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.
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.
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.
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!
A few things
- 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.
What the natives think
I asked my Twitter friends what they thought about Keukenhof and a few replied:
Don’t be us
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!
Any other tips? Please feel free to leave them in the comments.
All photos taken by me with my poor iPhone except as noted.