We are waiting for the flowering to begin.
Next to windmills and wooden clogs, there may not be such a stereotypically Dutch image as a field of multicolored tulips, rows of which go beyond the horizon. In fact, in the Golden Age of the Netherlands (17th century), flowers became such a cultural phenomenon that they caused a stir among buyers, called “tulip fever” – people could buy one rare bulb for the price of an entire mansion.
Despite the fact that the Netherlands is great for spring walks among tulips, it is far from the only place in the world where you can admire these bright flowers. Actually, they didn’t even appear here. This honor has fallen to Central Asia and Turkey, where millions of flowers are planted around Istanbul every spring. Here are six other destinations — from a small town on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, to a Dutch—obsessed city in the Midwest of the United States – that should be included in the tulip viewing route this season (lasts, as a rule, from mid-April to the end of May).
During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, Princess Juliana and her family took refuge in the Canadian capital, and in 1945 the Dutch royal family sent more than 100,000 bulbs to Canada in gratitude for the asylum granted to the future queen. Seventy years ago, the Canadian Tulip Festival was held in the city for the first time, which this year will be held from May 12 to 22. By this time, almost a million tulips will bloom in Ottawa and neighboring Gatineau (in the province of Quebec). More than 100 varieties of tulips bloom on 120 beds, including in the Park of Commissioners, along the Rideau Canal and in front of the National War Memorial.
In 2023, the free festival will continue after dark — there are many evening events waiting for you, ideal for escaping from the crowd. The beds with tulips will be illuminated, so you can admire them even after sunset, and on the psychedelic Blacklight Boardwalk display, visitors will be able to look at flowers in the ultraviolet spectrum — this is how pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, see them. The best hotel in the city, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, is 111 years old, and it is located right in the center, thanks to which the flower beds with tulips are often visible directly from the window.
The town with the aptly named Holland, founded in the 1840s by Dutch Calvinist separatists, looks like a small piece of the Netherlands in the Midwest – there are canals and a windmill brought from the old country, which is already 262 years old. Until the mid-20th century, the population remained almost 90 percent Dutch, and in honor of this, in the 1920s, the city purchased 100,000 tulip bulbs. Since 1929, the festival “Time of Tulips” has been held in Holland, which this year will be held from May 6 to May 14.
You can not only admire the flowers at the peak of activity, but also watch traditional Dutch dances, visit historical walking tours, quilt exhibitions and concerts by famous artists, for example, Sarah Evans. While in the city, be sure to go to the Veldheer Tulip Garden, where you can walk among millions of tulips and see how artisans paint blue and white Delft dishes or wooden shoes. Since there are a lot of varieties of tulips growing on the farm, they bloom from mid-April until almost the end of May, which means that you can avoid crowds by skipping the festival and arriving on quieter weekdays in early spring. To make you feel at home, Teerman Lofts offers six apartments in the heart of the historic city center.
If you really love tulips, the only way to get a double charge of pleasure is to go to the Southern Hemisphere, where spring lasts from September to November. Among the best places to admire tulips is Sylvan, Australia, where the annual Tesselaar Tulip Festival has been held since 1954. According to legend, so many passers-by stopped to look at flowers on the farm of this Dutch immigrant about 25 miles from Melbourne that Cies and Joanna Tesselaar eventually gave up and opened their fields to the public. Today, the farm is filled to the brim with 900,000 tulips, and among the festive events of 2022 (held from September 10 to October 9) were themed weekends: One of the most unexpected for those who were at the festival for the first time was the Turkish weekend in honor of the Central Asian origin of the flower — you could get acquainted with music, cuisine and art Turkey. To create an atmosphere, stay at Monreale House, a guest house built in 1923. It includes four cottages, the territory of which is often visited by wallabies, wombats and lyrebirds.
Tonami, located about four hours by high-speed train northwest of Tokyo, is the sister city of the Dutch Lisse, home to the world’s most famous Keukenhof Flower Park. Just like his brother, this city in Toyama Prefecture is crazy about tulips — they are even depicted on its flag. Every spring, a Tulip Fair takes place in Tonami (April 22–May 5, 2023): three million tulips of 300 varieties are exhibited in the Tonami Tulip Gallery, where you can taste soft ice cream with tulip flavor, and in the multicolored Tonami Tulip Park. There are several standard business hotels much closer to the events, but to taste the true Japanese hospitality, go further away – to the family onsen—ryokan Yumetsuzuri, which is about 10 minutes away by taxi or half an hour by bus. In addition to natural springs, the hotel offers hyperseasonal cuisine: if you come during the tulip flowering season, it means that you will most likely have to eat young fish ayu, firefly squid, fatsia shoots and eaglet.
Skagit Valley, Washington
Nowhere in the United States are more tulip bulbs and daffodils produced than in this agricultural center an hour north of Seattle. Washington’s flower industry dates back to an English immigrant named George Gibbs, who planted $5 worth of tulips on his land in the 1890s and soon discovered that the soil was ideal for their reproduction. Every April there is a Tulip Festival in the Skagit Valley, which is best visited by car, stopping along the way at farms such as the RoozenGaarde Exhibition Garden and Tulip Town. The best hotels in this region are located in the small town of La Conner. There are several charming independent hotels here, for example, the Wild Iris Inn. At this 18-room hotel, it’s a must to take free cruising bikes to explore the parks and marinas along the Swinomish Canal.
Scottish Borders, Scotland
Known primarily for his historical novels such as Ivanhoe and Rob Roy, Sir Walter Scott was obsessed with changing the Scottish national identity. To this end, he built his own Gothic Revival mansion on the Abbotsford estate in the Scottish Borders, where he lived from 1817 to 1825. As part of the project, Scott designed three Regency—era walled gardens, which have remained virtually unchanged to this day – tulips bloom there every spring. To see the gardens at dawn before the crowd arrives, you can book accommodation in the Hope Scott Wing, where Sir Walter’s granddaughter once lived. You can also stay at the Kingsknowes Hotel on the other side of the Tweed River — it occupies an 1869 mansion owned by the owner of a local textile factory, overlooking Abbotsford.