Saturday, January 16

Holland, Michigan and the Tulip Festival

  
Looking for a great weekend trip this spring? I have just the place: Holland Michigan. And if you time it just right you could be there for The Holland Tulip Festival held in May.
Holland is a beautiful little town loaded with wooden shoes, statues, quaint shops, lots of Dutch heritage and countless tulips and other spring flowers.

Holland was settled in 1847 by Dutch Calvinist separatists, under the leadership of Dr. Albertus van Raalte. Their desire for religious freedom led them to unite and settle as a group along with dire economic conditions in the Netherlands compelling them to emigrate.

Holland is known as the "City of Churches."There are 170 churches in the greater Holland area, many of which are with the Reformed Church in America and Christian Reformed Church in North America denominations. A Holland church youth group leader started the trend of the "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelets in the 1990's.


Most of the local families in Holland are of Dutch ancestry and their culture is very much a part of the town. We heard that Dutch dancing is a class offered at the high school and old Dutch costumes are handed down to their children and grandchildren.
You can even watch a demonstration of wooden shoes being made and purchase a pair to take home.

During the week of the festival there are thousands of tourists, all there to see the tulips in full bloom and what a site it is. Everywhere there's available space in the downtown area, there are tulips planted. There's estimated to be 4.5 million tulips planted and that's impressive.



Statues and tulips downtown Holland, Michigan


How beautiful it must be to live and work in the area and have all those tulips as your view going to and from work or school.

During the festival the streets fill with locals of all ages in full Dutch costume dancing in wooden shoes to traditional Dutch music.
The history of Dutch Dance began in 1935 with local high school girls performing at the Tulip Time Festival. They were dressed in costumes and were called “Klompen Dancers.”
Today’s dancers wear costumes patterned after the traditional dress of the Dutch Provinces. Each costume is handmade locally and inspected before it can be worn in the Dutch Dance performances.

One of our favorite places to visit is Windmill Island Gardens.
Located just outside of town, the gardens feature a 250 year old working Dutch windmill called De Zwaan, meaning graceful bird. The windmill towers over the surrounding 36 acres of flower gardens and wheat fields. The tour and the history of bringing the windmill to America are well worth the visit. 



The windmill even has WWII German bullet holes! De Zwaan was first erected in Krommenie, Netherlands in 1761. The Dutch government in the Netherlands sold the windmill for $2800 and it was the last windmill to ever leave the Netherlands. It was only sold because it was so heavily damaged in WWII. It was dismantled and arrived in America in 1964 and took 6 months to rebuild.

Post House
Little Netherlands Village Shops 


While there you can also visit the Post House, (an exact replica of a 14th century wayside inn), or listen to an antique Amsterdam street organ, ride on the antique Dutch Carousel, (featuring hand-carved and painted wooden horses), or shop at the Little Netherlands Village for souvenirs.





I'd have to say that our second favorite stop was the Holland History Museum. 
We were very much impressed with the wonderful history displays and beautiful authentic Dutch art!

The Holland Museum is in an old neoclassical former post office building and also includes two newly restored house museums: The Cappon House and the Settlers House. 

Holland Museum, 1st floor

The 1st floor of the museum houses displays about the history of Holland from the settlement in 1847 to present day. And the 2 floor of the Holland Museum houses the extensive collection of 17th to 20th century Dutch paintings, cultural objects, fine furniture, Delftware and original Dutch costumes.

Low Tide on the Estuary
by Charles Henri Joseph Leichert


Holland is also known for Delftware pottery. Mostly recognized as painted blue and white it also come in other colors. I purchased a small blue and white Delftware windmill Christmas ornament as a souvenir.

If you are a gardener then a must see is Veldheer's Tulip Farm and Bulb Store.
The founder, Vern Veldheer was born Sept 25 1925. He started Veldheer's Inc. with 100 red tulips and 300 white tulips in 1947 post WWII. They now plant over 5.5 million tulips. Mr. Veldheer is said to still work 60+ hours a week at his tulip farm.



There are dozens of varieties of tulips in dozens of color combinations and it is breathtaking! Make sure to get the guidebook that explains each type or color of tulip. Tulip bulbs are not sold in the Spring, only in the fall after being dug up, but you can purchase many other types of flowering bulbs. That just gives us another excuse to travel back to Michigan!

While in Holland stop by the Holland Harbor Lighthouse, first erected in 1882. The lighthouse is referred to in the area as Big Red, an obvious play on words because the lighthouse is on the small side. For a great view of Big Red, visit Holland State Park, and walk along the boardwalk to the north pier. While visiting the lighthouse we were there in time to see local high school students take a dip in the “icy cold” waters of Lake Michigan. I guess it's a local tradition, yikes!




There are many restaurants, diners, and pubs in the Holland area along with local wineries. We stopped at Fern Valley Wine Cellar, located near Holland in Fernville, Michigan.

Wineries in this area are located along the shores of Lake Michigan because of the unique great lakes climate and sandy soil which is supposedly an ideal setting for growing grapes. We usually can't leave Michigan without a bottle or two of their great tasting wine. 

My brother and his wife and Bill and I visiting Big Red

My brother and sister-in-law at Fern Valley Winery

Bill and I front center, my sister and her husband on the right
 and my brother and his wife in the back at the De Zwaan Windmill

The six of us are planning another trip sometime in February and I'm sure it's going to be fun.  
I hope you have great traveling adventures!

Elizabeth

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