Each Spring, the Dutch tulip fields burst into a colourful feast for the eye and are spectacular to visit. And just about now over 2.000 hectares of tulip fields are exploding in the Noordoostpolder area, one of the Netherlands’ largest flower bulb cultivation regions, east of Amsterdam. A true Tulip Festival.
The highlight of Noordoostpolder’s tulip season is the Tulip Festival, which runs from mid April to the beginning of May. During the Tulip Festival you can follow specific walking, cycling or car routes that will lead you past the various tulip fields. The car route also leads you on to the tulip information centre and the Tulip Experience field, where you will find a wealth of activities to explore.
See the tulips by car, bicycle or on foot
When the tulips are in bloom, viewed from above Noordoostpolder displays its colours on one large palette. Swaths of blooming tulips, fresh green fields and orchards intermingle. Whether you drive by car, peddle your bike or just walk, there are various routes laid out to choose from that display the blooming tulips at their very best. Done driving? Get out of the car and join in on a wide range of fun activities and a number of companies located along the tulip route who open their doors to welcome visitors.
For example, you can visit the Tulip Experience Field boasting around 500 varieties of tulips, walk or have a picnic among the tulips, try your hand at your own tulip painting or take a selfie in one of the selfie fields. You can go flat out. No fear of flying? Take a helicopter flight and skim over the many colourful fields. Or take a more sedate trip in a balloon, lifting off from the Tulip Experience fields in Creil.
Flower mosaics in Noordoostpolder
Also, every year the various polder villages in Noordoostpolder create their own tulip mosaics according to an annually changing theme. These mosaics can be admired at prominent spots near the entrance to the villages or adjacent to the route.
Become a tulip artist yourself
You can even create your own artwork at the Tulip Experience field during the Tulip Festival. The Festival will include various workshops, but you can also just simply start creating your own tulip painting. Inspiration is on hand with the beauty of the flowers in the tulip show gardens, underpinned by this year’s tulip theme. The ‘how to create a beautiful tulip photo’ workshop will teach you a range of tips and tricks on how to create stunning tulip photos. The activity starts at the Tulip Experience field.
How did the tulips get here?
Originally from Turkey, tulips arrived to the Netherlands in the sixteenth century. The word tulip comes from the Latin word tulipa, the flower that looks like a turban. Botanist Carolus Clusius played a key role, as tulips came to the attention of many prosperous citizens. By the seventeenth century the tulip had become so popular that it sat at the eye of a wild speculative trading storm. At the time, a great deal of cash was paid for even a single tulip. After this period, the tulip continued to remain popular in the Netherlands.
Over the course of the nineteenth century, commercial cultivation expanded out from the Haarlem region to what we refer now to as the Flower Bulb region. This expansion continued during the twentieth century in other parts of the Netherlands, such as the top of North-Holland and West-Friesland.
Tulips in Noordoostpolder
The polder was officially declared ‘dry’ on 9 September 1942. The first tulips were planted in this polder during the 1960’s. It turned out that Noordoostpolder’s soil is extremely suited to bulbs. In current times, around 2000 hectares of tulips are planted annually. Together these produce almost 1 billion of sellable bulbs. Lilies, gladioli and grape hyacinths are also grown in Noordoostpolder to complement the tulips. On surface size alone, Noordoostpolder is the third largest flower bulb cultivation region in the Netherlands.
Tulips in Winter time
Tulips usually flower in the Spring. It is and has been possible however to buy blooming tulips in other seasons. This is made possible due to the tulip cultivators, the so called forcers. Forcers buy tulip bulbs in summer and force these to bloom in Winter. The bulbs are given a cold treatment in a cold store during autumn. The bulb reacts as if it’s Winter. After the cold treatment the forcer moves the tulip bulbs to a warm greenhouse, where the bulb will bloom as a tulip within a couple of weeks. The flowers are then cut as normal and sold in bunches. Summer returns and the whole process starts afresh.
Info Tulip Festival
Read our blog for more tulip spots in the Netherlands.
Learn how to plant your Spring bulbs to make your own Tulip Festival.
Photo credits: Visit Flevoland