HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Millions of tulips are ready for their grand appearance as Tulip Time returns to Holland.
Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda says more than 5 million tulips are blanketing Holland for this year’s celebration. That includes more than 200,000 of the flower in parks and along streets throughout the downtown area.
Tulips of nearly every shape, style and color will be on display lining 6 miles of Tulip Lanes, along 8th Street, filling Centennial and Waterfront parks and blanketing Windmill Island and Veldheers Tulip Farm. However, the orange tulip will take center stage this year.
“‘Paint the Town Orange’ is our theme this year. It’s a nod to the House of Orange of the king and queen of the Netherlands. They celebrate his birthday with decking out in orange, and so we’re doing the same,” explained Auwerda.
FLOWER AND FESTIVAL FORECAST
The sunshine will return this weekend with temperatures topping out around 60 degrees Saturday and 64 degrees Sunday — perfect conditions to help the tulips reach their bloom.
“They’re doing really well. We’re about 35, 40 percent in bloom right now. The sunny weather that you are predicting for the weekend is going to help them continue to open up, and we should be peak next week mid-week for sure,” said Auwerda.
Storm Team 8 says the best weekend for a rain-free visit to Holland will be the first weekend of the festival. Wet, cloudy conditions will return to West Michigan, with the highest chance of rain mid-week.
While Tulip Time officially kicks off May 4, the festivities began Thursday night with Dutch dancing at Centennial Park. Friday’s festivities include more dancing and carnival rides. The tulips will be available for viewing anytime during the festival, with bulbs available for purchase at three sites.
Among the thousands of visitors expected for Tulip Time will be former NBC “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno. Tickets were still available a week prior to his May 10 performance at Central Wesleyan Church.
Also new this year: the Klompengarden competition. Local artists dressed up 45 pairs of large wooden shoes now scattered across Holland. Visitors are encouraged to check out each of the 90 shoes during this 90th anniversary event and vote for their favorite set online.
“People real say to us this trip has been on their bucket list forever when they call. And they want to come see the tulips, partake in this Dutch culture in the community, see the parades — we have lots of great entertainment. So, the festival has grown over the 90 years from just tulips to all the other things we do today and we’re always looking for something new and different to provide our guests,” said Auwerda.
PARADES: TAKE YOUR PICK
Those looking for free fun can also check out any of the three parades that will roll down 8th Street during Tulip Time.
The Volksparade will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday after the traditional street scrubbing. Like the governors before her, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer plans to pick up a push broom to ceremoniously prepare the streets.
The next day, children will take to the streets for Tulip Time’s Kinderparade.
The final Saturday of the festival brings Tulip Time’s largest procession: the Muziekparade.
“We have over 20 bands coming Saturday, lots of floats and entries that will make Saturday’s parade really unique,” said Auwerda.
Some familiar faces from WOOD TV8 will be among them.
The Muziekparade starts at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11 and will wind down 8th Street, from Columbia Avenue onto Van Raalte Avenue, ending at W. 24th Street.
Tulip Time will culminate that night with fireworks over Kollen Park, but the attractions run through May 12.