Tulip Time is Loaded with Parades, Fireworks, a Carnival and Activities That Kids Love

Tulip Time feature image girl

Exploring Holland’s Tulip Time with Kids

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.

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

This big festival can be daunting for families visiting for the first time, we’re hoping we can equip you with some tips to make your visit to Tulip Time a success!

Tulip Time is May 2 – 10, 2020

For up-to-date Tulip Time info, follow their Facebook page.

Tulip Time Field Holland

Tulip Time for Kids – Highlights

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 they 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.

Tip #1 – Choose Your Parade

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.

Tulip Time Dutch Dance Parade

Volksparade (People’s Parade)

Tulip Time with Kids

Wednesday May 6, 1 PM (Dutch Dance Performance), 1:30 PM (Street Scrubbing), and 2 PM – 3 PM (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)

Thursday, May 7, 2:00 pm. This parade features local school children dressed in Dutch costumes.

Muziekparade (Music Parade)

Saturday, May 9, 2:00 PM – 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

Tip #2 – Sprinkle in Dutch Dancing

05_clomp dancing

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.

Tip #3 – Two Flavors of Kid Fun: Kinderplaats and 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.

Tip #4 – Shop the Marktplaats (Save the Art & Craft Fair for adult time)

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.

Tip #5 – Where to 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.

Tulip Time Flower Bed

Tip #6 – Extend Your Fun with 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 Village – This 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.

Tip #7 – Go On a Weekday

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.

Tulip field at Tulip Time Pearson

Tip #8 – 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 #9 – 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 #10 – 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 #11 – 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 Loaded with Parades, Fireworks, a Carnival and Activities That Kids Love”

  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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