Have you ever been to the Noordoostpolder in the spring? It’s a must: it’s the most beautiful season of the year. The new land becomes coloured again and millions of tulips start flowering on our fields. Take flower-filled photos at the dazzling tulip fields or learn more about this traditional Dutch flower at the experience and information centres you encounter on the way. Every year during the Tulip Festival a 100 km long Tulip Route is plotted that can be followed by car and a 40 km long one for cycling. The routes are signposted for your convencience and there will probably also be an app again next time.
Every year the Noordoostpolder hosts a Tulip Festival to showcase the great variety of tulips grown in our soil. The main element of the festival is the tulip route, which is different each year. There's a car route of about 100 kilometres long and a bicycle route that takes you along about 40 kilometres of tulip fields. But it's not just driving or cycling past endless fields of tulips. There's more to the Tulip Festival: there’s a multitude of activities for young and old, different each year and yet to be announced for the next event.
If we had a crystal ball, we could tell you well in advance when the next Tulip Festival takes place. Unfortunately, we do not, but generally you should plan your trip to see the tulips in bloom in the months of April and May. As soon as the Tulip Festival organisation announces the dates for its next event, we will be sure to add them here.
After the land that is now the Noordoostpolder had been reclaimed from the sea in 1942, a large part of the area was dedicated to agriculture. The first tulip bulbs were planten in the sixties. The erstwhile sea bed proved to be furtile ground and very suitable for cultivating tulips. The tulips grow very well because of the minerals in the soil. Many agriculturists have settled in the Noordoostpolder and with around 2000 hectares of tulip fields this polder has become one of the largest tulip areas in the Netherlands, with a production of almost one billion marketable bulbs each year!
The tulip is generally considered to be a typically Dutch flower, but it actually has its origin in Turkey. The word tulip stems from the Latin word Tulipa: the flower that looks like a turban. Sailors brought the tulip to the Netherlands in the sixteenth century, where it quickly became a popular flower among the affluent part of the population. So popular, in fact, that a veritable tulip mania arose: the tulips became increasingly valuable until eventually the entire bulb market collapsed. The tulip trade had become the first economic soap bubble to burst in the Netherlands...
“ ALL THOSE COLOURS... ”
Tulips usually flower from mid-April to early May, but exact dates are hard to predict. This stems from the tulip's growth and flowering reacting to weather conditions such as temperature and amount of rain. Also, different tulip species may flower at slightly different times.
Do you want to know when the best time to visit the tulips fields is? Then check out the 'bloeimeter' of the Tulip Festival. This 'bloomometer' is updated daily during the annual tulip festival. It shows you which percentage of the tulips is flowering that day.
The entire Noordoostpolder is a feast of colour in spring. Such a beautiful sight! But please enjoy our tulips from a distance and don't enter the fields. If you do enter the fields, you may damage or bring diseases to the tulips, with great consequences for the farmer. You are also not supposed to park your car on the farmers' grounds. This is their private property and their personal living space, which we must respect. Parking alongside the road and taking picures from the road's shoulder is perfectly fine, though. Just make sure to check both ways before crossing the road...
If you are intent on taking photos or selfies while surrouned by tulips (and who can blame you?!), then there are two excellent opportunies along the tulip route you can choose from: the Tulpenbelevingsveld (tulip experience field) in Creil and the Tulpenpluktuin (tulip picking garden) in Marknesse. In both you can walk around the fields to your heart's content and take all the photographs you want. Both also feature a sitting area where you can buy a cup of coffee. As the name indicates, the tulip picking garden also allows you to handpick your own bunch of tulips. For a set amount of money you can buy a set amount of tulips, no matter how you mix and match them. What a lovely way to continue enjoying tulips days after your visit to the fields!
Did you know that the tulip bulbs in the fields are actually cultivated for the bulbs, not for the flowers? After a thorough selection and a field inspection, the flowers are topped: the flowers are removed from the stems. Such a waste, you might think. But this way all the plant's energy goes into the bulb instead of to the flower and it's the bulbs that are sold afterwards.
The bulbs are unearthed and harvested in late June. The bulbs that are big enough will be sold, mostly to growers who grow them into flowers for both national and international florist shops. If the bulb is not yet big enough, it will be planted again in the fall for a new round of growing, flowering en topping. See you again next year!
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