whole event, with beautifully handcrafted floats and incredible bands, including Princess Lida and her friends, and lasts about 1-2 hours.

Kinderparade (Children’s Parade)

This parade features local school children dressed in Dutch costumes.

Muziekparade (Music Parade)

This parade features 4,000 participants including Dutch Dancers, floats and marching bands from throughout Michigan. This parade is the big finale parade!

Holland Tulip Time

Dutch Dancing at Centennial Park & Elsewhere

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Dutch dancing is performed throughout the festival. Dances are 5-15 minutes long and are either performed by adult or child (kinder) groups. Kids are invited into the street at the end of each dance.

Most Dutch Dances are at Centennial Park, but a few are held elsewhere  Here’s a list of Dutch Dancing times and locations.

Kinderplaats and the Carnival

Kinderplaats, held in the Civic Center the first weekend of Tulip Time, is designed for kids. This year is a STEAM focused innovation lab where kids will have hands-on fun with local robotics teams, art, Dutch heritage activities and more.

Carnival is just what you probably expect: rides, food and carnival attractions. Carnival is at the Holland Civic Center and runs the length of the festival.

Shopping: Marktplaats and Artisans Market

Kids don’t usually like shopping. That’s why we suggest bringing the kids to the Marktplaats over the Arts & Crafts fair.

Marktplaats brings 19th century Holland to life with entertainment, shopping, food and more. Admission is free. Marktplaats is located at the Civic Center.

And if you’re kid-free, the Artisans Market is pretty amazing.

See Great Tulip Displays

Great swaths of tulips can be found if you know where to look; both Window on the Waterfront and Centennial Park feature masses of tulip plantings. You’ll also find grand Tulip displays at Nelis’ Dutch Village and Windmill Island.

Use only for Tulip Time Ruth Dailey credit tulips downtown
Photo courtesy of Ruth Dailey

Special Tulip Time Tours and Destinations

Windmill Island Gardens An authentic, working Dutch windmill (that you can climb inside) is the centerpiece of 36 acres of gardens. You’ll also find replicas of historical buildings found in the Netherlands filled with costumed guides.

Kids will want to visit the children’s garden and playground and take a ride on the Dutch carousel.

Admission to Windmill Island is $5 kids 3-15 years old and $10 for adults. Windmill Island Gardens welcomes Meijer Gardens members (and other members of the American Horticultural Society), for free. 

Nelis’ Dutch VillageThis Dutch-themed park has fun rides for younger kids, a petting zoo, and a mini zip line. With over 25,000 tulips, they are a great place to take pictures. Admission starts at $12.

Tulip City Trolley Tour – Dutch-costumed guide narrates an hour-long tour including Tulip Lanes, Holland’s Historic District, city parks, and downtown.

Tips for Visiting Tulip Time in Holland

Call it a personal field trip and pull the kids out of school for the day (if you’re comfortable with that).

Many events happen during the week, such as the Children’s Parade. As a result, some parents take their kids out of school and visit Tulip Time on a weekday because crowd size is smaller during the week.

Tip #1 – Save Your Seats

There are three reserved seating options to make sitting down for all the fun a breeze.

  • Parade Patio seating – $30/person (Indoor/outdoor seating, bar service, access to Dutch/American buffet and indoor restrooms)
  • Grandstands Regular  – $12 bleacher seats.
  • Grandstands Premium – $16 flip seats.

Tip #2 – Parking and Getting Around

You shouldn’t stay home just because Holland’s size balloons during Tulip Time. Rather, come prepared for walking and use a few of these strategies to make getting around a little more palatable:

  • Max Transit is providing $5 unlimited rides all week with their park-and-ride shuttle.
  • Walking is standard. Plan to walk and walk a lot. Comfortable shoes are a must.
  • Park at the first spot you find. Don’t wait to find a better spot- it probably doesn’t exist.
  • Tag Team It. Have one adult drop off the rest of the family close to the action and use cell phones to meet up. This saves little legs and can extend your time at the festival.
Tulip Time With Kids parent guide header

Tip #3 – Where to Find Restrooms and Baby Changing Stations

It’s a guarentee that you’ll be searching for a bathroom at some or multiple times during your Tulip Time trip. Portable “potties” are placed throughout the downtown area but if you’re looking for a place to change your little one or a modern restroom here are two great places.

  • Visitors Bureau: located at 9th St and Central Ave
  • Civic Center: private nursing rooms, changing tables and family restrooms can all be found here.

Tip #4 – What to Bring to Tulip Time with Kids

Every parent knows that bringing the right gear can make or break an outing. Since Tulip Time is in the spring when Michigan weather changes on a dime, you do need to be prepared for anything.

Here are items to consider packing for your Tulip Time trip:

  • Towels/blankets to set alongside curb for parade seating. Folding chairs can work well if you get there early enough.
  • If it’s sunny, bring sunscreen and water bottles.
  • Bring a stroller if you must: there’s a lot of walking, and it’s nice for kids to have a place to sit and a place where you know they won’t get separated from you. But…the crowds. Do you want to navigate a stroller through the masses? Parents suggest a baby carrier if your child is small enough for it.
  • Bring snacks unless you want to buy good eats from the many vendors available. 
  • Rain coats. Hopefully, this won’t be a factor this year, but be prepared just in case.

What did we miss?

What’s your favorite part of the Tulip Time Festival?

Things to Do at Tulip Time with Kids

4 thoughts on “Tulip Time is Back in 2021! Here’s How It’ll Be Different”

  1. Terrific info on Tulip Time!
    Parents should also know the Family Rest and Play Area is open daily and located at the small pocket park on 8th St near PNC Bank. There are baby care stations, nursing area and larger portable restrooms.
    There are also things to do, toys and some activities, daily 10a-6p.
    Special community partner hosts will be on site select days with more fun and even treats. Check out http://www.tuliptime.com for more info.

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