Keukenhof Awaits!

by farrah on February 10, 2014 · 21 comments

In about a month the lovely Keukenhof is going to open. If you don’t know what Keukenhof is, then you must not like tulips. Or flowers. Or probably the most crazy over the top world-famous tulip exhibition in the world. Today I thought I’d talk a little about this place and the theme of this year- which fittingly so is ‘Holland’. We went last year on Queen’s Day, and I’m so glad that we did. It really is as beautiful as you imagine. And then some.

Keukenhof's blue riverThe famous ‘Blue River’

History

Keukenhof clogs

According to the Keukenhof website:

Where Keukenhof is situated now, was a hunting area in the 15th century. Herbs for the kitchen of the castle of Jacoba van Beieren were also collected here; hence the name Keukenhof. 

The current park was a section of the sizeable estate of Slot Teylingen, with beautiful untamed bushes and dunes. After the decease of Jacoba van Beieren Keukenhof fell into the hands of rich merchant families. Baron and baroness Van Pallandt invited landscape architects J.D. and L.P. Zocher, designers of the Amsterdam Vondelpark, to make a design for the garden around the castle. This design, in the English landscape style, has always been the basis of Keukenhof. 

Keukenhof flowers

At the moment the estate belongs to a Foundation. On the initiative of the Lisse mayor of that time and a number of leading flower bulb growers and exporters, an open air flower exhibition was organised here for the first time in 1949. This expanded to an annually recurring event that has always drawn great numbers of visitors from all over the world. This is how Keukenhof became the park that we now know. The park is 32 hectares wide and has 15 kilometres of foothpath. 

Keukenhof flowers

How to get there & what to do beforehand

We drove from Oisterwijk on Queen’s Day last year. I don’t know- I think in my mind it would be less crowded- but that doesn’t matter since it’s going to be filled with tourists whenever you go! We drove, and parked easily enough in one of the huge lots run by Keukenhof. We actually went around to the back and entered at the rear gate since the front lot was full when we arrived. It wasn’t difficult, we didn’t have to walk far, and since we pre paid and printed our tickets at home there wasn’t a line. We were scanned and were in!

If you’re coming from far away, there are busses upon busses that offer transportation to the fields. You can download a map of the park here.

A few things

Keukenhof fieldsPhoto courtesy of Keukenhof website

  • Those super long and open fields of tulips that you might expect are not a part of the Keukenhof gardens! Most of those are privately owned, and you will see cars on the side of the road and people exploring them. I think this is trespassing and I don’t know how the people who own these gardens feel about that. My advice is to take a leisurely drive on your way home (if you drove) and you can see them just as well.
  • There is a cafeteria to stop at for lunch, but expect it to be pretty crowded and you might not find a table. Bring your own if you can.
  • You can buy bulbs and plants of all sorts at the many vendors and stalls. We purchased a stunning amaryllis which is getting ready to bloom again this year.
  • There is a playground and a petting farm for the kids- so don’t think they won’t have something to do! Bring ‘em!
  • Saturday, May 3rd is the incredible Flower Parade. We haven’t been to this but it has got to be something special!
  • Fees for park entry can all be found here.

Keukenhof petting farmB at the petting farm

What the natives think

I asked my Twitter friends what they thought about Keukenhof and a few replied:

‏@Gert75  I think it’s something we can be proud of. Although only visited once myself as a kid.
@LivSolveigMe  good for tourism but as a child I was very disappointed when my dad took us there. “What?there’s ONLY flowers?! Boring!”
Keukenhof footpath
B & I on one of the many footpaths

Don’t be us

Last year we thought we had everything under control when it came to taking kids on a day trip like this (snacks, dipes, etc) but our stupid camera card decided that was going to be the day it would crap out on us. Thus, there we were with a fancy DSLR camera in the kind of place where one of those can do justice to the beauty- and all I had was my iPhone. Well, we survived, but I think lugging along your ‘good’ camera is worth it here.

Keukenhof tulips

Overall

Take the kids! The boys were 2, 2 & 4 when we went. It was a great experience. I’m really looking forward to see what they have this year- as so much depends upon the weather. Last year I thought we were going to go too late, as it was a really cold and rough winter, but that worked in our favor since we went at the end of April. This year I think things are looking even better, so we plan to go around the 19th of April. Watch for me to spam you on Instagram @Momofthreeunder!

Keukenhof

Connect

Keep up to date with their Facebook page. They are very good at updating it regarding weather and blooms. You can also stalk them on YouTube and Twitter.

Any other tips? Please feel free to leave them in the comments.

All photos taken by me with my poor iPhone except as noted.

 

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ace February 10, 2014 at 9:23 am

Oh, I loved the Keukenhof – Tulips were always my favorite flower (even before moving here) so I’m pretty happy in that place.
Because of the late winter last year none of the tulips were blooming outside when we went, but at least they had plenty inside the pavillions. I’m looking forward to trying again this year!

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2 farrah February 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Ah yes, I remember you guys went pretty early, right? Did you see the silhouette thing of Beatrix and Willem? That was neat. I have been looking for that photo and can’t find it.

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3 Ace February 11, 2014 at 2:36 pm

Yeah, we went “early” which is normally right in the middle of the season, haha. I don’t remember the silhouette, but I was bummed we missed a lot of the UK themed stuff. This year should be better, though!

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4 Caitlyn February 10, 2014 at 12:34 pm

I’ve lived in Holland for three years now and I still haven’t been to Keukenhof! I’m planning to go at some stage this year – I love the fact that because it hasn’t been too cold this winter, there’s already tulips for sale at the markets and even the Albert Heijn. They’re just such a cheerful flower!

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5 farrah February 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Yes! I am on my third bunch from AH :) They actually have a special right now, buy two bunches and get a free vase. Hope you can see it this year- especially since the theme is Holland. Last year it was London, and although I love the idea of London- it didn’t make sense to me.

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6 Leighann February 10, 2014 at 2:24 pm

what a gorgeous place to explore! I wouuld love it!

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7 farrah February 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm

It really is- I’ve never seen anything like it.

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8 Elizabeth February 10, 2014 at 4:46 pm

So, are the striped areas to the right of the map the private tulip fields?

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9 farrah February 11, 2014 at 7:24 am

I’m not sure. I remember that there is a huge field at one end of the ‘park’ but I am not sure if it is their or not. I want to say that it isn’t. And people are not walking through them, so I think they’re private. The overlook spots are great for photos- but I personally think that if you drive by one of the other ‘private’ fields along the road you’ll have a better chance of walking through them. I did see several people in those fields and had no idea they were even there until we were leaving!

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10 Julia February 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm

This sounds beautiful ! I love tulips and would love to see this some day. And I totally hate when my camera takes a crap it happened to me last year at the pumpkin patch.

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11 farrah February 11, 2014 at 7:24 am

Stupid cameras! Here’s hoping this year goes a little better :)

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12 Chamisa February 10, 2014 at 7:05 pm

If your plans change and you want to go on the 17th, you know where we’ll be! :) Our photos from last year.. we went on Easter Sunday and it was toooo early. http://wp.me/p13Ig0-Mu

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13 farrah February 11, 2014 at 7:25 am

Oh nice! Thank you for sharing! And it’s still not 100% on when we’re going now- so I will be in touch :)

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14 andrea February 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm

That looks stunning!

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15 farrah February 11, 2014 at 7:25 am

They’re something to see for sure :)

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16 Mrs. Chasing the Donkey February 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Well it looks like your iphone did good – or was the view just THAT good?
Sounds and looks like a great day out.

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17 farrah February 11, 2014 at 7:26 am

No, the view (and flowers) are just that good. All the editing I did to the pics was resize and crop a little!

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18 Robbie K (@momma23monkeys) February 10, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Looks AMAZING! Also I want to try on those giant shoes!!

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19 farrah February 11, 2014 at 7:26 am

:) I’ll be on the lookout for some for you!

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20 Heather February 23, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Spectacular pics! It must be awesome to see in person.

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