When you least expect it, your heart is sure to be stolen away by Holland’s great natural beauty, sun-kissed beaches, and quiet city charm. A favourite Michigan vacation destination, this quaint lakeside community is steeped in tradition — from the authentic 17th century windmill that presides majestically over the town to the award-winning Tulip Time festival, May 7th–14th. Named the “Best Small Town Festival in America” by Readers Digest, Tulip Time celebrates its 87th anniversary in 2016.
Every year brings something new to the festival. Seven months before the festival kicks off, it’s all-hands-on-deck as around a half-a-million new bulbs are planted throughout town in private fields, city parks, and countless flower beds. And mind you, these are no ordinary bulbs. Straight from the fields of the Netherlands, more than four dozen varieties in a kaleidoscope of colours are flown 4,100 miles to Holland, Michigan.
In spring, more than six million tulips throughout the city gracefully open their delicate petals. Premier viewing spots around town include Window on the Waterfront, Centennial Park, and the six miles of Tulip Lanes that start at 12th Street and River Avenue. Here, you’ll find thousands of tulips of every tint and tinge trimming the streets that wind through the heart of Holland’s historic district and central neighbourhoods. Just follow the white arrow signs.
More than half-a-million people from around the globe attend Tulip Time to admire the beauty of the city in full bloom and to celebrate Dutch culture. The week-long festival features parades, an Art & Craft Fair, concerts, theatrical performances, street scrubbing, and demonstrations by wooden shoe-wearing klompen dancers. If you happen to be in town on May 14th, you can sign up to help break the Guinness World Record for the largest number of people dancing simultaneously in wooden shoes. The record currently stands at about 2,600 people! After you’ve danced your heart out, and klomped your shoes off, stick around for a spectacular fireworks finalé over Lake Macatawa.
Holland’s historic, yet hip, downtown beams with pride at its beautifully restored Victorian-era buildings. Elegant apartments, trendy boutiques, eclectic art galleries, fine dining restaurants, and craft-brew pubs are housed within. With more than a dozen microbreweries in the area, you can sample some of the best beers brewed in the state and get hoppy — and happy! Holland’s three breweries — Big Lake Brewing, New Holland Brewing Company, and Our Brewing Company offer their own brewed-on-premises beers and ciders, while Hops at 84 East, a beer bar, features more than 50 micro-brews on tap from around the state and the country.
Anchoring the downtown shopping district is the open-air Holland Farmers’ Market celebrating its 37th anniversary this year. Open each Wednesday and Saturday from mid-May through early December, you’ll find more than 90 vendors selling fresh produce, plants and flowers, baked goods, artisan cheeses, meats and eggs, honeys and jams, and more. Attend free cooking classes and demonstrations, grab a bite to eat at the food court, and watch street performers make a little magic and music. New at the market in 2016 is the Summer Solstice Celebration. Join in as the market salutes summer on June 18th with fun family activities.