The Tulip Journey To Holland

How exactly did a small town on the shores of Lake Michigan become the home of one of the largest tulip festivals in the world? Believe it or not, it all started in the late 1500’s when the Netherlands began cultivating tulips. Through ups and downs over the centuries, the Dutch maintained a commercial devotion to the flower and in 1847, Dutch settlers made their way to Michigan bringing tulips along for the ride. The sandy soil in Holland, Michigan provided excellent conditions for the bulbs and the tulips flourished.

By 1927, it was suggested by high school biology teacher Lida Rogers that the city of Holland plant tulips along the streets and in city parks as a beautification effort. The next year 100,000 bulbs were purchased and planted, with the very first “Tulip Festival” held in May of 1929.

Over 90 years later, close to 1,000,000 bulbs arrive in Holland, Michigan in the fall. Planting all those bulbs is no small feat so the community becomes a part of the planting experience. Community Planting Day is held in early October and with the help of volunteers, the City of Holland directs the planting of thousands of tulips over the course of 4 hours at Window on the Waterfront park. A few days later the business community steps in as teams from local organizations and businesses engage in Corporate Planting Day at Centennial Park. These events help kick off the extensive tulip planting season in Holland. By mid-November over 120 varieties of tulips are planted, preparing for a grand bloom in the spring here on the Lake Michigan shore  - nearly 200 years after they first made an appearance!

When you combine the City of Holland plantings, local tulip farm plantings and the business and residents that plant their own bulbs, Holland, Michigan bursts into bloom with over 5,000,000 tulips each spring. A simple beautification project has become an exuberant celebration of Dutch heritage, community and of course, tulips.