“A large and colorful tulip field, with a windmill in the background”
Continuing our blog about the different seasons in the Netherlands, today I will talk about my favorite one, the Spring. When you think about the Netherlands, I bet the first thing that comes to mind is a large and colorful tulip field, with a windmill in the background. Well, you are not wrong. This really exists and it is not only in the postal cards, but you have to come at the right time of the year. Spring starts officially on the 20th of March and goes up until June 21st. This also usually when the weather starts to get better and we can say goodbye to our coats, gloves, and scarves. However, as you may have read in this blog already, in the Netherlands we can never be sure. Some years the weather starts to warm up very early and some it does not. Some springs are very sunny and some are quite rainy. But overall, this is a really good time to come if you want to spend some time outdoors.
I cannot start talking about the most colorful season of the year without mentioning the tulips. Although it is believed tulips are originally from Central Asia, they became very popular in the Netherlands at the end of the sixteenth century/beginning of the seventeenth century, when Carolus Clusius, director of the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden, received a bunch from a friend and planted the first bulb field in his garden. Soon, people started using tulips as garden decorations and the interest rate started to rise, together with its price.
This period is known as the “Tulipmania”, the growth of the tulip industry in the Netherlands. During this period, a single tulip was worth more than the annual income of skilled workers, tulips were even used as a form of money, and properties were sold for a handful of them. The boom had an abrupt end: in the course of a week the prices collapse, and tulip holders went bankrupt.
Even after this tragic end, tulips are popular in the Netherlands up until today. When spring comes, the City Hall of Amsterdam spreads them throughout the city. Amsterdam then becomes colorful and happy. It seems like the whole city gets into a happy mood together, and people start to enjoy the canals, the parks, terraces, and so on. If you are arriving in Amsterdam by plane, car, or train you can easily see the colorful landscape from your window.
If you really love flowers and are looking for that scenario that I described at the beginning of this blog, you cannot miss the Keukenhof, the largest and most beautiful spring garden in the world. There, you can see the charming tulip fields, the most different flower types and colors as well as fascinating flower mosaics.
First opened in 1950, the attraction still has the basis of the Keukenhof Castle gardens, redesigned in 1857, by the architects Jan David Zocher and his son Louis Paul Zocher, who also designed Amsterdam’s Vondelpark. Since its opening, the Keukenhof was a success, developing into a world-famous attraction with 7 million spring-flowering bulbs. Every year the garden is decorated in a different theme, with the flower mosaics in accordance with it.
Located in Lisse, the garden normally opens in late March and closes in early May, when the tulips are collected for sale. This is one of my favorite attractions of the season, and if you have time, I highly recommend you to go.
The Bloemencorso Bollenstreek, known as the Keukenhof Flower Parade, happens once a year around mid-April. The decorated cars leave Noordwijk Boulevard at 9:30 in the morning, with flower bouquets, music and entertainment and arrives in Haarlem at 21:00, passing through several villages in the flower-bulb region. The most famous place along the route is the Keukenhof, where most of the people watch it.
Time to enjoy some fresh air
As I mentioned before, this is the time when the whole city starts to get into a happy mood and people start to enjoy the outdoor spaces even more. This is the time when the first events and festivals kick-off. From music festivals such as DGTL Festival, art festivals such as World Press Photo and Museum Week, film festivals such as Rode Tulp Film Festival, to food festivals such as Rolling Kitchens. There are also smaller events in parks, live music, theatre plays, dance performances, children’s events, and so on.
This is the most famous Dutch holiday and a national party. The King’s day is the day of the King’s or Queen’s birthday. Because of that, the actual date of the holiday changes according to the King or Queen mandate. A funny fact, however, is that the Dutchies are not very queen on changing this holiday to a month other than April.
From 1948 until 1980, Queen’s day was celebrated on the 30th of April, the birthday of the then-Queen Juliana. When in 1980, Queen Beatrix succeeds the throne, the holiday remained on the same day as before, 30 of April, instead of changing to 31th of January, her actual birthday. But, in 2012, when her son and current king of the Netherlands, Willen-Alexander took over the throne, the holiday changed to his day of birth, 27th of April, and remains like this up until now. Many say this is because of the weather since spring is nicer to celebrate than during winter.
On one day or the other, the King’s birthday is celebrated throughout the whole country, where all the people wear orange and go party on the streets. During the whole day, the streets are crowded and full of vendors. This is also the day when Dutch people sell their old stuff in the house and clothes, decorations, food, drinks, and much more on the streets. The whole city becomes an open market and you can find great deals! The days preceding the holiday, residents start “reserving” space on the streets for their stands, by drawing an X and their initials on the floor.
The night before, King’s Night is also a party. Stages are spread around the city with DJs and live music, but the party finishes early. If you want to enjoy it longer, you can choose between a range of events happening on that day, such as NDSM Vrijhaven King’s Day. But be fast! The tickets normally sold out very quickly.
On 5 May, the Netherlands celebrates the country’s liberation from German troops in 1945, called Liberation Day. Every year, Amsterdam comes alive with a selection of festivals, concerts, and special events to celebrate the country’s continuing societal freedoms. A famous event is the huge floating concert on the River Amstel, attended by the King and Queen.
Spring Food equals street food
As the weather starts to get better, and outdoor activities more often hype, street food is the best choice. From food festivals such as Westerpark’s food truck event Rolling Kitchens in mid-May, cheese markets, street markets, to haringhandels (herring carts), you will not miss out on street food. Also, a great time to enjoy the sun with a nice picnic at the parks. Supermarkets such as Albert Heijn are well prepared for this season, selling handy and ready-to-eat options of cheese, fruits, sandwiches, smoothies, and much more, that you can bring to your picnic at the park – To know more about Dutch supermarkets, click here.
The typical Dutch dessert, Toumpouce, a cream-filled rectangular pastry characterized by a layer of smooth pink icing on top, is also typically eaten during this time when the icing top turns into bright orange for King’s Day.
Summing up, I hope this blog post clarifies at least some of your questions and makes you feel more comfortable about your trip planning to Amsterdam. This city has a unique charm all around the year. If you decide to come during Spring, you are not going to regret it. However, it is very important to dress up properly to avoid inconveniences during your visit. Even though the weather is warming up, it is possible that you will face some cold and/or rainy days. Extremely important to bring an umbrella, or a raincoat (even better), and warm sweaters or jackets. Even after sunny days in Spring, it is common to have a drop in temperature once the sun is down. Also, do not forget to bring comfortable shoes, to not limit your experience!
Comment below what you think about Spring in Amsterdam after reading this blog, and let me know if you have any further questions!