Whether you are of Dutch heritage or just wish to experience a different culture without leaving the country, pack your wooden dancing shoes and head over to Holland for Tulip Time (tuliptime.com), the annual festival of all things Dutch held in early May. The festival packs morning, noon and nighttime activities into each day of its weeklong run. Enjoy home-cooked traditional Dutch eats, listen to bands of traveling musicians, watch local theater productions and Dutch dancing, watch the floats go by in a parade and enjoy arts-and-crafts workshops all week long.
Dutch dancing in Holland began in 1935 when a high school teacher trained several students to perform Dutch folk dances. Today, the tradition continues with folk dancing all through Tulip Time week, performed by the more than 1,000 trained dancers in the city. Each dancer prepares a costume based on traditional Dutch provincial dress and sports the iconic wooden shoes synonymous with the festival. Check the festival schedule of events for dancing at Civic Center, Centennial Park and around the Downtown Holland area.
In case you wondered, yes, the tulips are indeed in bloom during Tulip Time. A great way to see all of the flowers and foliage that Holland has to offer is by taking the Tulip Trolley, led by a Dutch-costumed guide, through the gardens and parks known as "Tulip Lanes" in the downtown area. Tours depart from Centennial Park daily during the festival and, as the name suggests, run on trolleys.
Located at Holland's Civic Center, the carnival features amusement park rides and festival games and is open for the duration of the festival. The carnival opens its doors on most days at 11 a.m. and stays open well into the evening.
Tulip Time sponsors not one but three parades held throughout the week. The first, Volksparade, sees local marching bands and participants dressed in Dutch fashions of a bygone era "scrub the town clean" along the festival route as a tribute to Holland's high standards of cleanliness. Later in the week, catch kids from area schools dance, walk and play instruments in similar costumes along the parade route to welcome visitors into the town during the Kinderparade. Finally, the Muziekparade wraps up the week with marching bands, Dutch dancers, local celebrities and festival organizers all making their way through town along the parade route. If you would like to make a float, drive a vintage automobile, register a band or just walk in one of the parades, fill out an application on the Tulip Time website.
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